A lot of things go through your mind when you’re stuck inside for a long time.
“Has anyone ever gone insane from hearing the same bird call over and over … and over?” (Seriously, I know there’s more than one species of bird in my yard, yet I only hear one call. Why????)
“Why do I have so many cans of beans? Is that why I live alone?”
“Chocolate comes from a bean. Ahhh, that’s why I have all these beans!” (Well, that, and they’re delicious, especially with rice, ham and cornbread.)
“Who decided that the guys thumping their stereos are essential? Is it to keep those of us working remotely without caffeine awake?” (I know; I just dated myself by saying “stereo” instead of “sound system.”)
“Pants: fun to say, not so much fun to wear in quarantine.” (Yes, I’m still obsessed by “pants.” One of the boy’s many nicknames was Senor Pantalones because he looked like he was wearing furry jodhpurs when he stood on his hind legs.)
So yeah, still weird and goofy after several weeks of isolation. No change there … except maybe that it’s more likely than before to come out at random moments.
Unfortunately, one thing hasn’t seemed to have changed: The perpetually offended remain so.
They’re offended by opinions with which they disagree. They’re offended by facts that don’t support their ideas of reality (actual reality doesn’t care about alternate realities, by the way).
And some don’t seem all that sure of what they’re offended by, but by God, they are offended!
A commenter on our newspaper’s website last month took great offense at my using “covid-19” to refer to the virus that reportedly originated in Wuhan, China: “Interesting a word nerd like Miss Brenda would use the colloquial names when referring to the Zika virus and Ebola but prefers using the scientific term for the Wuhan virus (covid-19). Reckon why?”
Hmmm. Gosh. I dunno. Reality?
I told the commenter (one I prefer not to respond to because of his wanton disregard for truth, but occasionally do to fight misinformation) that I refer to the novel coronavirus by its common scientific term, covid-19, as do the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Remember, I worked on the news side long before I was in opinion (and for a lot longer), and the tendency on the news side at most reputable outlets is to use the terminology employed by WHO and the CDC.
Please don’t make me define the line between news and opinion or what is reputable. I’m lacking in patience right now.
Ebola, first identified in 1976, was named for the river near where it was found. Zika is named for the Ziika Forest in Uganda where the virus was first isolated in 1947. Both of those names are well-established and are how WHO and the CDC refer to them.
Newer diseases tend to be named for biological components rather than where they originated or who discovered them. Having a common nomenclature avoids confusion across the medical world, so the older diseases’ names are often still used. We could try to get rid of those names, but as Vishesh Khanna, M.D., a resident physician at Stanford, told Stanford Medicine’s Scope blog, “There are certainly examples where eponymous disease names are so inculcated in medical vernacular that changing them to a pathology-based name might not be worth the effort.” Those would include diseases like Alzheimer’s, Hodgkins and Crohn’s.
The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses on Feb. 11 named the new virus “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).” That’s a mouthful, and WHO chose covid-19 as the common scientific name because, while the novel coronavirus is related to that which caused the 2003 SARS outbreak, the two are different, and using SARS in the name could promote confusion. Covid-19 stands for “corona” (co), “virus” (vi), and “disease” (d), and 19 for the year in which this particular virus became active.
It does not, despite a meme being circulated, stand for Chinese-originated viral infectious disease, with 19 standing for it being the 19th virus to come out of China.
Every time you hear a loud thud coming from the center of the state, it’s probably my head hitting the wall when I see something like this. I’ve got a pretty good bruise brewing right now. It’s starting to rival the many on my legs (thanks, genetics and blood-thinners!).
Calling it covid-19 identifies it as the specific virus that is causing the current pandemic; since there’s more than one coronavirus (named for the crown-like spikes on its surface, according to the CDC), that distinction is important. Coronaviruses can be mild (like a cold) or deadly (SARS, etc.), depending on the strain and other factors.
Is it politically correct to refer to covid-19 rather than Wuhan virus? Maybe, but continuing to call it Wuhan virus or Chinese virus after it’s been officially named smacks of politicization, especially considering the source who has insisted on that particular name and his history of inflaming racial and political tensions. If the medical experts refer to it as covid-19, that’s what I and most media members will call it. Take offense if you want to, but I take my cues from science and facts, not politics.
I know, nerdy. I’m OK with that.
A lot of us hoped that this quarantine would have quelled some of the hyperpartisan rancor that’s gone on for the past few years, but have been disappointed.
So it’s little wonder that I’ve spent a lot of time watching Netflix and Disney+ (well worth the $69.99 a year, in my opinion, and not just for the Marvel franchise … yep, big nerd). I’ve also been reading stories about people who have persevered and not let quarantine dampen their spirits, such as Great Britain’s “Golden Girls” who planned to spend the quarantine together laughing, drinking wine and watching Netflix (though one had to self-isolate before it began due to a recent pneumonia bout).
There’s also the Virginia man and his daughter who decided to buy groceries for people who had lost their jobs in the pandemic, ultimately paying for groceries for at least 30 people in line at a supermarket in Baileys Crossroads in late March. And the British man living in Madrid who raised money for 36 children’s charities affected by covid-19 by livestreaming an eight-hour cycling challenge in quarantine.
And while we’re at it, a loyal newspaper reader and frequent email correspondent sent me this poem Monday, which she is allowing me to share with you. We should all remember the sentiments and thank someone.
A Time of Waiting
In this time of waiting;
taking shallow breaths,
wondering what the future holds—
the Universe hears us, and takes note.
We grow weary of the news reports;
the constant speculation.
We long for peace and wellness.
Some turn to prayer or meditation,
and learn to listen
to that small, still voice.
It is time to pay attention
to that voice.
It is time to feel gratitude
for those on the front lines
of the battle,
and find ways to express it.
It is time to hope
despite the fact that fear
wants to be our friend.
Hope and fear will be coming by each day.
Fear enters abruptly, while
hope knocks politely.
Let them give voice;
but remember—you have a choice.
Please know that the energy
you send into the Universe
WILL make a difference.
—Mary N. Waters
Here’s hoping those little spots of light peeking through the clouds spread. Sunlight would be a good thing right now.