Watching the daily numbers as COVID-19 spreads around the globe is like being on the sidelines as two huge bodies head for the inevitable crash. You know it is going to happen; being an ostrich and talking about “relaxing things next week so that we don’t damage the economy further” is just total and complete idiocy.
I do have friends/family who are relatively safe. They live in rural Canada, rural Minnesota, remote Alaska. Used to functioning for weeks at a time during the winter, their chances of riding this pandemic out are fairly good. The rest of us? Especially the city dwellers? Not so good.
Especially those of us who have younger family and friends not taking restrictions seriously, use guilt if you need to. Use whatever lever required to have them act responsibly. Stupid behavior, ignoring social distancing, having loud parties and hanging out in crowds doesn’t just risk them, it risks the rest of us. The rest of us who are likely to put a burden on the medical system and decrease the availability of care for others.
Face it, the developed world has done an excellent job over the last 40 years of overall decrease of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality. Not perfectly, but with enough of an increase that we have a significant population of under 21s who have serious medical and physical challenges. We have done fairly good job with diabetes since the addition of insulin to treatment (around 1926) such that we have thousands upon thousands now alive with increased susceptibility to both infection and a nasty tendency to have their disease spiral out of control with any illness. There are all of us who are cancer survivors. Then add in everyone who is on various immune suppressive therapies for arthritis, connective tissue disease, auto-immune disorders.
In the developing world, there are just as many challenges, but of a different sort. Intercurrent diseases, like malaria and other parasites as well as malnutrition, We have seen huge demographic changes in most sub-Saharan African countries where HIV took out huge swaths of adults, leaving children to be raised by grandparents. Those elders who have survived to this point are now at risk in countries where 45+% of the population is aged 16 and below. Take a look at this site where you can see age distributions in the population.
Compare Western Africa to Western Europe. As an aside, looking at this also may provide some understanding about the lack of teachers, health care providers, and other what we might consider essential personnel. There are simply too many young people and not enough people & resources to train their replacements, much less the ability to expand the ranks.
And for another look at reality – as everyone panicked in mid-March at the thought of 18k deaths world wide – the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) alone had 6000 deaths from measles in 2019 – almost all young children and over 480,000 deaths from malaria.
Are we reacting as NIMBY?
Or have the US numbers of over 42,000 deaths finally struck home? The world is not the same as it was last fall. The developed world, for all its conveniences, medical access, clean water, and abundant power – is facing the grief, loss, and out of control that characterizes much of the developing world on a daily basis.
What each of us does, affects everyone else as well as having long ranging effect on society, the environment and potentially, all of our survival.