Opening Up Again, But On Virus Time

Suddenly, much of the world is opening up again. Quickly.

It’s a confusing time. As I write this, Minnesota is allowing some more businesses to open with restrictions. Wisconsin is mostly open again after state-level restrictions were removed due to a court ruling, not because the state reached a specific safety milestone. Bars there are busy again. Minnesotans can head over for a haircut, dinner and drinks.

Just as I was getting used to doing nothing, my postponed dental work and cataract surgery were quickly rescheduled and should have been completed by the time you read this. Check the obituaries to see if I survived. Catherine and I have also each been tested for the virus. I also had the test for antibodies.

Catherine was tested because she had a slight cough. She’s had the cough for awhile and I finally convinced her to get checked out. There was some confusion about whether she needed the test or not but she did get it. It was negative.

My tests were both on Sunday morning. Yep, Sunday, in the pouring rain. The best I could do was schedule them to be right after our church’s Zoom service, which I’ve been coordinating from our home. Then, due to a technical glitch, the service started 15 minutes late. Halfway through the service I showed Catherine which buttons to click as I walked out the door for my tests.

For the antibody test, I had been directed to look for a sign with a number to call once I got to Mayo Clinic Health Center – Red Wing. The only number I saw was for the pharmacy, which I realized once I called it. What I didn’t realize was that I hadn’t hung up and it recorded my not-very-Christian mumbling. I finally figured out where to park and which number to call. They soon called me back and I got the blood draw.

Then I drove to the old St. John’s Hospital to get the other test. You drive through the narrow emergency entrance from the opposite way. (How did they ever get ambulances through there?) The nurse told me it would would be “quite an experience.” Yes, getting a long swab drilled halfway through my brain on a Sunday morning during a rainstorm was an experience I’ll remember for awhile.

My results were both negative. So much for my theory that Catherine and I already had the coronavirus in early February. Dang.

On our way back to whatever we consider normal, we’ll will have to endure a lot of strange procedures. We’re now on virus time and its rules. We can slow it down some. We can hide in our homes for awhile. But before it is truly gone it will find most of us unless a vaccine comes along first. That will take time. Virus time.

The virus is a parasite that just wants to survive and we happen to accommodate it very well. Some people sense that it’s getting closer, that it’s just over the horizon and will get us eventually. And that’s fine with them. Get it over with and get back to normal. “Good luck Grandma and Grandpa! We’re praying for you.”

So, we have a conundrum. We need the economy to turn around but we don’t want people to die unnecessarily, regardless of age. With millions of cases and millions out of work and school, current projections are that we will increase the number of cases if we open things up too quickly. But if people can’t work, many of them won’t have insurance to cover medical costs if they do get the virus.

So, we muddle our way through this. It’s the American way. Winston Churchill supposedly said that Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all other possibilities. Yes, that’s what happens in a large, diverse nation of ideas.

We make decisions based on information. At least we should. An important piece of information that most of us haven’t fully witnessed is what it’s like for someone to go from early symptoms to recovery or death. Most of us also haven’t had to console a victim’s family that wasn’t able to say goodbye. Some of us will and that might change some opinions.

So would well-known elected officials getting the disease. Just ask Boris Johnson, England’s prime minister, who didn’t seem too concerned about the virus until he was hospitalized with it. During that time his girlfriend gave birth to their child and he wasn’t allowed to visit her in the hospital.

Even if the virus soon subsides, this summer will be like no other. Special events are canceled. How many would attend even if held later? An epidemiologist’s view is that the pandemic is like a hurricane. We might reach the eye of the hurricane where the virus has subsided. But then the back side of the storm hits.

So, we push on and even try new things. I trimmed Catherine’s hair along the neckline, proving that I’m no threat to hairstylists.

Meanwhile, I’m watching Wisconsin to see what happens.

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