Wanderlust is perhaps the most infectious phenomenon of all. The worst part about is the fact that it is also an addiction, with some of the worst withdrawal symptoms ever. These may include restlessness, envy (of other travelers), and constantly wastage of time planning future trips while at work. I’ve experienced all of the above, and so I understand the temptation to take off on an adventure now more so than ever as we see incredibly cheap airfares and hotel room rates. And there almost seems to be ample justification for this anywhere along the lines of:
- “I can go support the local economy”
- “There won’t be anyone on the plane anyway”
- “I have to do my part to keep the airlines running”
- “I’ve worked hard for this vacation, I deserve it”
- “I’m going to a low risk area anyway”
I personally went through all of these reasoning and debating the usage of my 5k award ticket to New Zealand, where there are very few cases of coronavirus. I ultimately canceled due to two reasons: I live with my grandparents and I didn’t want to put me, my fellow travelers, or New Zealanders at risk.
While many of these reasons seem like valid justification, there is no such thing anymore when it comes to “safe” travel. You are either putting yourself or the people around you at risk. You’ve probably read enough and heard enough about it to realize that the novel Coronavirus is serious business. If you think there is a serious low risk area you can travel to from the United States/Europe now, you are woefully mistaken. Just look at the lines at the airports to get screened for the virus upon arrival, the risk of any sort of infection in that is not negligible.
This is the scene at O’Hare airport. The traveler who took the photo said it’s a 6-hour wait for bags then on to customs for 2-4 more of waiting in shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. Police are handing out water and disinfectant wipes. @fly2ohare #ord #coronavirus #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/UTx9E0nj1s
— Brooke Geiger McDonald (@BrookeGMcDonald) March 15, 2020
While you may be coming from a “low risk” country or going to one, you will almost certainly collide with people from all walks of life at the airports, train stations, bus stations, and more. Heck you can even get Coronavirus for going to the bar, restaurant, or even your local grocery store. On top of that recent studies seem to indicate that asymptomatic transmission is becoming increasingly prevalent in the United States, as indicated by the outbreak in Massachusetts. So don’t just look at someone and think they are fine if they aren’t coughing up a lung.
With all of that being said the only way to prevent the coronavirus from spreading is to contain it. It is time to take confidence in the fact that lock downs in Singapore and Taiwan have yielded swift results, seriously slowing down the progression of the epidemic.
The way I see it, there are two ways to go about this: the government eventually forcing citywide lock downs or people taking the responsibility to stay away from others and staying home as much as possible. I don’t know about you, but I seriously prefer secluding myself voluntarily.
If you are one of those people that is secretly or quite openly hoping (like our president) that this disease will disappear with the onset of summer and warmer temperatures, think again. This virus is starting to spread to equatorial destinations and the Southern Hemisphere (where it is summer). Just remember that even with a seasonal cycle, a few months from now it will be winter in the Southern Hemisphere, which may or may not ensure the survival of this strain of Coronavirus.
After reading all this if you are still thinking that I am crazy about what I am talking about just take a look at all the news stories and first hand accounts from Italy:
- Italy’s Health Care System Groans Under Coronavirus – a Warning to the World
- The Extraordinary Decisions Facing Italian Doctors
- Healthcare on the brink of collapsing
- Why is Italy’s Outbreak so Bad?
Physicians in Italy are literally having to make the choice between who gets to live and who gets to die because the healthcare system is so overwhelmed. That is hopefully something that hits home to everyone resisting the concept of social distancing. I personally work as a healthcare administrator at a medical practice and would hate to see any of the physicians, nurses, or staff working at our practice make those insane decisions. And I certainly don’t want that decision to be made about a family member or friend.
Last of all, let’s not forget that there is a serious health care provider shortage in the United States. If a large percentage of our providers become infected, the fallout from this pandemic can easily reach the worst case estimates that the CDC has provided (214 Million Infected, 1.7 Million Dead).
Is social distancing going to tank the economy? Yes in the short term, but our healthcare system won’t be overwhelmed and more of us will live to fight the economic battle another day. Life is always worth more than money.
Now is definitely the time to binge shows on Netflix with your favorite snack on your couch. Isn’t that what most people dream of doing in the first place? Why resist that now? There will come another day in the future when deals are abundant and the Coronavirus no more (especially with the fallout recession). That would be ever so much closer, if we all come together now and practice some serious social distancing. If you get bored, go outside and go for a jog, away from people. And definitely stop all travel! It becomes absolutely impossible for our healthcare providers to trace viral transmission if people keep moving!
I would love to hear your thoughts guys on living in the real life Contagion movie. What measures are you taking?