I traveled to France in mid-February to conduct some work. When I arrived, the coronavirus was a Chinese issue in a city I had never heard of before.
Ten days after my flight here, I read on Facebook that the village I was in had three cases of coronavirus in a village of 4,000.
Since then the official and unofficial rates have varied. However, it appears without doubt the infection rate doubles every two days even after the community is aware of the infections. This rate in our village roughly matches Italian and Chinese official numbers.
Americans are no more or less susceptible to this virus than European or Asians. France is now on 100 percent quarantine for 15 days in houses and hotel rooms. We had approximately four hours to prepare for this quarantine. Everyone was calm and respectful while purchasing supplies and only taking necessary items to leave things for others.
I have looked into the face of sufferers. A laborer in his 30s who suffered a mild flu for a few days. A man in his 50s suffering the worst respiratory flu of his life. A lady in her 60s who was hospitalized days ago with no word within my network of how she is doing.
These are real people, not statistics. They are friends, family, co-workers, etc. I worry about them but I will not venture out except to get food should I run low. It is my responsibility, in case I have been infected, to stay put.
I have heard that Cedar Rapids had its first case this week. This is not about economics, politics or overblown worrying. In France, the virus is real. It is in Iowa now. It is circulating as you read this to a level you will comprehend only after it is too late. I did not worry about the virus affecting me personally. Now I know I came into very proximity to it multiple times a day, while I believed it was on another continent.
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Prepare now. Prepare rationally. Prepare with compassion for others. Protect our elderly and immunocompromised. We love them all.
France is facing this pandemic. Iowa and the United States have a matter of days to decide whether they will do what is necessary to flatten the curve to protect our vulnerable neighbors and family members as well as our health care system, or ignore it until it is too late and triage is the only option left.
As for quarantine, we will find ways, yet unknown, of making our days brighter as we all work to reduce the harm. Spreading the virus to anyone is far worse than a few weeks quarantined in a house. It is time to celebrate the quarantine and use social media for the purpose it was intended, not spreading misinformation and cat videos, but spreading real human contact to others when we can’t be with them and making us all feel closer together, a little more human.
Slaton Anthony works for a Cedar Rapids company. He served in the Army National Guard and is a former Mount Vernon City Council member.