I don’t know where to begin this morning. We have all received more than enough COVID-19 information over the past week or so. We’re all pretty sick of it.
This bug did start out being called the Wuhan novel coronavirus, so the novelty might be spurring all the apparent media hysteria over it. I don’t know. I think that any unknown virus that comes out of nowhere and starts killing people merits a bit of momentary panic.
“Momentary” is the important word in that last sentence. I had a few seconds of that back in January when the first case showed up in Seattle.
In addition to the work I do for the L-V and a couple of its sister publications, I also contribute to a few websites. One of my online roles is being a type of biblical watcher on the walls, on the lookout for strange new diseases that might present a problem to humans.
I began doing my own shopping and stocking up on Jan. 22. It seemed best to get it done early and then stay out of the way while everyone else mobbed the stores. Then I wrote an L-V article a week later in an effort to give our readers a few extra weeks to prepare.
This week, I have only heard or read other people’s stories. The last time I went to Walmart was two weeks ago for a pick-up order. There was really no reason to go inside because I was already well-stocked with bathroom tissue.
Bathroom tissue has a genteel air to it, doesn’t it? I remember one of my grade-school teachers scolding us when we called it toilet paper. Perhaps we might go back to calling it by its gentler name in an effort to scrub from our minds all those television-news images of crowded stores, overladen shopping carts and fistfights in the aisles.
People are hardwired to be just a little crazy, I think. America still has many paper mills and an abundant supply of trees. Toilet paper is one of the last things that we’re going to run out of.
Spare parts for just about any kind of machinery is another matter. If you have an automobile, most of its components were made in China, South Korea or Japan and then assembled in a U.S. plant. Tractors and eighteen-wheelers have a similar heritage.
Air conditioners, household fans, gas pumps, farm machinery, water and sewerage pumps — nearly everything we take for granted has parts and pieces that were made in some of the hardest-hit countries.
If you are staying home because of COVID-19 and getting a little stir-crazy, now might be the time to read up on how to repair all kinds of things. It’s what our parents and grandparents did during the lean years of the Great Depression and the rationing of World War II.
Right now, the U.S. food supply is said to be more than adequate to keep everyone fed. But the people who make this possible are going to get sick and may not be able to plant and harvest crops. As time goes on, we might not have the same broad selection in our favorite stores.
This is a good time to taking up gardening if it isn’t one of your hobbies. Not everyone has access to a piece of land to till or the physical ability to wield a shovel. Nearly every problem has a solution.
A couple of big flower pots and a large bag of potting soil can yield lettuce, onions, carrots, tomatoes and potatoes. The amount of produce you harvest won’t feed you and your family for a year, but it is one little bit of food that you don’t have to shop for. And it is a sure cure for stuck-in-the-house wackiness.
Think of it as your own personal Victory Garden. Fighting and facing down COVID-19 really is a world war, but this time we’re all on the same side. If you can grow even a small part of your own food, you are a good and faithful soldier.
Our great-grandparents had to deal with the so-called Spanish flu in 1918-19. Seven hundred years ago, all our distant ancestors survived the Black Death. Most of us will survive COVID-19 or whatever it is being called.
The human race is incredibly tough and resilient. There have been many times in the course of history when it looked as though the funny-looking creatures that walked upright might not see another day. And yet, here we are.
One of the major reasons that we have survived is because people learned to take care of one another. A broken leg would have meant certain death, but archaeologists have found skeletons with broken bones that healed. That sort of thing only happened because somebody else tended the injured person and kept him fed.
So, yes, “we’re all in this together” is not a random string of words strung together to make a politician feel good about himself. This is how things are done.
We can do it.
[Susan Kerr is a semi-retired freelance writer living in her hometown of New Bethlehem. Previously, she was the managing editor of a regional-interest magazine and a business journal in State College.]