My *expletive* attempt to get my family to take COVID-19/coronavirus seriously. It *expletive* worked. Send this letter to yours now.
Scroll down for the actual letter, which you can copy/paste into an email or your favorite messaging app. Send it to whoever matters to you.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been growing increasingly frustrated with how my family has been responding to my suggestions on how to respond to and prep for the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, especially as it reaches an unfortunate tipping point in the US. Instead of venting about the US Government’s response (their reckoning will come), I’m focusing on the people closest to me.
When reports of Italy’s hospital infrastructure distress started to disseminate on Monday, March 9th, I was compelled to write a pleading letter to my family: suggestions on how to mitigate as much risk as possible for our aging, high-risk parents (as well as ourselves) and enough data to back it. Titled “What to do now before COVID-19/coronavirus cases explode in the US”. Direct. Comprehensive. Doomsaying in the most pleasant way I could doomsay.
In hindsight, I was too cordial and calm in my approach. I was suggesting what should be done. Not ordering. Not demanding. My family listened, but didn’t listen hard enough.
On Saturday, March 14th, much of America wasn’t listening either. A Twitter search for “bars” reveals the US having the same indifference towards the virus as Italy had last weekend, exactly 7 days ago. And 4 days later, Italy completely shutdown.
I have no clue what will happen in the US in 4 days. What I do know is that I can firmly affect the people I don’t want to lose. So to further condemn my forever guilt-ridden Catholic upbringing, I used a fucking expletive to fucking change how we I talked about this fucking catastrophe, and it fucking worked. My family is staying the fuck home.
The following is what I sent, formatted for easy copy/pasting into an email or your favorite messaging app. Modify as needed and go to sleep knowing that you fucking tried. And 4 days from now, the US will be a little less fucked because of that.
The Letter (originally written Saturday, March 14, 2020 @ ~10:00pm PT):
I’m not sure how serious you thought my previous coronavirus letter was, but to be absolutely clear on this one, I’m fucking serious. Here’s an update on what you should be doing right fucking now to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on you and yours:
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I HAVE TO SAY:
- Infected people with COVID-19/coronavirus do not all appear sick. Some don’t have a cough or have a fever. Some take 2 days to show symptoms, others 14. Some have no symptoms at all. They are all infectious. And if you get infected, there’s no way of telling what symptoms you will have. When symptoms do show, you were already infectious for many days prior without knowing it. All because there aren’t enough tests right now. We can’t control any of this. (https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/14/health/coronavirus-asymptomatic-spread/index.html)
- Minimize your chances of unknowingly getting infected by staying home, NOW. That’s the only thing we can control. Only leave if you absolutely must, to stock up on food, medication, or to handle significant obligations. Try as hard as possible to stay 100% at home, only with your family, for at least 7 days. Hopefully by then, we’ll have a more accurate number of Americans infected, how our hospitals are holding up, and whether any of us may have contracted the virus. Til then, all we can do is wait.
- Americans are not taking this seriously. There are reports of people partying, at bars, hanging out in large groups, oblivious to how much infectious spread they’re increasing. This negligent attitude is exactly what Italy was doing last weekend (7 days ago) until the government finally shut everything down 4 days later. Italy’s mortality rate is currently at 7%, far greater than the average, much of it stemming from the same negligence we’re exhibiting (https://time.com/5800605/coronavirus-lockdown-covid-19-italy).
- If you don’t already know this, coronavirus carriers can shed the virus while being asymptomatic. That means they can infect others without appearing/feeling sick themselves. That’s why social distancing measures are so adamant about the 6-foot rule and washing hands cause you can’t assume people aren’t infectious if they don’t look sick (https://www.sciencenews.org/article/coronavirus-most-contagious-before-during-first-week-symptoms).
- Further, a study yesterday suggests the median incubation time for the newly infected to show symptoms from COVID-19 is 5.1 days, with 97.5% showing symptoms within 11.5 days (https://www.jwatch.org/na51083/2020/03/13/covid-19-incubation-period-update). This aligns with the CDC-suggested 14 days of self-quarantine if you’ve come into contact with someone that’s been infected; sufficient time for you to be sure that you aren’t infected yourself.
- The US test coverage is still woefully underestimated. There are far more people out there that are infected than the current numbers suggest. And because we can’t test everyone, we have to assume everyone could be infected: asymptomatic, mild, or otherwise. Odds are most aren’t, but those odds are decreasing every single time someone goes outside.
- The true number of Americans infected last Monday would, on average, start to show symptoms this weekend and for sure this coming week. That number is a lot smaller than what will come from all the people partying and acting nonchalantly this weekend. I had hope that the US Government finally declaring a national state emergency on Friday would get the general public to take this pandemic more seriously, but some can’t give up this one weekend (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/14/opinion/coronavirus-bars-lockdown.html).
Suggestions for the next few days:
- Stay home. Call friends. FaceTime parents. Let them talk to the grandkids. Take temperatures and watch for symptoms. Don’t focus on the US numbers. Focus on yourselves.
- The only reason you should be going outside right now is to get food or medication. You have enough toilet paper and disinfectant. When making your rounds, go solo and try to stay at least 6-feet from everyone, regardless if they look healthy or not. If they’re about to cough, jump out of their way. Sanitize your hands and disinfect surfaces, like door handles, when you get back to your car. When you get home, change into indoor-only clothes. Wipe down anything you brought in from outside. Overreact and be paranoid for a little bit, you won’t regret it days from now (https://time.com/5801010/coronavirus-overreaction/).
- If you’re at Costco/supermarket in line with an endless amount of people, that’s a vector of infection. Minimize your time there or try corner stores, bodegas, small community markets. They have everything you need and fewer crowds. You only need 1 person to shop, not the whole family. Use self checkout if available. Focus on adding to your food and medication supply. Not toilet paper.
- Only physically interact with your family unit if possible. If you have to interact with anyone else, try to maintain the 6-feet precaution the best you can regardless of relations. Wash hands and disinfect any good handed over. Don’t let the kids play with other kids. Don’t let the kids play with other kids’ toys. Don’t let the kids play on playgrounds or in ball pits or anything that’s not from your home.
- There’s a chance one of us is already infected and are asymptomatic. As such, try not to hug, kiss, close contact, share food/drink, any other means that may spread droplets. This will reduce the chance we infect each other in our own homes before symptoms appear or tests become available.
- If anyone starts to cough, has shortness of breath, or runs a fever, these are the most common signs of COVID-19. Please isolate them from the rest of your family. Keep everyone calm. Reference CDC guides and talk to your physician. Assess as the situation warrants.
- Forward this to others. It doesn’t hurt to overreact. It will really hurt if we don’t react.
If you have questions, please call me.