The Gentle Slope Toward Uncertainty
Coronavirus feels like a serial killer that we are no closer to catching.
Lombardy. The region in Italy that is home to as many as 16 million people has been cut off from the rest of the boot to save it.
Months ago, we expressed astonishment that China could wall off its megacities. It seemed like the hallmark of an authoritarian government, an overly aggressive and anti-citizen response to a problem that its leader’s own ignorance had created. Trying to apply that to the U.S. was unfathomable. What would Los Angeles look like if nobody could get in or out? What would it mean to be an American who couldn’t roam freely in their own country, much less county?
And yet, it seems to have worked. The numbers, however dubiously we can look at them, indicate a slowdown in new infections. The over the top response was painful and dystopian but effective.
In Italy, in response to a substantial outbreak that may have been linked to Fashion Week of all things, the dire helplessness of the situation forced a democratic, modern society to take those same measures. Perhaps not as militantly, but hopefully as effectively.
But here at home, the news is frantic and sorely lacking in detail. Like so many national issues, Coronavirus itself has become infected by political persuasion, and worst of all, we find ourselves subject to the incoherent ramblings of our fearless leader, trying to straddle the line between total denial and unwarranted bravado.
The President seems to feel that by speaking it into existence, a cure would manifest. The tests that have still not been circulated would magically track all the cases, and within weeks, our stock market would overcome its temporary anemia.
But of course, none of that makes sense to believe because we are still so in the dark. The numbers we know are small, only a few hundred cases nationally, and deaths are thankfully fewer. But they have been increasing daily and spreading widely.
This has left us, the people, to be our own detectives. Tracking down these individual cases and looking for clues. While the country argues about the true severity of the virus, we see only its wake as it moves through each sector.
Will we find ourselves okay in the end, lucky enough to have gotten the whole thing wrong, as the President suggests? Or will we find ourselves backed into a corner like Lombardy, with miles of traffic in all directions as people take the last train out of town before it closes?
It is said that Olympus Mons on Mars, the tallest planetary mountain in the solar system, is so massive and has such a gradual slope that you would hardly perceive its height if you were able to hike to the peak. And yet, the extinct volcano is twice as tall as Mt. Everest.
It still feels like we are moving up the gentlest slopes with coronavirus, unable to see the peak. How much farther is it to the top, and how high will it be when we get there?