Decision-making during a pandemic
Several weeks ago I booked a flight for this week. I was going to fly into Fort Lauderdale, my brother would pick me up and take me back to his place, my sister-in-law was going to take me to my parents the next morning so I could surprise them and I would fly out of West Palm Beach airport a few days later. Today I cancelled that trip.
On the one hand, it was not an easy choice. My mother fell a few weeks ago, and while she thankfully only suffered a hairline fracture in her hip, she was stuck using a walker now for the time being. Not fun. I knew a visit would cheer her up. I also knew that this situation meant it highly unlikely that my parents would make their annual trek to my home in Georgia for Passover. So I wanted to cheer me up.
And then Covid-19 hit. I watched the numbers in Georgia growing each day, especially in my county, but the numbers in Florida were far lower. I also knew once coronavirus entered South Florida, it would be bad since its population is an older one. My parents reported that their Boynton Beach community cancelled all club house programming. Florida’s Governor admitted community spread was happening, but he also outlined how the state was stockpiling tests and building up reserves of respirators and ventilators. He understands that when it hits, it will hit hard. Still, I thought, maybe I could do this. Their county had only one case so far. I was washing my hands religiously, rarely leaving the house. I would be careful.
At the same time, I began thinking about all the things people touch when they are out – door knobs, stair banisters, elevator buttons, menus, chairs – and how long the virus can survive on those surfaces. Given the high traffic of travelers, I even ordered individually wrapped 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes online and figured I’d use them to touch whatever I needed to in the airport and on the airplane.
But the more I read, the more I understood how important it is now more than ever to stay home.
One meme on Facebook struck a chord: “You know how everyone rushed to the stores at the same time and bought everything out at once instead of staggering their visits? Now imagine the same thing in the hospital, but instead of TP, it’s ICU beds and ventilators that are out. This is why everything is cancelled.” Succinct and to the point. This is the time to slow the progress. Because it will progress.
Israel’s taken pretty drastic steps early on. They are continuing to do so. Because they know they have to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed as they are in Italy. Italian doctors are being forced to choose who gets treatment and who does not, essentially deciding who shall live and who shall die. “From an Italian to the rest of the world: you have no idea about what’s coming” paints a very dire picture. But one everyone must read.
The Washington Post’s “Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to ‘flatten the curve'” uses simulations to create a visual depiction of how spread will happen and how it can be slowed. Each of us can help that happen. How? Stay home. And so I knew. There was no way I could take the chance of picking up Covid-19 at the airport or en route and bringing it to South Florida. I would never forgive myself if that were to happen.
And so, in the end, it really was an easy decision.