Scheffler: We’re living through history

Let’s take a step back and think about the COVID-19 situation unfolding around us.

Scheffler: We're living through history

Nick Scheffler

It’s 2020. A highly contagious virus is spreading throughout the world. While the young and healthy are spared from the more grievous and sometimes deadly symptoms of the infection, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions are very susceptible to its toxic grasp. The virus has obliterated the world economy as governments around the world shut down businesses and institute a moratorium on social gatherings in an effort to curtail the spread of the infection. Unemployment is skyrocketing. Everything has come to a screeching halt.

It’s a profound moment we’re currently living through, especially as a young person. You grow up hearing stories from older people about living through moments you read in history books: a Pearl Harbor story from a grandparent or a story about fleeing Castro’s Cuba from a great-aunt. But no matter how good a person is at storytelling, as a listener you never truly feel what it’s like to live in that surreal moment in time. This will be, and already is, for the front-line healthcare workers and others in the middle of this pandemic, one of the moments in time we give our first-hand accounts about to future generations. Fortunately, as of right now, I get to tell them, “I got to stay in and play video games.” Tragically, other stories are going to be significantly more intense. 

The craziest part of it all is it’s only been a week since the shit really hit the fan for us here in the States. Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy here at the U, said on a recent Joe Rogan Experience podcast episode that he keeps telling people, “We’re handling this like it’s a corona blizzard, two or three days then it’s back to normal. This is a coronavirus winter.” Winter is here and we have no idea when the whitewalkers are coming. Osterholm conservatively estimates that there will be 96 million cases and over 48 thousand deaths from this virus worldwide. As of March 21, there are a little more than 400,000 confirmed cases worldwide and more than 18,000 deaths. Experts say the number of people infected is probably higher than what is confirmed. 

This story is still unraveling and will be for quite some time. Hopefully, it has a pretty boring ending for most of us. The uncertainty of the future, the social isolation and the overall surrealness of what’s happening are enough to make anyone uncomfortable. For the sake of having some optimism, which would be much harder for those who’ve lost their jobs or loved ones, there may be some benefit from a world where everyone is indiscriminately struggling together. Everyone has a part to play in this crisis. While the degrees of turmoil differ, this virus is something that can affect the homeless person on the corner all the way to the president of the United States. I am just very anxious for the global event that tops this one down the road.