Being afraid of a disease is nothing new. The Biblical book of Leviticus, which was written about 1400 BC, says that people with Leprosy had to wear ragged clothes, keep their hair messy, and cover their mouth with their garment and call out, “Unclean, unclean.”
Sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it?
In 1911, the state of Georgia opened a Tuberculosis Sanitarium in Alto. It was considered to be a great milestone in healthcare. A lot of people went there and some of them came back in a pine box.
Around 1900, we started seeing localized outbreaks of polio. It was bad stuff. In the morning, you might have a headache. That same afternoon, you might be paralyzed. I remember when they started giving us the vaccine on a sugar cube at school. We have essentially wiped out polio in the U.S. and most of the world.
In 1918, as soldiers came home from World War I, we suffered a pandemic of influenza. 675,000 people died in the U.S. There is no universal consensus as to where it originated, but we had folks coming back to the U.S. from various corners of the world. It was particularly hard on younger people.
Then there was AIDS. Folks were scared of anybody who was gay. Some funeral homes were afraid to prepare the bodies of those who had died from the disease. At the time, there was no medicine to treat it and getting AIDS was almost a certain death sentence.
Now comes Covid-19, the Coronavirus.
Our state has lost one person, who also had other health issues. There are all sorts of things happening to prepare for the worst as we hope for the best.
Like many of you, I want this virus to go away. That’s not going to happen overnight. The only way it will happen is if we use a little common sense. You may remember common sense; it unfortunately is in short supply like toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Unless you have a terrible intestinal problem, you are not going to need 80 rolls of toilet paper over the next couple of weeks. You also do not need a case of the super-sized hand sanitizer or disinfectant spray.
If you are sick, don’t go out to eat, to church or any other place you may encounter a crowd of folks. A lot of those events have been canceled anyway. In your weakened condition; you may get something you don’t want.
Our government officials are making the best decisions they can. We have experts who understand the spread of viruses. However, some of the plans are made with the best estimation possible. If you don’t like the president or the governor, pray for them. The Bible tells us to do that.
Check on the elderly. If you have older neighbors and you’re going to the store, ask if you can get anything. Stay informed, but don’t obsess on the avalanche of information that is out there.
Wash your hands, cover your mouth if you cough and if you don’t feel good, stay home. We can whip this thing if we do the right things and also use our brains.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.