I can be a fairly anxious person, perhaps not the best trait to have in my current profession, which often requires that you be bold and step outside of your comfort zone.
Yet, since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Leflore County, as well as the rest of Mississippi, I’ve found that I’ve been more anxious than usual. I’ve felt my stomach drop, my breathing go faster and a general sense of dread. I’ve found that I pay more attention to surfaces I touch with my bare hands, that I avoid groups of people as much as possible and I now wash my hands more often.
It’s hard to escape news of COVID-19, which now dominates headlines. I cover COVID-19 locally for the paper and read about it whenever I can in my spare time. My days begin and end reading about the novel coronavirus through news alerts on my phone. I listen to news coverage on NPR when I drive.
Presumably like a lot of other people, I gave little notice to COVID-19 late last year when it began to spread in China. I didn’t give a second thought when the virus reached Italy and later on in Washington, the first state hit.
I’ve always found Greenwood to be a world of its own and figured the novel coronavirus wouldn’t reach a rural area. Of course, I was clearly wrong, as a virus isn’t immune to borders.
I know I’m not the only one who’s been feeling anxious. Normalcy has been disrupted. People have lost their jobs and friends and loved ones to the virus.
Usually in times of a catastrophe we gather together to help each other out. This time, however, with no readily available vaccine for the novel coronavirus, we’ve been urged to sequester ourselves inside our homes, keeping in touch with loved ones and friends through Zoom and FaceTime.
It’s disconcerting to me to see that some throughout the state still don’t take the novel coronavirus seriously, likening it to “just the flu,” contrary to what experts have said — namely that the coronavirus is worse than the flu and likely infects more people.
My hunch is that because Mississippi hasn’t been hit as hard by the virus, unlike other places, such as New York City or Italy, where the death tolls are higher and social restrictions are more stringent, there’s less reason for alarm.
There’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of things we can’t control at this moment. It’s unclear when students can go back to school, when businesses and restaurants can resume normal operations or when we can start socializing as normal.
It’s also unclear when more mass-scale testing for COVID-19 can be done.
Because I, like others, might be an asymptomatic carrier, I’m not sure when I can go back home to Kansas City to see my mom and brother since I could possibly infect them.
The White House said a vaccine for COVID-19 could be developed within 18 months, though other medical experts have expressed skepticism, saying the process usually takes longer than that.
What is known is that for some time to come the way of life as it is now — practicing social distancing and wearing masks, for example — will be the new normal.
A few weeks ago I interviewed John Rose for a story about the coronavirus.
Since then I’ve kept in mind one thing he told me: “Don’t lose hope. If we lose hope, then we lose everything. We can lose money, we can lose homes, we can lose material possessions, all that stuff. But if we lose hope, that’s it. Game over. Just don’t lose hope. Hang on to it, look out for it.”
Amid uncertain times, there are things that are certain. We can’t lose hope, and we need to continue practicing the recommended safeguards to avoid spreading the virus.
It’s all we’ve got right now.
• Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or email@example.com.