Today’s show is the story of a conversation that happened in our household and probably mirrors conversations that are happening all over the world and maybe in your household.
The messages of social isolation have been clear for weeks. We are in the middle of an exponential growth in the number of cases of the disease, the number of critical cases, and the number of deaths. When you know the equation, it’s simple math to predict the future.
We made the decision to keep isolated within our household and to minimize trips outside the house. My wife has transitioned all her client appointments to video conference calls. I’ve cancelled all my travel and we have made minimal trips outside the house for critical supplies.
After dinner on Sunday night my son announced that he was going out for a walk. That seemed perfectly OK. But after about 45 minutes he wasn’t home and we saw that he had gone for a walk in his car.
A quick phone call discovered that he was out for a walk with a girl. He had all kinds of justifications. The girl had been in isolation for weeks, and he had been in isolation and they were walking outdoors in nature, and he was tired of being cooped up in the house and needed to get out.
At this stage we have examples of community transmission in our city. The public health lines are getting jammed with thousands of calls. The testing centres remained open until they ran out of tests. It’s clear that we don’t know, and probably will never know who does and doesn’t get the disease. The public health officials are saying at this stage not to call. If you have symptoms, stay home. If you are really sick and are having trouble breathing, then call your doctor to get an over the phone assessment. Most clinics have closed their doors and are only admitting patients after a phone screening.
The result was a difficult conversation with my son. The isolation practice in our house can’t be a leaky bucket. Either we’re in isolation or we’re not. Right now, and for the foreseeable future we’re choosing isolation.
My son shared that he takes the current situation seriously and that he’s being ridiculed by many of his peers as a result. I’m seeing many examples on social media of people who are not taking this seriously. A friend of mine in Las Vegas posted a large group photo. One last group shot before we go into isolation was the caption. I was dismayed to see the photo. They’re not bad people. They are just a little further behind in their adjustment to the current reality.
As with any change, there will be a spectrum of adjustment reactions. There will be those who accept the new reality almost instantly. They probably represent the usually early adopter percentage of the population. Then you have those who are easily convinced. After that you have the mass of the population who will follow when ordered by government to act a certain way. Finally there are those who will be dragged kicking and screaming every step of the way.
We now know of people in the community who we believe have contracted the disease. The numbers are still small compared with the global situation. In every case, they didn’t think they were taking a risk.
But here’s the problem, most of those who are carriers are not exhibiting any symptoms. They are completely asymptomatic and they are infectious, silently spreading the disease to everyone they come in contact with.
I believe that people are basically good with good intentions. They also believe that the risks are low when less than 0.1% of the population have been diagnosed. But many of these same people will go out and buy lottery tickets where the chances of winning are less than one in a million.
My son pledged to uphold the rules of our house. I truly believe that he meant no harm, but in spite of this he did put our home at risk.