With the UK going into a total self-imposed quarantine, several large American cities in lockdown, and distressing scenes in Spain and Italy, life right now feels chaotic and insecure. It’s a crisis. The economy has ground to a halt.
These are the worst of times.
And yet there is hope. This is temporary. It will end. Already, there are reasons to be optimistic.
So if you’re feeling a bit hopeless, consider:
Life in China and South Korea is returning to normal
China has reported very few new domestic coronavirus cases since March 6. (Most cases have been reported among travelers arriving from elsewhere.)
Deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, are down to fewer than 10 per day — a tiny number for a country of China’s size.
Hubei is emerging from quarantine
The lockdown has been lifted in most of Hubei province, where the outbreak began. Wuhan, the city where the virus originated, is due to lift restrictions on April 8.
Many travel restrictions have ended. People can leave their homes again. This is good news.
There are signs that the rate of infection in Italy is moderating
Twice now, Italy has recorded brief periods in which new coronavirus cases and deaths have declined. True, those may merely be blips in the data. On Tuesday, authorities reported 5,249 new cases and 743 new deaths. Both totals were below the peak, set three days ago.
The overall rate of infections is slowing — as if the pandemic is losing momentum inside a country where it has nowhere to go.
China, South Korea, and Italy show that lockdowns, mass testing, and other aggressive government interventions seem to work. We have tools to deal with this. We can use them.
The time frame for ‘getting through this’ seems to be a little over 2 months
It may feel as if you’re in prison right now, but the sentence is a short one. It ends.
Spring and summer will likely be helpful
There is some evidence that the virus prefers colder, wetter conditions. Many human diseases — like colds and the flu — wane in the sunnier months. Spring is upon us. Summer is around the corner. Things will likely get better.
If you’re under lockdown right now, it’s likely because the government is using a dumb quarantine — restricting the healthy as well as the sick. If governments could make mass testing available, we would need to quarantine only the infected, making it easier for us to get back to normal.
This is a matter of logistics — no medical miracles needed.
There will be a treatment
Several companies are working on COVID-19 therapies and treatments. Coupled with testing, science will eventually beat this disease. It’s a matter of time. The future is brighter than the present.
Most people who get COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms
Getting sick is bad, but the vast majority of people recover.
We won’t all die
That’s not a particularly cheerful fact to point out. And the loss of life yet to come will be heartbreaking. But this is not the end of society or civilization. We will go on.
Society has not broken down into postapocalyptic anarchy
When bad things happen in the movies, the government collapses, cities explode, and zombies eat the survivors.
There’s a particular strain in our culture that obsesses over these scenarios (think of preppers and their doomsday bunkers). But we have been through several “apocalypses” in recent memory — 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, the Northeast blackout of 2003 — and none of them turned into anarchy.
People look after one another, and communities get back on their feet
All round my neighborhood in London, people are posting notes volunteering to deliver food to elderly people living alone. Crisis tends to be met with kindness, not civil war.
We’re good people — and we will get through this
There is hope!