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Americans need to face facts regarding COVID-19

To the editor:

I’ve held off writing this letter for too long. COVID-19 is real and things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. The degree of severity is solely dependent on our willingness to honestly face the new reality that Mother Nature hit the jackpot with this one! Anyone that has ever worked in the realm of emerging diseases, as I have, has known that this day was inevitable.

There has always been and will always will be “novel viruses.” It’s the way of the world. It is what viruses do. Every day aspiring viruses strive to make it big. Every now and then bingo! Pandemic.

As an admirer of the beauty of nature’s pathogens (an exotic veterinary clinical laboratory technician) I have to say, this is the perfect little virus. It renders its host asymptomatic and infectious for days, weeks … months? Children, I can’t think of a more exquisitely designed pathogen transmitting machine as they don’t seem to be affected yet are infectious. In fact, most will only be mildly symptomatic and thus will not be inclined to alter their behavior and stay home. Best of all, from the virus’ perspective, it is spread upon initial contact.

As soon as an infected person greets another they naturally touch and speak to each other. Though we don’t like to think about it, we must acknowledge that every time and always, when we speak, sing, cheer, laugh, pray or talk to ourselves, droplets leave our mouths and in no time at all, the organisms we harbor end up on our hands, on the hands of those around us and in the mouths of others. Germ theory 101.

This virus did what all good viruses dream of doing, it crossed over to a new and immunologically unprepared species. The day that happened, it threw itself a great big giant party and began replicating itself uncontrollably with one insatiable goal, ubiquity with eventual homeostasis.

Fortunately most of these over achieving, species jumping wonders of biology never make the headlines, let alone go noticed by anyone, save for a few scientists. Every so many years though, one does make the headlines and those of us that know about these sorts of things, cross our fingers until we can breath a sigh of relief that this one wasn’t “the big one”!

Well, my friends, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this beautiful bit of RNA that we’ve labeled as COVID-19 is “the big one” some of us have known was coming. It is here, it has been here for weeks if not months. Many more people are carrying it and passing it on than we know of or will know of since we are not testing.

Until there is a vaccine developed and widely distributed, this virus will do the only thing it knows how to do, replicate and disseminate. What we do now to contain and mitigate the spread of this virus is all that stands between thousands of deaths and millions of deaths. Possibly a billion deaths or more worldwide.

I pray our government is prepared and all humans prepare for what is yet to come.

Our new interloper does not care for whom you voted. It does not care to whom you pray. It does not care if you watch Fox or MSNBC. It does not care if you are gay or straight. It does not care when the president lies. It does not care if you live in the country or the city. What it does care about is weather or not it can get to you and continue along doing what it does.

Simple math tells us that, for example: U.S. population is 350 million. If only 10% (experts expect more like a 1/3 or more) get infected, that’s 35 million. If, as has been seen thus far, 3% die that’s 1.05 million. If the infection rate rises to 30% that number jumps to 3.15 million. Between 1 and 3 million Americans dead. Globally: 12 billion people at 10%; 30% that’s 36 million and 108 million respectively.

I know that this letter sounds alarmist, that is why I waited so long to write it, but please, if not for yourself then for your family, friends and really for all that are vulnerable we must take this seriously and recognize life is about to change — once again!

Eric Becht

Mifflintown

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