So here we are, practicing ’social distancing’ or perhaps sheltering in place to isolate ourselves from crowds. Those who have gone to stores are finding something unimaginable – bare shelves. This is a nightmare scenario: a pandemic of disease striking our homes.
Coronavirus has turned our world upside down. It raged through China then Europe, filling hospitals to the breaking point and destroying normal life. It spreads like wildfire on a California summer day and exploits any weakness it finds.
We have to take this disease seriously. Some experts think that there is some evidence that this strain of Coronavirus is a bio-weapon that was designed to spread fast and contaminate as many as possible, as quickly as possible.
Some people refuse to believe the pandemic is real. Those folks just need to look to history and learn what happened in 1918. The Spanish Flu was rampaging the world, but in both St Louis and in Philadelphia, there were not very many cases. Both cities had a major Bond Day parade scheduled. St. Louis canceled theirs. But Philadelphia, against medical advice, held a parade that was attended by 200,000 people. Within a few weeks, 45,000 Philadelphians had the flu. Their health care system was overwhelmed and 12,000 people died. But in St Louis, the infection and death rate was much less – about 700 people died there.
That shows that canceling big events heads off problems. And there’s no doubt, Coronavirus is coming. The government is trying to reduce the rate of infection, to spread the conflagration out over time. If they succeed, we will not all get sick at once and flood the hospital until the system breaks. Even so, whatever happens, the demand on the health care system will be intense, and our best hope is to spread that demand out over time.
One other thing I know. Our farmers are still out there working, gearing up to fill those empty shelves. They have a big job to do and nothing will keep them from doing it.
About the Author
Len Wilcox is a retired scientist who also ran a newspaper and has written for agricultural publications since the 1980s. He was a regular contributor to California Farmer Magazine. His commentary “The Western View” is a regular feature on Farm City Newsday and AgNet West.