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Updated: Mar 20, 2020

I was going to start trickling in general daddy blogs, with the theme of raising a child in a strange, faraway land. Then the coronavirus struck and now it feels a bit odd if I venture too far off that topic. So how about trickling in daddy blogs about raising a child in a faraway land during the plague?

I’ll admit, I wasn’t that worried about the virus at first. It was in distant China and they seemed to be doing quick quarantine measures. They built that hospital in a few days and seemed like they were reacting much better than during SARS-1. Panic was already building up on social media though, with people asking why China was moving so quickly. But hadn’t it simply been because they had learned their lesson?

Then more and more people around Tbilisi were wearing masks.

This was strange to me. Clearly a sign of panic. Many Georgians love any excuse to don those cheap, paper masks, which according to many don’t actually do anything (unless of course, somebody’s limb just got lobbed off, blood is spraying everywhere, and you want to do something to keep it from flying into your mouth – sick people need them more, so that their sneezes and coughs don’t spray everywhere). During winter, you can visibly see how easily the water vapor passes through… the same goes with respiratory droplets – except big fat ones that might fly in if somebody directly sneezes in your direction, and how often does that really happen?

Anyways, people had started wearing masks.

And there weren't any sick people in Georgia yet. Not one.

People were already in a panic. Was it the media? I don’t know. I don’t watch TV. I read news on the Internet, which means I filter a lot. I tend not to click on clickbait articles by habit. But panic must come from somewhere, so I did start keeping my eye on the news about the novel coronavirus – mostly from WHO updates – but it still didn’t seem something to panic about. It only was really serious with old and obese people and smokers, right? With everyone else, it seemed to be about as serious as the flu, with some outliers here and there.

But then it was proving to be more and more infectious, hitting country after country. Soon Georgia started tallying some numbers. People were flying back from China and Italy, bringing their unwelcome friend with them. But the government was quick to handle them, quarantining people, closing the borders, taking all measures that they could in reason do so early (and indeed, even today Georgia has one of the lowest rates of infection globally). But there were reports of Georgians taking medicines to lower their temperature so they could pass through the border controls, Georgians running out on self-quarantines, even one story (possibly fake) of Georgians overpowering a quarantine bus, crashing it, and running off into the wild.

For some time, Georgia had only “imported” cases, and cases connected to those known imports. But now cases are creeping in, proof of community spread, most likely from those people I just mentioned, the ones that cheated the checks, fell off the radar, and started infecting everyone they came around.

As the tally built, it became less about the healthy people. 1% of 100 might be one person, but one percent of 1,000… of 100,000… of 1,000,000? Now we’re starting to talk about a lot of people who don’t really need to die at the moment.

Sadly, there’s no way we can even save them all. As long as there’s no vaccine, the tactic is to spread the curve. Because the virus is so infectious and it spreads so fast, it’s prone to overload hospitals. That means a few things happen:

  1. Not enough respirators for everyone

  2. Not enough beds for everyone

  3. People who are sick but with minor symptoms get released – and spread the virus

  4. People who are not yet recovered, but recovered enough, get released – and might spread the virus

  5. Doctors, nurses, and staff are all on overtime and with everyone buying up all the good masks (that you can’t get in Tbilisi anyway), they don’t have access to adequate protection either, so they get sick

All these mean that the rate of death goes from 1-3% to onwards up to 50% among some populations even (just look at Italy… if that doesn’t make you the least bit frightened or sad, you’re a sociopath). The idea behind spreading the curve isn’t to really contain the virus, but to slow it down so the health care system can handle it, the people who need care can get it, those who can survive will survive, the people who are sick don’t spread it further, and most of all, our healthcare workers aren’t worked to death and can still manage to put in the hours.

(By the way, if you want to keep track of the numbers, here is a good site).

And again, maybe it’s not about you. Maybe you’re healthy. I’m healthy, my wife is healthy, my son is 5 months old and healthy (and the virus doesn’t really seem to effect babies anyway). Of course, I am a little worried about my son, but that’s not my real concern.

My parents are old. My wife’s parents are old. Their parents are old. Now, my parents aren’t coming to Georgia (more on that in the next blog). But what about my wife’s parents? Is it safe to visit them? How do I know my allergies aren’t really the virus, and that if we visited, it could be their death sentence, or the death sentence of their parents? That’s what we have to think about.

Sure, social isolation sucks. And maybe for ourselves it seems unnecessary, because I’m not saving myself. But for others what may seem unnecessary has become necessary. The bell doesn’t toll for thee today, my friends. The bell tolls for your parents, for your grandparents, and for all your smoker friends.

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