Death tolls don’t capture the scale of the suffering.
April 10, 2020
I have claustrophobia, a trait I share with George Washington. The former president was so afraid of being buried alive, he insisted on lying in state at Mount Vernon for three days before being entombed. A sailing man, I’ve pictured myself tripping overboard unseen and sinking after a fruitless struggle. I am not at all like Melville’s shipwrecked seamen, resolutely facing the inevitable by swimming down to their watery graves.
Nobody wants to die, but I sure don’t want to die of Wuhan coronavirus. I don’t want to drown as fluid builds up in my lungs. I don’t want the air sacs in my lungs to turn to stone, leaving them unable to inflate and me, therefore, unable to breathe.
Looking only at the numbers, weighing various national death rates against “normal” rates and calculating whether the cost of mitigation is worth the benefit, it’s possible to miss this simple human reality: Covid-19 is a horrible disease. That’s true for those who survive it as well as for those it kills. Continue reading