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June 26, 2020

To Stay Alive, Think Like a Virus.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this pandemic is not over.

You may have been led to believe otherwise with the opening of restaurants, massive protests in the streets, people without masks, and the advent of Trump rallies. Yet, the Covid-19 virus does not listen, care about, or obey our wishes.

It thinks like a virus, and—to stay alive or avoid another massive shutdown—we need to do the same.

As of June 13th, 23 states had their number of coronavirus cases actually increase in the last two weeks—including California, Texas, and Florida. That means more than half the population of the U.S. will likely face another massive quarantine unless something unexpected changes soon. Previously, author Tomas Pueyo warned of this possibility in his Medium posted article, “The Hammer and the Dance.

So, where are we now, and what can we do about it? Well, depending on where you live, we’ve been “dancing” for a couple of weeks or a month. Not enough people are social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks, or avoiding crowds—so the virus is on the rise. Soon, predictably, we will face the “hammer” of greater restrictions—or face greater death tolls. Our pretending, denying, or wishing the virus away will not suddenly convince this pandemic to, as Trump once said, “Magically disappear.”

I get that you’re tired of this virus. So am I. We all want to get back to our normal lives.

Yet, if we want to stay alive and healthy, I suggest we begin to think like the virus.

So, how does a virus “think?” First of all, it does not care about us being tired of it. It does not know we’ve paid our dues by previously obeying quarantine. It does not give us a “pass” because we protested George Floyd’s killing, nor does it avoid us because we went to a Trump rally. A virus such as COVID-19 just wants to replicate, and it will look for any opportunity to do so.

To a virus, a protest is not a righteous display of collective will in the face of horrendous inequality. Instead, it’s an opportunity to reach and possibly decimate more people. To a virus, a Trump rally or a person without a mask in a store is not a political statement, but simply a chance to decimate more people. Our being caught up in our beliefs, politics, and preferences is the gunpowder that makes this virus explode.

We need to adapt or have a lot more people die. The United States already has by far the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world. Why has the richest country on Earth handled this virus most poorly? Sure, Trump has not helped the situation, but there are cultural reasons as well. We’re Americans; we’re used to getting our way!

Many Americans think if we want to grocery shop without a mask, by golly it’s our God-given and constitutional right to do so. If we want to protest or go to a rally, no one can tell us otherwise. But the virus doesn’t care if we’re American—or what we believe. If it had a consciousness, it might even relish that fact because it just makes us easier to infect.

As the number of coronavirus cases rises, we will need to face some hard truths.

Are we more committed to our comfort and our ideas of what we “should” be allowed to do, or are we more committed to saving people’s lives? I’m not saying I know the answer, or that there is a right or wrong answer. Yet, it seems like there should be a deliberateness to how we want to proceed.

Denial is not an effective strategy.

Our recent history indicates that U.S. society will likely do its best to avoid a discussion on how to handle this ongoing crisis most responsibly. Yet, on a personal level, each of us gets to decide how we want to proceed.

Each time you leave your house, you are deciding how important your work, your protest, or your comfort is in relationship to the possibility of getting sick.

The guidelines for not getting sick are pretty clear: regular hand washing, wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowds or indoor environments other than your house. For those in high-risk populations, the restrictions become even more pronounced. Since we are social creatures, it’s easy to let up on these guidelines when we see so many other people break them on a regular basis.

However, when other people are not following such guidelines the need for us to follow such restrictions becomes even greater. As people in our communities break the guidelines, the virus has the opportunity to “party.”

To stay healthy, think like a virus—not like a human.

As a virus, you’d look for crowds of people, preferably indoors. You’d look for people who are tired of staying home. You’d see opportunity in churches, grocery stores, offices, protests or rallies. If you “look” at the world the way a virus does, you’ll avoid such situations and people.

The people who stay healthiest in a pandemic are those who can step outside of their own beliefs and preferences and avoid a virus without morals. I hope you’re one of them. I say that because, in this new pandemic world we live in, there are no walls we can build to keep us safe from our neighbors.

We will have to let go of some of our ideas and preferences, or get hammered time and time again until we do.

Get the book, “The Coronavirus Pandemic Survival Guide,” free.

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