Coronavirus and the Immunocompromised
It is hard to know where to start with this crazy pandemic that we are all facing. Every life is being affected, whether people are at severe risk of infection or not. My son’s track meet was canceled. All of my kids will not participate in a big youth competition for Bible related events. My daughter was heartbroken. More trivially, I’m kind of big sports fan: No March Madness, NBA, MLB. Hey, I was even enjoying the XFL, and like everything else, their season has been canceled.
It has been interesting to listen to different reactions. Some think it is pretty much a hoax (it is not). Others have become afraid to go out anywhere. Some have been interrogated because they returned from a zone where there had been an outbreak. A lot of selfish hoarding of supplies and overreactions is happening everywhere. There is also just a lot of speculation and bad information out there.
I’ve heard some people downplay the virus because it doesn’t kill a lot of people (percentage wise) and many more die from the flu. Just because people are dying from the flu, doesn’t mean that more people have to unnecessarily die from Coronavirus! Some of the projections from the CDC are downright scary if significant preventive measures are not taken to curtail the spread of the virus. This is from a New York Times article:
Between 160 million and 214 million people in the U.S. could be infected over the course of the epidemic, according to one projection. That could last months or even over a year, with infections concentrated in shorter periods, staggered across time in different communities, experts said. As many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die.
1.7 million people dead in American alone. By comparison, the CDC, estimates about 22,000 deaths so far this flu season. The estimate is a worse-case scenario if no preventative measures are taken. So, while you might think it is ridiculous that your kid’s event got canceled, it might actually have saved lives. Furthermore, when people act like it is no big deal that the elderly and immunocompromised may die, as long as the healthy live, they commit both ageism and ableism.
Every life matters and every life preserved is worth it. Let’s make sure our words are not calloused toward those who are most vulnerable to the mortal danger of this virus. I know many of my readers are immunocompromised, because of the disease itself and/or the drugs they take to treat the disease.
Not all immunocompromised people are at the same risk. And a lot of conditions and medications remain unknown regarding the interaction with the COVID-19 virus. Here’s an article that I thought was helpful in overviewing the issues. Here’s another article that discusses the issue of biologics and COVID-19.
Going back to the NYT article (link above), one of the concerns is that those infected could overwhelm the healthcare system. The best thing we can do for ourselves and for everyone else is to listen to the authorities and take preventative measures to limit the spread of the disease. You may keep someone from getting Coronavirus, and you may keep someone from getting flu. That wouldn’t be a bad thing either!
For those of us who have concerns about the vitality of our immune system, I always discourage fear, because fear is not pleasing to God, and it brings about irrational and selfish behavior. But I do encourage prudence and emphatic concern for others. This is what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Take care of yourself. Take care of others. As my Granny has always reminded me, “This too shall pass.”
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