Monday, May 18, 2020

Unable to Fathom What's On The Other Side of the Window

This is yet another essay on COVID 19. Sitting here at my computer writing this essay, for the most part I am not affected by what is going on outside the windows of my condo. I am enjoying my empty days filling with peace and quiet without obligations to anyone but myself. But I also carry a heavy heart for those not as fortunate as I. This is what prompted my writing.

In bed early last night, after yet another fairly empty day, afternoon, and night; I had room to think about our current life situation with COVID 19 and I was blown away by the statistics and their implications.

Today, I did a little COVID 19 research to see what the current figures might be since February 2020. 

The population of the world is +/- 8 billion. There +/- 5 million cases of COVID 19 worldwide with +/- 315 thousand deaths. 0.0039%

The population of the U.S. is +/- 328 million. There are +/- 1.5 million cases of COVID 19 nationwide with +/- 90 thousand deaths. .027%

The population of Illinois is +/- 13 million. There are +/- 95 thousand cases statewide with +/- 5 thousand deaths. 0.038%

The numbers boggle my mind. While the number of deaths, when compared to the populations, amounts to .038% of the population of people living in Illinois, my thinking went this way.

Where does one bury or cremate close to five thousand people in three and a half months?

How does one console four thousand families for their tragic losses, especially when you cannot attend the funeral and cannot offer a hug let alone a greeting handshake?

How many doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, businessmen, artists, business owners, etc have died?

How many grandparents, parents, children, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins have we lost and do families mourn?

Moving away for a while from just the deaths; how many jobs are dormant or ended with the close-downs, how many businesses have closed temporarily, and possibly forever at what loss financially to the owners let alone the economy?

How many conventions, concerts, plays, musicals, theme parks, shopping malls, movie theaters, shopping trips, and vacations are not happening, putting more people out of work and more venues in jeopardy? 

How many people are not able to pay their rent, other bills, medical costs, food bills, etc? How many people do not have a place for their family to self-isolate comfortably? How many people, before COVID 19 arrived were already ill, medically in need, financially in need, mentally ill, handicapped, homeless, hungry?

The latest statistics say that +/- 30 million people in the United States have filed for unemployment support.

With the protests against self-isolation, with people refusing social distancing, and refusing to wear masks; what further repercussions will happen when the virus picks up again and increases the speed of transmission and death in its wake? 

Some lessons learned are that we are almost totally dependent on each other not only at the family level but also the neighborhood, state, nation, and world levels. Food chains, manufacturing of goods, economies and more are all connected.

Another lesson we have learned in the United States is that a disproportionate number of blacks and Latinx and working-class poor have contracted the disease, have lost more jobs, and therefore are having a more difficult time with the aftershock and continuing shock of COVID 19.

As human beings, I believe that we are not able mentally and/or emotionally to think in large visual or sound bites and if able, often we choose to not. We live in our home, in our city, in our state, in our country but cannot comprehend the nature of the huge population of which we are part and how that affects us, our families, our social groups, our community, our world.

We can imagine what it is like to be stuck in a rush hour, creeping inch by inch on the highway home, but rarely are we able to think of the 6 million vehicles on the road in Illinois, 254 million vehicles on the road in the U.S., and 9.9 billion vehicles on the road worldwide.

This overwhelming example can be used with almost every statistic: meals consumed, gallons of milk purchased, dollars spent, McDonald's and Starbucks visited, people who catch a cold or the flu, motor vehicle accidents, movies watched, people murdered, people who die of old age, and on and on and on.

One way to visualize the toll of COVID 19 is to look think of school busses. Depending on specifications, those familiar yellow school buses we know are currently designed with a seating capacity with up to 90 passengers. Can you imagine the State of Illinois needing +/- 55 buses to transport those who have died from the virus, the U.S. taking +/- 1,000 busses to transport people, and in the world +/- 3,500 busses filled with people who have died from COVID 19!

Finally, yes if you compare daily deaths at the state, nation, and world levels to those from COVID 19, the latter pale by comparison but that does not make the impact of the virus any less. If anything the deaths from COVID 19 are worse because of the insidious nature of how the virus spreads, being passed invisibly by sick people as well as those showing no symptoms and the hideous, painful death that the virus brings to its victims!

Recently, AMAZON PRIME released a movie called "Samsara," which takes us to sacred grounds, natural wonders, disaster zones, cities, towns, and countrysides in the world, visiting 25 countries and taking five years to complete. I watched the documentary eyes not blinking and attention riveted to the screen for one hour and 42 minutes. The documentary gave me the ability to see the magnitude of life, the plight of fellow human beings, and made me realize how small I, one person, really am in the total picture of life!

This too shall pass. We shall overcome. But at what expense and who will we be and what will our world, local and worldwide, be like on the other side of COVID 19?


  1. Yes. Who will we be and what will our world be like? Well-said, my friend. Thank you for the visualizations to better picture the statistics. I am going to hold onto the idea that this experience will help all of us to move forward and not "back" to "normal."

    1. I agree, Jan. Forward to a pandemic-ready world.

  2. Thank you Jan. Writing this piece helped me to deal with gratitude for my comforts and sorrow for others not as fortunate.


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