by michele sprague

w r i t e  s t y l i n g s

the deadly virus is not science fiction

After spending the night tossing and turning, I awoke and saw the American flag hanging limp, wet and clinging to the flag post. It was as if she was crying. Head hung low. Drenched from the night’s storm. Drenched from America’s tears.

The American flag, an emotional and powerful symbol of our nation’s unity, displays freedom, pride and hope for the all the citizens of the United States. Our flag also symbolizes the resilience of Americans. We bounced back from The Great Depression, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the 9/11 attacks…She also knows the pain our country – even people around the world – endure because of the rapid, vicious spreading coronavirus, which leaves behind a path of illness, deaths, heartbreak and broken economies.

According to Worldmeter, as of April 22, the highly contagious coronavirus, known as COVID-19, infected over 830,000 Americans and caused over 46,000 deaths. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, predicts that 100,000 to 200,000 Americans may die from the coronavirus disease by the end of summer.

Almost constantly, the media updates us about the latest coronavirus statistics in the United States and around the world. The statistics in this essay are from the April 22, 2020 reports. But the numbers continue to increase – even as I wrote this piece.

The virus claims the lives of more than 183,000 people worldwide as bodies pile up in makeshift morgues and cries are heard across 210 countries.

Italy reports over 187,000 coronavirus cases, which includes over 25,000 deaths. Spain reports over 208,000 coronavirus cases; of those over 21,000 deaths.

One of our states – New York – has the largest number – over 257,000 – of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States. That includes over 142,000 cases from New York City. New York’s death toll is over 15,000, which includes over 10,000 for New York City.

There hasn’t been anything like this since the Spanish flu, which caused a global pandemic in 1918 that infected a third of the world’s population and killed 20-50 million people; 675,000 were Americans.

Now, governors across the United States and world leaders struggle to find supplies and equipment for those fighting on the front line – doctors, nurses and medical staff. Medical supplies, protective masks and clothing, ventilators and testing kits for this respiratory disease are in dire need. The medical staff work long hours, are physically and mentally exhausted, and frustrated because many of them don’t have the personal protective equipment and ventilators they need. In the meantime, COVID-19 attacks some of them, causing more casualities.

A hospital nurse interviewed on the American news-based television channel, CNN, said she never worked so hard, fears she will get the virus and worries about what will happen to her children if the virus claims her life.

In an effort to control the spread of the virus, some states and countries order their people to stay-at-home except for necessary trips to grocery stores, pharmacists and doctor offices.

Our country is in a lockdown. Schools, colleges and universities; sporting events; theaters; hair and nail salons; restaurants and bars…are shut down, which causes another problem – rampant unemployment. According to The Washington Post, more than 22 million Americans are unemployed since President Trump declared our country a national emergency.

In the meantime, people – the lucky ones – arm themselves with antibacterial gel, and wear face masks and protective gloves, when making trips to the grocery stores, depleting shelves of groceries, supplies and toilet paper. Other hungry Americans, who are in need, wait in long lines that wind around city blocks or in miles long traffic to collect groceries from food banks and food pantries.

People want their lives back – going to work, school…playing soccer. Even the annoying traffic jams of the past would be welcome compared to the empty, ghost-town streets and buildings today.

 Some people live alone, reach out through their telephones or computer for contact with people. My granddaughter is sad because the year-end camping trip celebrating the transition from elementary to junior high has been cancelled.

What about high school graduations, the house you planned to purchase, the family’s summer vacation, weddings in May…And what about the annual trip to the local nursery to buy plants for your garden?

People would even look forward to getting bills in the mail – if they had their lives back. A job, a paycheck and freedom to live their lives without fear of getting or spreading the virus.

For now, there is no cure for coronavirus. Our weapons to fight this deadly virus – actually to control the spread – are to practice social distancing, which means being no closer than six feet from each other and thoroughly washing our hands throughout the day. It also means you can’t visit your loved ones who are hospitalized, in nursing or rehab facilities…or people who don’t live with you.

Life in the United States has changed. Other than a man walking his golden retriever dog, there are almost no signs of human life outside my condo window. No sounds of laughter and voices of children playing. But there are people standing and looking outside their windows, and people standing on their porches My neighbor’s window is decorated with a picture of a rainbow and hearts, done by her child. And my niece scurries across the street to leave a bag of groceries on the porch for an older woman, who lives alone.

Last night there was another thunderstorm. The rain beat on the roof, the wind howled and blew tree branches with so much force that they nearly snapped. By noon the next day, the American flag was dry and danced in the breeze, oblivious to the fact that its ends were tattered from being beaten by the storms.

The flag still flies with dignity and symbolizes our nation’s unity, freedom, pride and resilience. We are Americans. We are the United States. Together we will conquer this nasty, deadly virus.

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​april 22, 2020

michele sprague