COVID-19 Explosion, New Zealand
(Photo by Tarik Kizilkaya / iStock)

This is Part 10 in our “Front Lines” series with Dr. Will Dabbs. Before reading on about the recent COVID-19 explosion, be sure to check out the other parts in the series.

What a wild four months it has been. We went from shock and awe to cowering at home to watching our cities burn. Along the way our attitudes toward SARS-CoV-2 have evolved considerably. We have now convinced ourselves that this virus really isn’t that big a deal. However, I’m not so certain COVID got that memo.

Rampant Hypocrisy

Everybody reviles the hypocrite. Hypocrisy is defined as “the contrivance of a false appearance of virtue or goodness, while concealing real character traits or inclinations.” Here’s how you would use the term in a sentence, “Political figures who want to arrest people for cutting hair but applaud those who throng together and burn down their neighborhoods are jaundiced hypocrites.”

Nowadays it’s all about how to get your favorite old white guy into the White House for the next four years. If George Washington were alive today he’d likely be trying to sneak across the Rio Grande and enter Mexico illegally.

Controlled Clinical Trials

Throughout this grand adventure Avi Schiffman’s magnificent COVID tracker just keeps churning away. His site averages 30 million visitors a day. The kid turned down $8 million to put ads on it. What was he thinking? I’d have monetized that rascal and been chilling on my own COVID-free island by now. No matter. With such mad computer skills I doubt he’ll go hungry.

As of writing this Avi’s site reports a total of 453,000 KIA worldwide. Of those some 120,000, nearly one in four, were Americans. By contrast, New Zealand accounts for 22.

Yeah, New Zealand! Go Kiwis! That’s truly wonderful, but what does that really mean?

The Case of New Zealand

New Zealand, as you’ll no doubt recall from your seventh-grade geography class (special shout out to Mrs. Cox—hopefully no lingering hard feelings about that thing with the glue), is a big honking island. New Zealanders jumped on Coronavirus like Antifa protesters on a Nathan Bedford Forrest statue. In fairly short order they had legit stamped the thing out. That’s great, but now what?

Are they going to remain comfortably ensconced and alone on their splendid little island until the sun burns out? At some point folks are going to want to travel there again. After all, it’s where they filmed The Lord of the Rings. Seems to me at some point COVID will have its day in New Zealand just like it has everywhere else.

This is going to be such an interesting thing to study in retrospect. New Zealand sealed their borders tighter than a monkey grabs a grapefruit. China went full Nazi on 1.4 billion Chinese to hold it at bay. Meanwhile, over here in America, Lady Liberty just hiked up her knickers and mooned the thing. It’ll indeed be fascinating to see how it all plays out.

The COVID-19 Explosion

In my little Southern town we all climbed out of our holes about three weeks ago. In the past seven days our COVID cases have absolutely exploded. It’s worse now than it has ever been. There seems to be about a three-week lag between what we do as a society and what comes limping into the clinic.

Ours is a college town, so for us it is college students. One young lady got together with nine like-minded friends to binge-watch a little Netflix. They just sat around for four hours doing what college students do. The following day somebody felt a bit queasy and tested positive for COVID.

The woman I saw was the fifth thus far. Half of the 10 kids who spent four hours together watching TV now have this disease. The rest are still pending. The flu doesn’t typically behave like that. Make no mistake, SARS-CoV-2 is still a most rapacious monster whether we choose to believe it or not.

The Theory of Relativity

COVID remains a ravenous cold-hearted killer. There was the 18-year-old high school senior who lost both his parents in their 40s over the span of 72 hours. The elderly grandfather with a past medical history as long as my arm wasn’t a surprise, but the 41-year-old who succumbed in four days certainly was. However, those were either far away or folks I did not know well. Then you get the text.

This is someone you care deeply about. It’s not some poor slob in China, Italy, or even New York. This is somebody terribly close who fights alongside you in this ongoing war. They got it at home, not work. At work you wear armor. At home you take it off. That’s where SARS-CoV-2 slithered into this world.

Fever of 103, intermittent diarrhea, and labs that were all over the place. For a healthy person these numbers make no sense at all. There’s extreme fatigue, but thankfully not a lot of respiratory stuff. This blasted disease is nothing if not unpredictable. You try to be encouraging and supportive, but all along those horrible numbers keep bouncing around your braincase. Avi’s COVID tracker provides the ghastly backdrop.

The Internist managing the case used everything in the tool chest including hydroxychloroquine. As an aside, untold thousands of folks take that stuff for things like malaria and lupus and do just fine. The media and, honestly, many mainstream scientific venues are biased against that particular drug just because the president endorsed it. Did I mention that as the guy on the front I’m growing terribly weary of political agendas shaping the way we fight COVID-19?

Final Thoughts

Anyway, I hold my breath for a few days, and everything turns out fine. SARS-CoV-2 has not destroyed my little world, at least not yet. However, that newly orphaned high school senior likely feels pretty lost today.

We Americans never have done well with being told what to do. I cite Minneapolis, the Boston Tea Party, and the AR-15 rifle as examples. However, I prognosticate that this thing is about to absolutely have its way with us. Go to work, love people, and live your lives, but be careful. It’s still a jungle out there.

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