The beginning of the new normal
I began focusing on the Coronavirus as I traveled to Houston on March 2 to teach an industry course. During my stay in Houston it became clear to me just how difficult, no impossible, it would be to keep myself healthy while conducting my daily life “as usual”. How effective could all those hand sanitzers strategically placed in the public spaces really be? Not much, I thought – as I regularly used them. I came back from Houston and flew to fly to St. Louis with my wife for a family event. Over that weekend and upon my return my learning curve increased but not to the point that I really understood what needed to be done by society as a whole to get through this pandemic. Other than a doctor friend who works at NIH I could not find reliable explanatory information. Based on his advice I began cancelling all my upcoming travel. I informed a friend that I would not be attending his son’s wedding in New Jersey. I worked on canceling the many out of town depositions I was scheduled to take over the next few weeks. Initially my efforts were met with skepticism. “It is no worse than the flu” was a familiar response. One lawyer objected to the cancellation of the deposition because there were no domestic travel restrictions. Others thought I was an alarmist. President Trump was saying that the virus was not that big of a deal and that it was “under control”.
Really? How could that be? Why were thousands being infected the world over? Why was Italy in a lock down? Why was Israel self quarantining thousands? It was not until I watched Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the Israeli public that I gained detailed relevant information regarding the virus, its behavior and risks and the public health strategy that must be implemented if we are to survive this pandemic. The virus infects in geometric progressions. The number of people infected will double every 6 days. The health care systems will be overwhelmed if the rate of infection is not slowed down. The only means of slowing down this virus, for which a vaccine does not presently exist, is by practicing personal hygiene and limiting social interaction. This requires a radical change in everyone’s personal habits and behavior. Even though large percentages of the population are likely to be infected, the rate of infection and infection curve must be flattened and the virus slowed so that hospitals are not overwhelmed. In a week’s time the situation in the United States has changed dramatically for the worse. The number of infected individuals is multiplying daily and the number of deaths is increasing. Testing is insufficient. States have begun to impose “radical” restrictions to daily life to try and contain the virus. And slowly we are all acknowledging and accepting the raw fact that we are all in uncharted territory.