Sometime in the last week, the US appears to have slid into the twilight zone. It is apparently just fine to shut the country down over something that so far doesn’t seem worse than the annual flu issues, at least in terms of the death toll, even if it does seem to be rather more infectious, with the longish incubation period.
Of course, that incubation period means that pretty much all the efforts to contain the spread are a rather fancy way of shutting the gate after the horse has bolted. These days, by the time someone’s figured out that they had contact with someone who later showed symptoms they’ve already been in contact – or at the very minimum in a hermetically sealed air-conditioned building – with any number of people.
And of course, we don’t have the information on how many of the people exposed to the thing will actually show symptoms. What I’ve read so far suggests that if the shortness of breath aspect doesn’t manifest, it’s pretty difficult to distinguish between the virus and a normal cold.
I should probably add that in my case if/when I catch the thing, I’m not likely to notice more than a normal cold because my allergy issues mean that any cold causes coughing thanks to my sinuses going into overdrive, and when my sinuses are clogged, of course I’m going to have breathing issues. I already know how to deal with that, since for me, hyperactive sinuses and breathing issues is “normal spring allergies”.
What’s got me bemused is the weird atmosphere. Everything feels off, as though the whole planet took the wrong leg of the Trousers of Time. Since the Trousers have an infinite number of legs, this is something that can repair itself – but it can also get very messy, and in the meantime there are a whole lot of very confused people whose minds are in one leg and whose bodies are in a different leg.
That sense of the familiar tilted sideways making it unfamiliar and wrong is something that we can use. As authors being able to capture the atmosphere when everything has gone awry gives our work a bigger impact. As people living in it, being aware that this kind of atmosphere is immensely tempting to the unscrupulous helps to improve our chances of not being caught up in someone’s get-rich scheme. Or worse.
Given a choice, I think I’d rather be a pampered housecat.