I believe that we are put on this earth to learn and to grow. I have a number of lessons to learn. But without a disappointing list of these deficiencies, there is one that many of us share.
I struggle with patience, almost daily. I have made progress, but my friends and family will tell you that I have a lot of work to do…sigh.
It is clear from the recent surge of cases in the COVID 19 pandemic, that our nation collectively also has a patience problem.
Let’s start with the illogical reopening plan. We knew from the pandemic in Florida, that unlike many flu viruses, heat does not kill this virus. So, we knew that the summer temperatures would provide no respite. We also knew that despite the highly contagious nature of this virus, we were not going to develop a herd immunity. Experts estimate that a herd immunity requires anywhere from 60-95% of the population to have had the virus. In the US we have no more than 1% of the population. Even Sweden, which opted for a herd immunity strategy, “gave up” and only reached around 8%.
So we knew that there was nothing, except fewer cases, and conscientious behavior, that was going to stop the spread of the virus…but we opened up anyway. Why did we reopen? Because of the devastating impact of this virus on the economy and, frankly, we were impatient.
With the exception of natural disasters, we have been able to control or contain many aspects of our environment. Controlling the environment appears to be a very human thing. Our earliest ancestors used prayer and supplications; animal and human sacrifices; dances and ceremonies in an attempt to control the environment. In our modern society we rely on science and medicine. But this pandemic moved too quickly, and we started too late.
But not all the news is bad. Scientists and doctors have been working tirelessly to solve this problem.
They have discovered several medicines (two of them old) that collectively have reduced the death rate by one third. Trials with a cancer drug to reduce the impact of cytokine storms (if you recall that is when the immune system floods the body with immune cells that attack the body) are promising. To date, scientists have discovered that the expected mutations of the virus have not resulted in more deadly versions (as happened in the 1917-1918 flu epidemic).
In the meantime, we as a nation must exercise our collective patience. We must continue to wear those annoying masks, we must suffer from dry hands from over washing and sterilizing, we must keep social distances. In short, we must continue to do what we have done since the pandemic began. And we must continue to do this until science comes to the rescue with a vaccine.
There is that damn patience problem again.
Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.