Fear and Panic in Florida

 

My husband and I must be the only two seniors who embrace sanity over panic. We live in a 55+ community, where many people have pre-existing conditions or simply don’t take care of themselves. To deal with their anxiety regarding the COVID-19, they feel they have to do something. They’ve decided to shop. When we went to do our weekly shopping, you would have thought that a five-force hurricane was offshore bearing down on us. Shelves were cleared of bottled water, milk, and toilet paper. I’m not sure why they’ve gotten toilet paper, but I guess for those of us who are spoiled Westerners, toilet paper is a necessity.

We walked through the store, shaking our heads. I hope those people are feeling more at ease. I doubt it.

The fact is, the mystery and uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus are terrifying to people. They go to their worst-case scenario: we’re all going to die. Dead people will be lying in the streets, and those of us remaining will trip over their corpses. Those frightened people won’t tell you how they feel, but at a subconscious level I’m pretty sure that the fear and panic reaches those extreme levels.

So how are my husband and I experiencing the threat? Well, my husband was diagnosed with a bronchial-lung condition, bronchiectasis, 25 years ago. That means the cilia in his bronchial tubes, those little hairs that keep junk out of his lungs, have disappeared over time. His lungs are damaged and continue to get worse, as he coughs on a regular basis. Yes, he’s one of those seniors with an underlying medical condition. He’s been told that there’s no treatment, no cure, but he won’t die from it. He’ll die from something else. Right.

But we figure we’re homebodies and don’t go out much. Except we do go out to eat occasionally. We were going to a diner that we go to infrequently, then realized people might be worried by his coughing. So, okay, we went to the restaurant in our housing development, where many people will recognize him and know his condition. And then, too, nursing homes are becoming more and more restricted, so I may be barred from seeing my hospice patient soon. And I have two small groups who are scheduled to meet in my home in the next two weeks; I wonder if participants will be willing to come to at least one of them. The other group has only three of us; one said we can sit three feet apart; the other has a challenged immune system.

And then there is the flight planned to Baltimore; I’m going on my own, but I could unintentionally bring home whatever “guest” might hook up with me. We can wait several months to go on a mini-vacation to the Tampa Zoo and the Dali Museum, although we’d hoped to go in April. And the 12-day cruise beginning at the end of May, starting in Israel—who knows what will happen?

The world will not come to an end if all these plans fall through. There are people who are sick with the virus, and some have even died. My concerns are minor compared to theirs.

But we have a lot of uncertainty. Rather than denying those feelings, we are acknowledging them, facing them directly and trying to maintain an attitude of “not knowing,” of curiosity. We may coast through this time, illness-free. We may at some point decide to stay home and enjoy the many interests that we have here. We may feel sad about lost opportunities or pray for those who do become ill. We know that we will die one day; we just hope it is later rather than sooner. We will appreciate life, one day at a time, as best we can.

We’re just not the fear and panic type.

P.S. We received an email last night stating that nearly all the facilities in our development including the gyms will be closed indefinitely. They asked residents not to steal the hand sanitizer equipment and sanitary wipes.

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  1. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    James Gawron (View Comment):
    We’ve got one great advantage in Florida. Publix knows the drill from Hurricane season.

    I like Publix, too.  Right now, they are closing at 8 pm every night for cleaning and re-stocking.  When we went yesterday, the only really empty shelves were TP and water, getting sparse were frozen meats.

    I don’t know how it started exactly. My cousin lives in Washington state and she told me that everything is pretty much shut down – restaurants, churches, offices.  And people are asked to stay home as much as possible.  She said, “They haven’t made it illegal, yet” meaning not practicing social distancing. Yikes.

    Anyway, maybe people there thought –  if we can’t get out, what happens if we run out?  Of course then people other places heard that the WA stores are empty of TP and decide – well, there must be some reason, so I’d better get some.  

    • #31
  2. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    I’n still living off what I stashed for Y2K, that I can easily weather this Y#2.

    • #32
  3. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    I’m the oldest person in our office at 68, though only one is under 40.  As near as I can tell, no one is afraid or even anxious about CoVid-19.

    • #33
  4. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    I’m the oldest person in our office at 68, though only one is under 40. As near as I can tell, no one is afraid or even anxious about CoVid-19.

    Just like most anything else, you’ve got to set aside time for it. 

    • #34
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    I’m the oldest person in our office at 68, though only one is under 40. As near as I can tell, no one is afraid or even anxious about CoVid-19.

    Interesting, @randywebster. Are there any conclusions you’ve drawn from that fact? Maybe we can learn something from them!

    • #35
  6. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    I’m the oldest person in our office at 68, though only one is under 40. As near as I can tell, no one is afraid or even anxious about CoVid-19.

    Interesting, @randywebster. Are there any conclusions you’ve drawn from that fact? Maybe we can learn something from them!

    We are a construction company, and maybe construction workers take a more blase attitude toward danger because there’s so much of it in their everyday lives.  But even the women don’t seem to be bothered much.  Of course, we all have our own offices, and social distancing is easy.

    • #36
  7. She Member
    She
    @She

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Gotta keep everything moving!

    This seems to be inviting a remark about toilet paper, but I just can’t.

    I’m holed up here with Mr. She in SWPA, where Washington County (my county) declared the first infection in Western PA the day before yesterday.  Yesterday, Allegheny County (next county over and the one in which Pittsburgh is located) announced two cases which they are saying are travel-related.

    Have a few weeks in provisions squirreled away, so not worried too much.  Mr. She, like Mr. Susan, is in a rather high-risk group.  He hasn’t been out of the house (except to walk on the property) for a couple of weeks.  His daughter stopped by yesterday, but she’ll have her hands full for the next forseeable future, as schools are closed.

    Just trying to adapt/adjust day by day, and not do anything stupid.

     

    • #37
  8. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    As far as those empty shop shelves go, there’s this guy.

    What a jerk and good on Amazon and e-Bay for shutting him and his like down.  How he still thinks of himself as a “public servant” for profiteering is beyond me.  Instead of leaving products on the shelf for people to purchase, he drives 1300 miles buying everything in sight up and then jacks up the price for resell?  I hope he drowns in the stuff.  And by the way, those empty shelves he left help fuel the panic.

    Apologies, link didn’t stick.  Edited to put it back in.

    • #38
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    She (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Gotta keep everything moving!

    This seems to be inviting a remark about toilet paper, but I just can’t.

    I’m holed up here with Mr. She in SWPA, where Washington County (my county) declared the first infection in Western PA the day before yesterday. Yesterday, Allegheny County (next county over and the one in which Pittsburgh is located) announced two cases which they are saying are travel-related.

    Have a few weeks in provisions squirreled away, so not worried too much. Mr. She, like Mr. Susan, is in a rather high-risk group. He hasn’t been out of the house (except to walk on the property) for a couple of weeks. His daughter stopped by yesterday, but she’ll have her hands full for the next forseeable future, as schools are closed.

    Just trying to adapt/adjust day by day, and not do anything stupid.

    Thank you for holding back your comment on TP!!

    Mr. Susan was thinking that he’d make up for the gym closure by walking with me. (I’d do a second walk at a more leisurely pace than my morning walk.) Unfortunately I was out on the lanai today watering my orchids, and started sneezing uncontrollably. (He could hear me from inside the house.) Given how his allergies exacerbate his condition, I don’t think he’ll be walking with me any time soon. Hang in there!

     

    • #39
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Randy Webster (View Comment):
    We are a construction company, and maybe construction workers take a more blase attitude toward danger because there’s so much of it in their everyday lives. But even the women don’t seem to be bothered much. Of course, we all have our own offices, and social distancing is easy.

    Guys (I think) tend to take these things in stride better than women. And they can also set the tone in the office. I’ll bet that’s a factor!

    • #40
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Caryn (View Comment):

    As far as those empty shop shelves go, there’s this guy.

    What a jerk and good on Amazon and e-Bay for shutting him and his like down. How he still thinks of himself as a “public servant” for profiteering is beyond me. Instead of leaving products on the shelf for people to purchase, he drives 1300 miles buying everything in sight up and then jacks up the price for resell? I hope he drowns in the stuff. And by the way, those empty shelves he left help fuel the panic.

    Apologies, link didn’t stick. Edited to put it back in.

    Sick. Just plain sick. Thanks, @caryn.

    • #41
  12. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    I’m the oldest person in our office at 68, though only one is under 40. As near as I can tell, no one is afraid or even anxious about CoVid-19.

    Interesting, @randywebster. Are there any conclusions you’ve drawn from that fact? Maybe we can learn something from them!

    We are a construction company, and maybe construction workers take a more blase attitude toward danger because there’s so much of it in their everyday lives. But even the women don’t seem to be bothered much. Of course, we all have our own offices, and social distancing is easy.

    I can’t help but associate this panic with what I’ve always thought is an especially acute fear of death among modern people. It’s part of why I think Bernie’s expansion of the term fundamental human right is gaining traction.

    It seems this means a right to health to many. 

    • #42
  13. cirby Inactive
    cirby
    @cirby

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    I’m the oldest person in our office at 68, though only one is under 40. As near as I can tell, no one is afraid or even anxious about CoVid-19.

    One thing is that we keep hearing “it’s only old people who will really get sick.”

    Unfortunately, that’s not actually true – a higher proportion of 20s-to-50s males are getting some ICU time in, from the reports. Smokers, mainly, from the reports.

    Now, it is true that the older and less-healthy you are, the more likely it is that you could get hammered by COVID-19, so I’d stay home if I were in that category.

    I’m 61, so I’m edging into the risk pool, but I’m pretty healthy, even compared to most younger guys I know.

     

    • #43
  14. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    I’m the oldest person in our office at 68, though only one is under 40. As near as I can tell, no one is afraid or even anxious about CoVid-19.

    Interesting, @randywebster. Are there any conclusions you’ve drawn from that fact? Maybe we can learn something from them!

    We are a construction company, and maybe construction workers take a more blase attitude toward danger because there’s so much of it in their everyday lives. But even the women don’t seem to be bothered much. Of course, we all have our own offices, and social distancing is easy.

    I can’t help but associate this panic with what I’ve always thought is an especially acute fear of death among modern people. It’s part of why I think Bernie’s expansion of the term fundamental human right is gaining traction.

    It seems this means a right to health to many.

    I’ve often thought that our inordinate fear of death would destroy the country.

    • #44
  15. She Member
    She
    @She

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Gotta keep everything moving!

    This seems to be inviting a remark about toilet paper, but I just can’t.

    I’m holed up here with Mr. She in SWPA, where Washington County (my county) declared the first infection in Western PA the day before yesterday. Yesterday, Allegheny County (next county over and the one in which Pittsburgh is located) announced two cases which they are saying are travel-related.

    Have a few weeks in provisions squirreled away, so not worried too much. Mr. She, like Mr. Susan, is in a rather high-risk group. He hasn’t been out of the house (except to walk on the property) for a couple of weeks. His daughter stopped by yesterday, but she’ll have her hands full for the next forseeable future, as schools are closed.

    Just trying to adapt/adjust day by day, and not do anything stupid.

    Thank you for holding back your comment on TP!!

    Mr. Susan was thinking that he’d make up for the gym closure by walking with me. (I’d do a second walk at a more leisurely pace than my morning walk.) Unfortunately I was out on the lanai today watering my orchids, and started sneezing uncontrollably. (He could hear me from inside the house.) Given how his allergies exacerbate his condition, I don’t think he’ll be walking with me any time soon. Hang in there!

    Will do.  (I posted recently about my recent visit to Susan and Mr. and how very enjoyable it was).  Glad I got in there under the wire, given how things are going.

    I have two dear friends who have cancer; one of them is undergoing chemo as we speak, the second has just finished a course of radiation therapy.  Both of them participate in gyms and rehab programs, and both of them are revising their exercise plans back to “walking” in their neighborhoods.  I think that’s a good thing. Perhaps, long term, some good things will come out of this.  That’s my hope.

    • #45
  16. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: We’re just not the fear and panic type.

    It never fixes anything.

    Bene-Gesserit prayer from Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel Dune (my favorite book):

    “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

    A great science fiction novel, Stad. Maybe the greatest.

    Like I said, my absolute favorite.

    Funny how I found out about it.  A friend of mine bought the paperback, read a few pages, then gave it to me because he thought it had a slow beginning.  It does, but if you keep reading, it contains a fabulous mix of politics, religion, sex, violence, treachery, betrayal, emotion, and drama, all in a science fiction novel for crying out loud.

    The American movie version sucked, but the British made a miniseries that was true to the first three novels in the trilogy.

    • #46
  17. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    cirby (View Comment):
    One thing is that we keep hearing “it’s only old people who will really get sick.”

    No, old people are at higher risk of death.  Anyone can get it.  Whoever is saying that is wrong.  Feel free to box their ears . . .

    • #47
  18. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Randy Webster (View Comment):
    I’ve often thought that our inordinate fear of death would destroy the country.

    Risk aversion has certainly tried to bankrupt the country via the environmentalists.

    • #48
  19. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Stad (View Comment):
    The American movie version sucked, but the British made a miniseries that was true to the first three novels in the trilogy.

    I thought only The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy had more than 3 volumes in the trilogy.

    • #49
  20. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    I’d like to call attention to Claire Berlinski’s latest dispatch from Paris.

    France has now entered what the government calls “Stage 3”—a full-blown, accelerating coronavirus epidemic across French territory. Public officials have been warning in ever-more alarmed terms that this is gravely serious; the prime minister has been on television, hour after hour, to implore French citizens to refrain from embracing, stay at home if they can, and keep their distance from each other if they can’t.

    But to my surprise, many refuse to believe it, or if they do, refuse to behave as if they believed it. Many Parisians appear to believe a virus is like a terrorist attack, something to be couragiously defied by refusing in any way to give in to its demands. I’ve been appalled to see such uncontrollable carelessness. No matter how often they hear it, the public at large can’t bring itself to believe that a non-trivial number of us are now loaded weapons.

    I see clearly now that contagion and infection are not intuitive concepts. Humans have no instinctive understanding of viruses, a source of illness too small to see, hiding in the body of another human being. I see better why it took humanity so long to arrive at the germ theory of disease—and why Ignaz Semmelweis suffered a nervous breakdown.

    More than half of the patients in the ICU are under the age of sixty. Government ministers are beside themselves. “French people are not taking the situation seriously enough,” said the head of the national health agency, Jerome Salomon.

    Because people have refused to behave sensibly of their own volition, the prime minister yesterday ordered the closure of all schools, cafés, shopping malls, restaurants, libraries, gyms, nightclubs, conference rooms, and museums. “We have observed that the first measures we have taken have not been correctly applied.”

    All activity that is not “indispensable for the continuity of the life of the nation” has been ordered to a halt. “I trust that the French people can understand the seriousness of the situation,” said the prime minister. His trust is misplaced. The sun came out this morning, and so did every idiot in Paris. They were jogging in packs by the banks of the Seine, kiss-kiss-kissing on the streets, dawdling and gossiping in the épiceries, hawking up snot, touching their noses. Some say the virus is a hoax. . . .

    If your children are studying exponential growth in school, show them these live French infection-rate graphs to impress upon them that this is a practical and important concept. The bad students in France who didn’t pay attention during math class, you can explain to them, are all going to die. Unfortunately, they’re going to take more than a few good students with them—but that’s probably not an age-appropriate moral.

     

     

    • #50
  21. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Hat tip Andrew Bostom for this one:

    Case-Fatality Risk Estimates for COVID-19 Calculated by Using a Lag Time for Fatality

    Abstract

    We estimated the case-fatality risk for 2019 novel coronavirus disease cases in China (3.5%); China, excluding Hubei Province (0.8%); 82 countries, territories, and areas (4.2%); and on a cruise ship (0.6%). Lower estimates might be closest to the true value, but a broad range of 0.25%–3.0% probably should be considered. . . .

     

    Of our results, the least generalizable might be the result for China, which could be elevated because of undiagnosed mild cases, initial shortages of test kits, and elevated risk for death due to initial high demands on the healthcare system in Wuhan. The aCFR for the group of 82 countries, territories, and areas also might be affected by missed mild cases if some of the areas had undetected transmission. In terms of undiagnosed mild cases, the aCFR for the cruise ship population likely is the most accurate even though the 95% CI is broad. In addition, the aCFR for the cruise ship had a higher denominator due to inclusion of asymptomatic test-positive cases. Among 3,711 crew and passengers, 255 asymptomatic cases were identified; some of these persons subsequently might have developed symptoms. Thus, the aCFR for the cruise ship partially could reflect an infection-fatality risk. Also of note, 2,165 persons on the cruise ship were >60 years of age, and data from China indicates a much higher case-fatality risk among this age group; thus, a higher case-fatality risk might be expected in the cruise ship population than in other communities sampled. Considering these issues of generalizability, the aCFR of 0.9% for China, excluding Hubei Province, might be most accurate.

    Nevertheless, given the residual uncertainties, health sector decision-makers and disease modelers probably should consider a broad range of 0.25%–3.0% for COVID-19 case-fatality risk estimates. The higher values could be more appropriate in resource poor settings where the quality of hospital and intensive care might be constrained. Higher values might also be appropriate in high-income countries with limited surge capacity in hospital services because elevated case-fatality risks could be seen at the peak of local epidemics. Because COVID-19 is expected to further spread globally, ongoing work using country-specific cohorts will be needed to more robustly clarify the case-fatality risk of this new disease.

    • #51
  22. Mike Rapkoch Moderator
    Mike Rapkoch
    @MikeRapkoch

    I know I shouldn’t mock people who are fearful, but panic is result of a loss of perspective and reason, and has always been with us:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EtA0HrUrYM

    • #52
  23. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    France has now entered what the government calls “Stage 3”—a full-blown, accelerating coronavirus epidemic across French territory.

    I just ran the numbers and it is true:  Zero out of every 100,000 Frenchmen (79/69,000,000, rounded off to the nearest integer) have already died, and even more deaths are expected.

    The only question is why the government didn’t already shut down the private economy long ago, due to lightning and rabies.

    • #53
  24. cirby Inactive
    cirby
    @cirby

    Stad (View Comment):

    cirby (View Comment):
    One thing is that we keep hearing “it’s only old people who will really get sick.”

    No, old people are at higher risk of death. Anyone can get it. Whoever is saying that is wrong. Feel free to box their ears . . .

    I’m in the middle of a Disqus argument with a moron who’s going with “it’s not that dangerous, why are we closing everything down when we didn’t do the same for every other disease in previous years?” as his argument.

     

    • #54
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    Because COVID-19 is expected to further spread globally, ongoing work using country-specific cohorts will be needed to more robustly clarify the case-fatality risk of this new disease.

    Very helpful data, @ontheleftcoast. At least to explain the current situation. Thanks.

    • #55
  26. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    The WA Governor just shut down all bars, restaurants, schools, entertainment and recreational facilities, and any other place where over 50 people gather.  Grocery stores and pharmacies permitted to remain open. The Hillsdale National Leadership Seminar for April will probably be canceled. Darn!

    I work in a 700-employee, open-office factory.  I will be going to work tomorrow, as I always do, at 6:00AM.  Most everyone else in my department is working remotely, but I do not have a laptop computer so I can either go in to work, or take vacation.  I’m working.  I know my work is needed, and I am over 70 years old.  Old, but productive.  And very healthy.  I have my flu shot every year, and I cannot remember ever getting the flu, even before flu shots were common.

    Oh, and the reason people are buying up all the toilet paper? They fear being quarantined, and not being able to get out to buy more.  Every place I went all weekend was totally out of TP.

     

    • #56
  27. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    The WA Governor just shut down all bars, restaurants, schools, entertainment and recreational facilities, and any other place where over 50 people gather. Grocery stores and pharmacies permitted to remain open. The Hillsdale National Leadership Seminar for April will probably be canceled. Darn!

    I work in a 700-employee, open-office factory. I will be going to work tomorrow, as I always do, at 6:00AM. Most everyone else in my department is working remotely, but I do not have a laptop computer so I can either go in to work, or take vacation. I’m working. I know my work is needed, and I am over 70 years old. Old, but productive. And very healthy. I have my flu shot every year, and I cannot remember ever getting the flu, even before flu shots were common.

    Oh, and the reason people are buying up all the toilet paper? They fear being quarantined, and not being able to get out to buy more. Every place I went all weekend was totally out of TP.

     

    You’re a long way from Florida. In fact, where you’re at, it’s probably almost reasonable to take precautions. Even so, RushBabe49 has always struck me as belonging to the “Not to be Trifled With” category, and it wouldn’t surprise me if viruses are able to take notice and tread lightly. 

    Even so, be safe; For our sake!

    • #57
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    The newspaper confirms that nursing homes are not to be visited, including assisted living facilities. I will miss my patient/friend.

    Edit: I just received confirmation from my hospice supervisor: no visits for foreseeable future.

    • #58
  29. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    I’m the oldest person in our office at 68, though only one is under 40. As near as I can tell, no one is afraid or even anxious about CoVid-19.

    But do they keep asking how you’re feeling?

    • #59
  30. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):
    We are a construction company, and maybe construction workers take a more blase attitude toward danger because there’s so much of it in their everyday lives. But even the women don’t seem to be bothered much. Of course, we all have our own offices, and social distancing is easy.

    Guys (I think) tend to take these things in stride better than women. And they can also set the tone in the office. I’ll bet that’s a factor!

    It’s like small children.  Little girls make mud pies, little boys eat them . . .

    • #60
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