It’s like watching a horror movie. A deadly plague reaches our shores. The president declares a national emergency. Groceries and household items, like toilet paper and bottled water, disappear off the supermarket shelves. The stock market plunges, over and over again, businesses shut down. People are told to prepare for the worst. The future is uncertain. The whole world seems to have turned upside down. I’m no prophet, nor do I claim to have anything other than natural insight. This is, however, an opinion blog, and so I’ll share with you my opinions about the current situation, how we got here, what we can do now, and how we can learn from it. I hope you find it both sobering and helpful.
The plague of our time is officially called COVID-19, and is unofficially known as “The Coronavirus,” “The Wuhan Virus” and the “Wuhan Flu” or just #WuFlu on Twitter. (It’s technically not a influenza virus, but that’s irrelevant. Scientist care about viral classifications, but the general public doesn’t.) I will just call it by the most agreed layman nomenclature: “Wuhan Virus.” There is some question about the origin of this monster bug. I personally believe it’s a biological weapon, created by the Chinese Communist government, that accidentally got away from the Wuhan biological weapons laboratory, and somehow found it’s way to a fish market just 300 yards away (read more on that here). I want to make this crystal clear. I’m not saying the Chinese communists released this pathogen intentionally. I believe it was an accident. It literally got away from them. I’m saying this because, so far, China has been hit the hardest by the Wuhan Virus, and the Chinese people have suffered the most. I’m writing this as of March 17, 2020, as the pandemic is just getting started in the United States and we don’t know what the full impact of that will be yet. I am convinced this was an accident, both by the Chinese government’s initial response, attempted cover-up, followed by changing stories from the communist regime which is now attempting to blame the US for releasing a bio-weapon upon them (a tacit admission that it is indeed a bio-weapon). There are only three constants in the known universe: (1) the speed of light, (2) death & taxes, and (3) communists always lie. It’s the nature of their lies that tip me off that this was an unplanned event. Their lies keep changing. It’s like they’re playing catch-up and trying to get ahead of it, as if to say “what’s our story today?” If this were an intentionally planned event, they wouldn’t be trying so hard. The lies would simply have been scripted in advance, and the story would remain unchanged from the time of the initial outbreak in November, to the impending American calamity in March. Yes, communists lie, and Chinese communists are no different, but this time, in addition to lying about it, I think they’re just trying to cover up an accident. Though there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that suggests they did create the virus, even if (by chance) they didn’t, their constant lying about the virus to the world robbed nations of valuable time needed to prepare for its spread. No matter how you look at it, the Chi-Com government’s constant lying has put the entire world into a crisis.
In historical perspective, this could be compared to the Chinese version of the Chernobyl nuclear power-plant explosion and meltdown in 1986. Chernobyl marked the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union which collapsed in 1991, five years later. So the Wuhan Virus may very well mark the beginning of the end for the Chi-Com government. The world will never forgive the Chinese government for their negligence and deception on this. I suspect public verification may be getting closer that it is indeed a bio-weapon, which is why the Chi-Coms are now changing their story (yet again) to say that the US government must have created it, and somehow (mysteriously) planted it in Wuhan, China.
Once China was overrun, it quickly spread around the globe, mainly due to the policies of globalism, giving us open-boarders and free-flow migration. The irony of this plague is that it takes a global virus to kill globalism. Without the man-made barriers of totally sovereign nation-states, containment and control of killer viruses, like the Wuhan Virus, is impossible. Now it’s in America and we can’t stop it.
How it all came about is somewhat irrelevant at this point, but it is interesting to understand origins and consider their long-term ramifications. I admit I could be wrong about the origin of the Wuhan Virus, but I don’t think so. Whatever the case, the only questions now are “what can we expect?” and “how shall we deal with it?”
I’m going to tell you who you should really trust in all of this. Don’t trust the government or any government agency. They’re incompetent. Don’t trust the media. They’re dishonest and untrustworthy. Don’t trust mystics, faith healers, or psychics. They don’t know what they’re talking about. Other than trusting in God himself, there are only two groups of people we should be trusting right now. These are (1) good priest and bishops who act like they really believe the faith, and (2) real doctors, nurses and respiratory therapist who are working directly with the the Wuhan Virus pandemic. These two groups of people know what they’re talking about, each in their respective vocations, and should be heeded.
This is what we know so far. The virus overran (literally broke) the healthcare systems of China, Iran and Italy. The potential for it to do the same in the United States is high. This is why the Trump Administration has been handling the situation so aggressively. As I said above, the government is incompetent, but in spite of that we do have a good presidential leader who is showing a lot of forethought, trying to get ahead of the virus before it overwhelms us. If he is successful, it will only be because the private sector stepped up to the plate, and (like in World War II) unleashed the full industrial might of the United States to fight back. I wouldn’t be surprised if we need a little help from the US military too, just to keep the general public orderly and civilized. Sadly, most Americans (like other people around the world) live in a perpetual cycle of denial and panic. Rather than take in the truth about the world, understand it, and try to prepare for coming storms, the vast majority of Americans are content to live in a state of denial that anything bad could ever happen. Then when something bad does happen, they will still attempt to live in denial for as long as possible, until they can’t deny it anymore. Then like a light switch, they flip into panic mode and go hysterical. They raid the shelves at supermarkets, spend ridiculous amounts of cash on more items than they could ever need or afford. They fill their garages with this stuff, preparing for an apocalypse. They sell all their stocks and bonds if they have any. They cash out their retirement accounts, if they have one. Then they make runs on the banks, pulling out all their cash. Again, preparing for an apocalypse. Lastly, they buy guns and ammunition — lots of them — if they’re legally able. As if preparing for a civil war.
The human mind can only panic for a while before it must shut down and rest. For most people, it’s no more than a week. After panicking for that long, they must rest. This usually manifests itself as a day or two of depression, sleep, or “feeling under the weather.” After that, they usually slip back into denial mode for a while, before the next panic cycle. Denial periods are long, lasting weeks, to months, to years. Panic periods are short, lasting hours to days. And would it shock you if I said that most Americans live this way? It’s the “normal” state of humanity actually, sad as that sounds, and it’s been going on for as long as recorded history.
There is a lesson to be learned from this. Don’t follow the herd. When real disasters happen, and even when they don’t happen, you can usually expect the herd of humanity to run in the wrong direction, and do the exact wrong thing, most of the time. During times of denial, when people should be prudent and preparing for the “storms” of life, the herd goes into denial mode and laughs at those who are forward thinking. Or the herd just mocks them, and calls them “weird.” During times of panic, when people are clearing the shelves at supermarkets, and running the banks, they trample ordinary people who are not panicking and just trying to live their lives. The lesson to be learned here is you can rarely trust the herd of humanity to do the right thing. Whatever the herd is doing, we should think about doing something different.
Readers of this blog are exceptional people. When I say exceptional, I mean the exception to the norm. The typical reader is not the usual person who follows the herd and does whatever the herd does. I’ve been blogging since 2012 and still have just a small following by blogging standards. That’s okay. Most people consider my writings a little too pragmatic for them. They would prefer something that affirms either their regular denial or occasional panic. In fact, one of the reasons why I’ve never taken to video streaming my thoughts is because readers are the kind of people I want following them. They tend to be more intellectually open to thinking ahead, contemplating big ideas, and a bit more pragmatic than the herd. That’s good, and if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of those exceptional persons, meaning one willing to step outside of the herd, thinking and acting a little more independently. Having said that, I don’t want you to think I’m disparaging the herd of humanity. There’s a reason why people behave this way. — the denial/panic cycle. It’s a survival instinct, and to a certain degree, it does work, albeit at great cost and lots of unnecessary expense, but humanity has been using it for tens of thousands of years now, and the fact that we’re all still here is a testimony to its success. There is “safety in numbers” as the saying goes. My philosophy in life is that the herd is good, most of the time, but many times (in moments of real trouble) the herd does the wrong things, and the best thing to do is step outside of the herd for a short time. If humanity could be compared to a herd of sheep, as God himself describes us in the Bible, then I’m the type of sheep that likes to stay on the periphery of the herd, keeping a lookout for danger. I might be the one who occasionally sounds the alarm, but usually it’s others more observant then myself. Then, once the alarm is sounded, I assess the situation, trying to understand the nature of the danger, and the movement of the herd. The herd will remain in denial for as long as possible, which gives me time to assess and plan. Then once the herd begins to panic, I make a decision. Do I move with it, stay put, or go in a slightly different direction, always staying close to the herd, but not necessarily engaging in the same erratic behavior. I think this is the smart way to think, and so far, it’s served me well. I’ve been able to move my retirement funds out of the stock market before any major drops. I’ve been able to prepare a little differently for national disasters. I’ve avoided spending ridiculous amounts of money on things I don’t need (like a garage full of toilet paper for example). I think that’s a lesson that my readers might benefit from. Always stay close to the herd, but never too close. You want to move with the group, as there is safety in numbers, but you don’t want to get caught up in the denial/panic stampede that is common for those within the herd itself. In other words, be the exception to the norm. Be exceptional.
Alright, so what do we need to do to be exceptional people? First thing’s first, we have to take the Wuhan Virus or #WuFlu pandemic seriously. This is not a joke. This is not an over-reaction. Some of my readers know what I do for a living. Most of you don’t. I’m not going to reveal my exact vocation here, but I will tell you that I am a healthcare practitioner on the front-lines, and I do know what I’m talking about. This is not a conspiracy. This is not a plot of a government takeover. This is not just media hype. While politicians are hoping to capitalize on this in an election year, this is not a political ploy, false flag, or wag the dog. The bug is real, and the danger is great. Allow me to explain. While the average fatality (kill) rate of the Wuhan Virus is only 3.4%, that is still 34 times more deadly than the influenza virus. Also, that statistic is an average across the whole population. The actual statistic varies among age groups. Among children and teens, the fatality rate is nearly zero. It’s basically like a nasty cold to them. The older age groups (adults to middle age) don’t do as well. It’s basically like getting a nasty flu to them. Then you reach the elderly, wherein the fatality rate starts jumping up per decade to as high as 15%. That’s basically “death on a stick” to them. Assuming they get proper medical care, one in five of them will die anyway. This is assuming the healthcare system doesn’t buckle in the process. If it does buckle, becoming overwhelmed with too many cases, and the elderly can’t get the medical help they need, that fatality rate could easily go much, much higher…
Here’s the REAL danger in all of this. The Wuhan Virus has the ability to spread undetected for days to weeks by people before they develop their first symptom of a high fever. So the potential infection rate is astronomically high unless you break the social habits through which infection is most commonly spread. That’s why the government has enacted travel restrictions, quarantines, business closures, school closures, strict crowd control and business restrictions. It’s an attempt to forcefully modify social behavior patterns to slow the transmission of the virus, in a pattern called “flattening the curve” which is modeled after the St. Louis protocols during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918…
Here’s the real danger. If we don’t “flatten the curve” nationally right now, we will lose control of this virus very, very quickly. Once that happens, the healthcare system will buckle. I’m not saying it may buckle. I’m saying it WILL buckle, because we are already running at high capacity with influenza cases right now. So we don’t have a lot of flex. If the system buckles, we healthcare workers are going to have to make some very tough choices (that we don’t want to make) and start a triage system. Usually, triage is just used in times of war and natural disaster. If the American healthcare system buckles with too many cases of the Wuhan Virus we will have to make triage decision in everyday hospital and clinic work, choosing who gets treatment and who doesn’t, who lives and who dies. We medical practitioners really, really, really don’t want to go there, and I don’t think the public wants us to go there either. That’s why all this quarantining and social distancing is going on. It’s an attempt to avoid, or at least reduce, the amount of times this has to happen in the weeks and months ahead. If we can keep the number of the Wuhan Virus cases reduced in the weak and elderly population to an absolute minimal, that should be enough (hopefully) to prevent a real national disaster.
So that’s the seriousness of what’s happening right now. In a sense, the immediate crisis surrounding us (as of March 17, 2020) is man-made, both by government policies designed to modify social behaviors, and by people reading too much into it and freaking out (panicking) by clearing off the supermarket shelves and hording toilet paper, hand-sanitizer, groceries and other items. It’s as if they’re preparing for an ice storm, hurricane, nuclear war or something, where they think they’ll literally be trapped in their houses for weeks, with no ability to communicate with the outside world. Obviously, that is NOT really what’s happening here. The distribution system of food, toiletries and other household items is not breaking down. The farms and factories will continue to produce these things. The trucks will continue to roll on the highways to deliver them. The retailers will stay open and restock their shelves week after week, just as they always have. There is no need to horde. This is an example of the herd miscalculating and running the wrong way. It’s sort-of in the right direction, but not really. They missed an important turn and went off on a tangent. The right thing to do was get prepared, but the herd misunderstood what “prepared” means in this case. They interpreted “prepared” as if they were preparing for a hurricane, ice storm, super-volcano or nuclear war. The Wuhan Virus is none of these things. So, this is a good time to step away from the herd, and not be part of the stampede. Don’t get me wrong. There is a time to stampede, but this just isn’t one of those times. If there is a volcano erupting nearby, I advise you to get in with the herd and run like hell. If there’s a hurricane I advise you to either stock up or bug out. If there is a nuclear war coming, then it’s time to raid the supermarket shelves, horde as much as you can, then pray, pray and pray! But there is no volcano, no hurricane, and no nuclear war. This is a crisis, but it isn’t that kind of a crisis. The herd miscalculated. Now it’s stampeding in the wrong direction. It’s time to step away from the herd and re-think this.
What is proper preparedness in the Wuhan Virus crisis? For starters, you need to listen to our priests, bishops and healthcare workers, especially doctors! They know better than anyone as to what should be done. Next, you need to follow their recommendations. Social distancing is a really good idea right now, not just for your protection, but mainly for the protection of the weak and elderly. We’re trying to prevent our national Emergency Rooms from being flooded with geriatric Wuhan Virus patients. So for the sake of grandma and grandpa, practice social distancing. This virus has a political incorrect nickname. It’s called the “Boomer-Doomer” for a reason. It kills primarily people in the Baby-Boomer generation and older.
Another method of social distancing is personal-protective-equipment (PPE). This is what emergency and healthcare workers use. Even though the CDC has not officially condoned this for the public yet, I have a feeling that may change sometime in the future, as East Asian societies have learned from fighting respiratory infections year after year, while face masks are never 100% effective, they do help. If, at the very least, they help in the area of social distancing and personal hygiene. The face mask does two things. One, it provides a minimal protective barrier against droplets that could contain many different viruses, not just the Wuhan Virus. If you happen to walk through a cough spray or sneeze spray, it would be nice to have some kind of protective barrier over your mouth and nose. Even if that barrier is only 25% effective, that’s 25% you didn’t originally have. In East Asian societies, everybody wears a mask when there’s a respiratory epidemic going around. That means all the healthy people are masked, but then, so are all the sick people, even if the sick people don’t know they’re sick yet. So if a sick person coughs or sneezes into his/her own mask, while everyone else is masked, that 25% effective barrier system just turned into a 50% effective barrier system. The virus had to travel through (or around) two barriers in order to infect another person. This is a method of social distancing when people are standing right next to each other. Masks do another thing too. They make you think about touching your face. They prevent you from doing it easily. They make you think twice, and remind you, when you’ve got the urge to rub your nose, or put your hand near your lips. In this sense, they help with personal hygiene. So I really do think the CDC’s policy on this is going to change eventually, but even if I’m wrong, it can’t hurt to think a little more East Asian about this. These people have been dealing with this kind of stuff for decades. They’re not stupid either. If they’ve decided that masks have some benefit, then wearing one is probably not a bad idea. It couldn’t hurt, and it might help. Will you get some stares and snickers from that portion of the herd in denial mode? Yes. But that’s part of the price you must pay to step outside of the herd when appropriate.
Personally, I’m telling my family to wear a mask, wrap-around sunglasses, and cotton gloves when in public. Why? Because it provides three protective barriers that could potentially stop a virus from transmission. Even if only 25% effective, that’s 25% we didn’t have without them. That’s not the best of odds, but it’s not the worst of odds either, and I’ll take whatever I can get over 0% protection. Besides, you would be surprised how much wearing cotton gloves reminds you to wash your hands immediately after taking them off. They’re highly effective at changing personal hygiene patterns. We healthcare practitioners wear this stuff in the hospitals all the time. The materials are different because they’re disposable and we deal with a lot of bodily fluids, but the CDC isn’t advising us to stop wearing them. In fact, they’re saying the opposite. They’re insisting that we healthcare practitioners wear them. So, in my opinion, it’s just a matter of time before they do the same with the public. But keep in mind, the materials the public needs will be different because they’re not dealing with bodily fluids and not seeing multiple patients like we are in healthcare. The public can wear reusable masks and cotton gloves safely. Healthcare practitioners cannot.
Beyond that, there really isn’t much more we can do to slow the spread of the virus. There is no need to raid the supermarket shelves or horde things. The distribution system is not breaking down. Save your money. Just get what you need. There is no need to make a run on the banks either. Keep your money in there, so you can make a little interest, and you won’t get robbed. In the age of debit cards and internet transactions, it also makes things much more convenient, and can slow the spread of disease. Viruses can spread on paper money, but they can’t over electronic transactions. Less green is more clean. Sorry, that’s just a medical fact. Paper money is filthy. On the topic of money, save it. At this time, we can expect some disruption of income, as we either get sick, or our business closes because it’s a non-essential business that had contact with the public. Everyone is going to feel this in their wallets. So scale back on everything and save as much money as you can until this is over.
How long can we expect this all to last? The critical point in managing the spread of the virus is right now (March 17) through about April 15. At that time, we’ll know if our efforts are effective or not. Yes, more people WILL get sick, and more people WILL die of the Wuhan Virus. That is guaranteed. What we’re trying to do is keep that number to a minimum. If our efforts are effective, we can expect them to be extended maybe another couple weeks or so. So we’re looking at six weeks of strict rules at a minimum. As we get into May, and if it appears that we’ve been successful, then we can expect our social distancing policies to start loosening-up gradually and slowly. Things probably won’t return to complete “normal” until late summer or early fall, but we may see modified (looser) versions of these regulations resurface for the 2021 flu season, just to be on the safe side, as we may see another the Wuhan Virus outbreak too. Hopefully, we’ll have a vaccine by then. Worst case scenario, it will be almost 12 months before things really and truly return to “normal,” but more likely a revisit to normalcy by the end of this summer, and then a return to full normalcy by the end of next summer.
Finally, as Catholics, the big question is what are we going to do about our religious obligations? Keep in mind that if you are sick, even a just a little sick, you are automatically dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass. You should stay home as an act of charity to others. Beyond that, here’s the rule of thumb that I go by. So maybe it will help you. It would be beyond stupid, and even cruel, for a bishop to suspend all public Masses in his diocese without giving a general dispensation that suspends the Sunday Mass obligation for all Catholics as well. Seriously, who would do one without the other? So if all public Masses have been suspended in a diocese, then we can safely assume that we have a dispensation from attending Mass too. You can stop worrying about mortal sin in this area now.
That being said, if you don’t live in an area where all public Masses have been suspended, and/or you’re able to get to a private mass somewhere, be smart and practice social distancing. It’s okay to wear a mask at Mass, and it’s okay to wear glasses and gloves too. Plus, you should try to sit far away from each other. If you are in a state of grace, and able to receive communion, then you can pull down your mask before communion.
I do recommend receiving communion on the tongue and not the hand. I’m saying this not just as a traditionally-minded Catholic, but also as a healthcare practitioner. Why? Because the human mouth is usually much less filthy than the human hand, and priests report almost never touching the mouth or tongue when distributing communion that way, but almost always touching the hand when distributing communion that way. I say this as my personal opinion, not as medical advice, but just as personal opinion based on the information I’ve received from priests who distribute communion. I would think they know a thing or two about it, since it is their job. I would also avoid Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC) like the plague, because as part of the liturgy, the priest is required to wash his hands before handling the bread and wine. EMHC’s are not required to do so. Unless they’ve made a quick trip to the bathroom to wash up before communion (which I doubt they have) you can expect their hands to be unwashed and unclean. And no, hand-sanitizer doesn’t stop viruses nearly as effectively as good hand-washing. In all sincerity, the best thing to do is stop receiving holy communion entirely during this time of Lent, and do a thorough examination of conscience. Maybe you need to do some confession beforehand anyway. If confessions are not available, it is lawful to do communal confessions if the bishop allows it, and if for some strange reason that isn’t even available, you can make a perfect Act of Contrition before receiving in the Easter Season, then just get to confession as soon as it’s available again. That is allowable in unusual circumstances like these. The Act of Perfect Contrition is a prayer that every Catholic should memorize for situations just like this one, and God forbid, even worse situations. After a brief examination of one’s conscience, the following is said…
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen.
If you can’t get to a Mass at all, then do some special devotions on Sunday instead. Some parishes are offering a chance to watch Mass live-streamed on Facebook and/or YouTube. During the time used normally for communion, you could make an Act of Spiritual Communion while watching the Mass. Or, even if you can’t watch a Mass live-streamed, you can still pray this prayer on Sundays anyway…
My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things, and I desire Thee in my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though Thou wert already there, I embrace Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee; permit not that I should ever be separated from Thee.
Finally, there are personal and family devotions one could do in place of Mass when Mass is simply not available. Might I suggest some devotions from the St. Gregory’s Prayer Book, as well as various prayer-bead devotions I’ve outlined here, and here. This may also be a time to reassess how you give to your parish, or your parish of choice. I do highly recommend looking for parishes that offer traditional liturgy of some kind, and I’ve provided a link for finding them here. These are the parishes that should be supported the most, and if you’re wondering how, it’s easy. Simply obtain the mailing address of the parish you want to support. Then contact your bank and ask them to send a check there regularly, timed with your paycheck deposits, so it just happens automatically without you thinking about it. Most banks will provide this service for you free of charge, and some will even let you set it up yourself with a “Bill-Pay” option on their websites. Priests should really consider pushing their parishioners in this direction, as it does guarantee a more consistent parish income, but it also reduces the number of hands on the collection plate, and that reduces the transference of viruses. Another thing priests should consider is investing in those donation baskets on a long poll instead of using the usual collection plate. This again reduces the transference of viruses and disease.
When things finally return to “normal,” and they will eventually, we’re going to be a more germ-conscious society (I hope), and many social practices will have changed. Hopefully people won’t be so frightened of masks, and start wearing them as a courtesy whenever they’re sick. Hopefully, people will start to feel the same way about gloves and wear them more often, whether sick or well. Finally, we may want to take a good look at the Japanese method of greeting people. Bowing may seem a little strange to westerners, but if you’ve ever watched the liturgy of the Mass, it’s not totally foreign. They bow to each other during the Mass all the time. This comes from Western Medieval custom too. Who knows what the world will look like a year or two from now, but one thing is for sure. Things will have changed.
To Catholic priests, I highly recommend you get rid of your EMHC and start distributing communion on the tongue to your parishioners. You may want to consider using the method of intinction too, so they receive both species at least on Sundays, if it’s practical to do so. This is highly doable and very reasonable in most cases, once things go back to “normal,” whenever that happens.
We’re going to get through this. Trust me, the world is not going to end. It may get bad for a while, and we’re definitely going to lose some people, maybe even some loved ones, but we will make it through to the other side. The human race will go on, and Western society will conquer this just as it has all other plagues in the past. Remember, a lot of disruptions Americans are now seeing (as of March 17, 2020) are man-made, created by both government policy and the denial/panic response of the human herd. This will pass eventually. Then the true effects of the Wuhan Virus will start to materialize. This will disrupt families more than society as a whole. Priests and bishops must be prepared for that. We’re going to rely on them to keep our people calm, and minister to their spiritual needs in a time of great crisis as the death toll of the weak and elderly rises. This is something Catholic clergy are good at, and it’s something they’ve been doing for two-thousand years. My best advice I can give to the clergy is this. FLUSH THE SOCIAL GOSPEL. It’s not going to help you in a time like this. Seriously, flush it now! What people need to hear are matters related to the soul and eternity: judgement, heaven, hell and purgatory. Get back to the basics men! This is the time you were made to be priests for. God bless you and get to work! I’ll work on saving their lives, as many as I can. You work on saving their souls, as many as you can.