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“I’m Scared I’m Going To Get COVID-19”

Every single morning of the past month, I’ve woken up with a scratchy throat. Every single morning, I think uh-oh. It’s happening. I’ve got it.

Spoiler: I haven’t gotten it. Yet. I expect I will someday.

Flattening the curve is important to keep from overwhelming our medical system, which would lead to more deaths. But theoretically, we’ll still have just as many cases this way as we would if we let it run wild. Because we have no vaccine, we can’t stop this thing from spreading. We really need to keep everyone from getting it at one time, but realistically we can’t stop people from getting it eventually.

So yeah, I’ve accepted the fact that I’ll eventually get COVID-19. You most likely will too.

And yes, that could end badly for you. But it might not be that bad. In fact, it likely won’t be that bad. We hear about the hospitalizations and the deaths because that’s what’s being reported, but it looks like the general consensus is that 80% of cases are labelled as “mild”. This isn’t a mild cold, exactly—in this case, “mild” literally means anything except “going to the hospital”—but it won’t kill you. 80% is eight out of ten. If, on some weird timeline, all members of both the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC got COVID-19 at the same time, Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, AJ McLean, Kevin Richardson, and Brian Littrell would be getting their frosted tips touched up in two weeks—and realistically speaking, Nick Carter and Howie would be back on the tour bus after a month or so of recovery.

Ah, the 90s. A simpler, leather-ier time.

Don’t get me wrong: this is an extremely serious situation. We need to be taking all the precautions we’re taking and more. People have died. People will continue to die. More people are getting seriously ill and dying than probably ought to, and we’re not exactly ahead of this thing. You need to be careful about protecting yourself and staying at home—especially if you have any co-morbidities or are in an at-risk group. Everyone thinks the worst only happens to someone else, but it could just as easily happen to you. Even if you’re part of the vast majority that avoids the hospital, you’ll still be pretty sick for a while. Too sick to work, in most cases. And of course, there are other things to be afraid of—the economy’s in trouble and you’re probably worried about your loved ones.

That said, it’s important to keep a level head. Real life is still happening(ish). If you convince yourself that you’re going to die if you catch this thing, you’re going to get stuck in that mindset even after we’re allowed to return to the world. How you react now is how you’ll react in the future.

Again, unless you’re older, repeatedly exposed (like healthcare workers), or chronically ill, you are much more likely to recover than not. It won’t be a fun two weeks, but in the vast majority of cases you’ll be okay without medical intervention. The big scary numbers you see reported on the news don’t reflect most people that have actually contracted this virus. The media doesn’t really know the good numbers because most mild cases aren’t recorded. In most areas of the country, as of this writing, the requirements for getting tested are pretty stringent: you must be a certain age, a healthcare worker, or have severe symptoms. You’ll likely pass this thing without ever becoming a statistic. You might get it and not even know you’ve had it!

Why doesn’t the media try to pick our spirits up, then? your Fox-news-watching parents might ask. Well, that’s easy: reporters also have to sustain themselves in a world where we refuse to pay for printed news media—how many times have you ignored the subscription requests for your local paper before reading it in incognito mode so it can’t trace your “free reads”? Dramatic headlines drive clicks, which makes ad revenue (on that note, if you want more content, head over to my homepage…) It’s that capitalism thing.

Stay home. Wash your freaking hands. If you get sick, accept it and take proper care of yourself so that you don’t make it worse. And if nothing else, see this silver lining: once you get it, you can’t get it again. Once you get through it, you can wake up in the morning without dreading that first swallow.

I’m a public librarian. Even though my workplace is obviously shut down because of COVID, I’m working from home. I know just how lucky I am how to have a job period. And honestly, there are lots of things about it that I actually really enjoy. I get to pet my dog whenever the heck I want. I’m finally working on paperwork that was due a month ago. I think I wore the same pair of shorts for three days this week. Life’s good.

But there are lots of things about my work that I can’t do from home. Even though I’m obviously not working on the service desk or leading any public programs right now, a lot of the work I can *technically* do at home is most efficiently done at my branch. I can’t plan things for the summer unless I have my hands on library resources. I need books from our shelves, I need office equipment, and I need quick access to my coworkers. I’m doing what I can from home, but those first few weeks back are gonna be rough. I’m the new kid on the block at work and I constantly feel like I’m falling behind even without a massive shutdown. When the closings started, I spent half the nights stressing about the virus and half of them stressing about work.

But I had a video conference with my department this week, and a few people expressed the same thing. I realized something: we’re all in the same boat. We’re all behind together. Nobody at your workplace or your school has any advantage over you. Everyone from the class clown to the star student to the brown-noser is sitting at home in their pajamas. Even celebrities, who never seem to be in the same city for three days, much less the same building, are at a stand-still in their work. The paparazzi has been so stuck they’re lucky to get a shot of Don Cheadle power-walking.

Keep doing what you’re doing. Work if you’re able to. Go to your online classes, even if you don’t feel like you’re making any progress. Keep up with regular routines as best you can so you’re really not behind when we go back to work. I know one of the scariest parts of this whole thing is that we don’t know what comes next. We don’t know when this will end. We don’t know what kind of train wreck we’ll stumble upon when we finally get back to normal. We might all come out of quarantine and be so damn busy we’ll wish we were back inside.

But everyone on this planet will know what you mean when you say “I need a few weeks to catch up.” They’ll have to catch up too.

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