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Don't Just Be Young, Foolish, and Happy
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opinion columns
by Richard Harris

From the March 18, 2020 issue of The Journal
   Folks, the coronavirus is real. I know, I know – "the media" has been accused of blowing it out of proportion.
   It's possible that federal, state, and local governments are going overboard with all of the various cancellations. It also may be that they are doing exactly the right thing.
   I'm neither a doctor nor an infectious disease expert, but the people who are, well, they're nervous. Nervous probably isn't even a strong enough word. They're scared.
   No, most of them don't think this is going to be an apocalyptic event that leaves a small number of survivors shooting each other over the world's last remaining bags of Doritos and rolls of toilet paper. However, many medical professionals think it is possible that if the public doesn't take the precautions recommended, many people will contract the coronavirus. The vast majority will not only survive, but will also have no real serious complications.
   So, why worry? Because the "vast majority" isn't everybody. Those who are elderly and those who have compromised immune systems have a higher risk of serious complications or death. Just because you probably won't get seriously ill if you catch the virus doesn't mean it shouldn't concern you. If you get it, you could then infect other people. There are reasons – many of them sporting gray hairs atop minds full of wisdom – to take this thing seriously.
   There are times when we take things too seriously, but this is not the time to act like "The Tams" sang. Don't just "Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy."
   I've heard people making light of the situation because the virus only has a death rate of around 2 or 3%. Predictions are that – if precautions aren't taken – as many as 70% of people will get the virus. So, let's run the numbers. If 70% of Marion County's approximate 8,500 residents got infected, that's 5,950 people. If "only" 3% of them died, our local funeral home would suddenly have 178 funerals to conduct.
If you took the percentages on the lower side of the predictions – 30% infected with 1% death rate – we'd still be looking at around 25 dead Marion County residents.
   Please understand that I'm not predicting that either of those situations will happen. All I'm saying is let's use our heads and be cautious so we can be confident that it won't happen. Stop shaking hands and hugging, for a while at least. Wash your hands frequently. Stay away from large crowds. When you're in public interacting with people outside your home, give them some space (I've heard a recommendation of 6 feet if possible.)
   If you haven't already read the message from Dr. Dan Singleton on Page 3 of this newspaper, please flip backwards and do so. He will give you much better information and advice than I can. Please heed his advice and help your community and your country minimize the impact.
   And now that I've been way more serious than I like to be, I'm going to try to lighten things up. One bright side of this issue is the funny memes and sayings it has inspired, including:
   * Chuck Norris came into contact with the coronavirus. The virus is now in 14-day quarantine.
   * I've been homeschooling my kids for one hour. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year.
   * The coronavirus probably won't last long because it's made in China.
   * (Picture of a guy with a look of great anticipation) "Jehovah Witnesses realizing that everybody's at home due to the coronavirus."
   * Like a Good Neighbor, Stay Over There.
   * There aren't any sports games on TV. I noticed a woman sitting on my sofa. Apparently she's my wife. Seems like a nice lady.
   * This is the biggest game of Cooties I've ever seen.
   * Social Distancing World Champion (photo of Big Foot).
   * If they lower those cruise prices to $99 with free drinks, I'm going to have to pray about it and take my chances.
   * I asked a Walmart worker where I could find the nuts. He said they're in the toilet paper aisle.
   * I'd hate to see a diarrhea virus break out. People would go buy all the nasal spray.