The coronavirus pandemic has thrown virtually everything into chaos. Schools are closing or going online, conferences and meetings cancelled, international travel bans put in place, and local, state, and national health officials grappling with assessing the spread of the virus and strategies for dealing with it. The financial and commodity markets are taking historic hits and swings. And at a time we could use a little relief and some distracting entertainment, the Final Four tournaments are cancelled, the start of the MLB delayed and NBA season suspended. Regionally, the New Bedford Half Marathon was cancelled and the Boston Marathon moved to the fall for the first time ever. Locally, road races of all sizes are being cancelled.
As we might expect, there is plenty of finger pointing and second guessing going on. Unfortunately, that will probably continue for some time, which just doesn’t help things. It’s a time to realize nobody has all the answers and to work together on viable solutions. Hopefully we’ll see more of that in the days ahead. The reality is very few of us are going to contract COVID-19, which is a new (why it’s being called novel) strain of coronavirus causing the problem. Other strains of coronavirus are already in circulation, including the one causing common colds, which our bodies more or less can deal with, and the flu for which there are vaccines. In any event, preventative actions being taken should help keep the number of COVID-19 infections down. We’ve all heard the endless warnings to wash hands, etc. Here in Vermont, and no doubt everywhere, people are being careful. By executive order, Governor Scott is restricting gatherings to 250 people. UVM has set that number at 25. Even some smaller gatherings are being cancelled. But there is not a mass hibernation. People are out and about, though not shaking hands, but are quick to say hello and offer a smile. It’s a time when we need each other, a reminder of our humanity.
This crisis will no doubt pass and things return to something more normal. The summer light and warmth will retard this virus, though it will likely be back at some point, maybe before a vaccine is developed. Those who catch it and have mild symptoms (about 80%) will develop an immunity at least for this season. Older people are of the greatest concern as this virus starts in the lungs and can quickly develop into fatal pneumonia.
In a sense all of this brings unrest felt around the world closer to home. It’s been easy for us in the U.S. to take things for granted while many millions of people in the Middle East, Africa, and Central America are barely surviving as refugees due to both political and environmental disruption. Maybe it’s not so bad to feel the pain of watching 401k values tank. The truth is we’re all in this together and the current nationalistic trend is simply not sustainable.
With all that as background, many of us will still find ourselves able to start our days with a run, row, or bike ride. Maybe long, maybe short, or fast, slow, flat or hilly. We know it’s good practice to mix it up. And that helps put things in perspective. We can’t control most of what goes on around us. But we can make space to commune with the elements, circle the track, or jump on the treadmill or bike and feel the energy from making daily choices to do what we can to stay healthy and be ready when the races start coming around again. So yes, wash our hands, keep a safe distance, but put in those runs (or rows, or bike rides) and celebrate the fact that we can!