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Two Four Letter Words

First, I am new here. I have written columns for a local newspaper on an occasional basis in the past, but this is my first serious foray onto this platform, especially one as reputable and widely read as The Resurgent.  I hope that this post and the ones that follow are interesting, entertaining, informative and thought-provoking. I look forward to the discussion and am grateful to Erick and Philip and the other contributors for welcoming me.

Unless you have been in a cave for the last month (which some people would see as a definite self-quarantining advantage), we in the United States are all in the midst an unprecedented situation with the spread of the Coronavirus, or COVID-19.  Schools and businesses are closed for the foreseeable future.  Travel is restricted. Airlines have cut capacity and are mothballing planes. Restaurants and bars are being forced to shutter their businesses or offer only takeout.  Groceries and warehouse stores continue to cater to wide eyed and sometimes desperate consumers and have seen their inventories depleted (especially toilet paper, perhaps the new currency in a post COVID-19 world).

The New York Stock Exchange, the bastion of Wall Street, is closing its trading floor and will conduct business electronically after discovering that some traders have tested positive for Coronavirus.  And this action comes after seeing the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummet from record highs only few weeks ago to a loss of over 30% of its value.  My retirement accounts, like most of yours, have assuredly been gashed. By some accounts the market has lost  trillions of dollars in value. That’s a big number, friends.

People in government and in the private sector are telling us to expect a spike in unemployment and in business failures.  They are telling us that we should not travel internationally.

And despite the tireless and heroic efforts from healthcare and infectious disease experts around the world, the Coronavirus seems to be continuing its march.

By and large, Americans are not a fearful people. However, I sense that people are afraid. Afraid of a rampant disease that may afflict many hundreds of thousands of us before it is brought under control. Afraid that they may not have a job next month or even next week. Afraid that they may not be able to take care of their loved ones. Afraid that their retirement savings have vanished into thin air. Afraid that this might just be the challenge that we Americans are not prepared to face and ultimately overcome. Even afraid of being around others and engaging in healthy social interaction.

Living long term in this kind of fear is not healthy.  We are not meant to retreat into virtual isolation while we wait for what we fear is an inevitable outcome.  We need some news that will give us hope to see the other end of this long, dark tunnel, and we may have gotten some of that yesterday.

At his briefing yesterday, President Trump confirmed a story that has been making the rounds on social media for several days.  It appears that Chloroquine, a drug developed to treat malaria and which was also used to treat SARS has possibly proven to be effective in combating COVID-19.

Yesterday, Trump directed the FDA “to eliminate rules and bureaucracy so work can proceed rapidly, quickly and fast.” Trump said, “We have to remove every barrier.”

Hope is a powerful antidote to fear. Hope enables us to see past the challenges that threaten to paralyze us into frightened isolation and to move forward into a future beyond COVID-19.  Hope enables us to leave our isolation and take walks with our kids.  Hope enables us to give a smile and a wave to our neighbors. Hope allows us to believe that we will win this fight. Two four letter words – fear and hope. One will paralyze you. The other will enable you to see past the bleak present into a promising future.

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