The Mother Lode: Coronavirus carries unknowns, so does its recovery – CT Insider

Posted: April 30, 2020 at 12:47 pm


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I think the weirdest thing about recovery from this disease is the uncertainty of recovery from this disease, according to my friend Heather, who contracted COVID-19 early last month.

Heather did not initially qualify for testing, but when things got dicey, a doctor diagnosed her over the phone with certainty. She was in bed for three weeks, isolated from her family with a mild case.

Mild' means 'not dying, just so you know, she told me. And let me tell you, there were days when we were on the fence.

Now, nearly 40 days after she first fell ill, Heather still has bad days.

My voice is still weird, and my lungs hurt...although they no longer have an elephant standing on them, she told me. On rainy days, they hurt more.

Heather has zero underlying conditions and is a health fanatic. Like, she makes her own hemp milk.

Im still in shock I got this, she confessed.

But according to many people I know who have struggled with this disease, without testing for both the disease itself and the resultant antibodies, there lingers this weird sense of wait, did I really have it?

Ironically, the same is true for people who have been tested. It has been widely reported that 30 percent of people who test negative for COVID-19 are actually positive.

Likewise, NPR has reported that ID NOW, the most commonly used coronavirus test, has a false-positive rate of 14.8 percent.

So that means if you have 100 patients that are positive, 15 percent of those patients would be falsely called negative. Theyd be told that they are negative for COVID-19 when theyre really positive, Dr. Gary Precop, who runs COVID-19 testing at the Cleveland Clinic, told NPR.

Thats soo not legit, my 12-year-old Louie said.

Yes, but dont forget that madness is the result not of uncertainty, but of certainty, as Nietzsche once put it. I was reminded of this by a friend who just started a Nietzsche book club, and is convinced I must join.

I can honestly think of nothing worse than joining a Friedrich Nietzsche book club over Zoom with a bunch of book publishers who have too much time on their hands. Right now, that would push me over the edge for sure. (Whatever edge" is left, that is.)

With COVID-19, the problem with uncertain diagnosis is that you dont know if you are immune. Add to it the fact that the medical community remains unclear about immunity in general, and youre basically sitting with Estragon and Vladimir in Waiting For Godot. But instead youre Waiting For Immunity.

And whats up with immunity," anyway? Even with the uncertainty, are we entering into some kind of dystopian state where people who are immune can walk around with a symbol on their foreheads amid a world under quarantine, and do all the things the rest of us cant?

Yes, Donald G. McNeil Jr., a science and health opinion writer for The New York Times, said in a recent interview. That is already beginning to take place. Germany is talking about issuing certificates, but you dont want something you can pass from person to person. So China takes peoples cellphones and has a QR code that you read as you come into the subway, you come into a restaurant, you come into any place where somebody can check your phone. And that readout tells the person looking at your phone that youre immune. So yeah, people are already thinking about this.

According to McNeil, these people (known as immunes) will be tempted to take other peoples jobs where travel is required, among other things. This creates a temptation and calculated risk to self-infect in an effort to create immunity, or do it the chickenpox party way.

And that would be really, REALLY not legit, to quote Louie.

Yeah, well, welcome to reality. As Samuel Beckett puts it: Youre on Earth. Theres no cure for that.

But Beckett also tells us something else and it's important. In the misery and horror of waiting in uncertainty, he tells us to act.

As Vladimir puts it, We wait. We are bored. No, don't protest, we are bored to death, there's no denying it. Good. A diversion comes along and what do we do? We let it go to waste. Come, lets get to work!

Thats what Waiting For Godot is about: the bold attempt to do something in the face of waiting, of living.

So I will leave you with the words of Arundhati Roy because, as usual, she nails it:

What is this thing that has happened to us? Its a virus, yes. In and of itself, it holds no moral belief. But it is definitely more than a virus. It has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back-and-forth, longing for a return to normality ... trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to re-think the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves.

Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.

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The Mother Lode: Coronavirus carries unknowns, so does its recovery - CT Insider

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April 30th, 2020 at 12:47 pm

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