As COVID-19 cases explode, human spirit will be tested

Cases of COVID-19 in the United States have exceeded all other countries, surpassing China and Italy, reporting 82,404 cases on Thursday, March 26.

Less than 30 days ago, hugging a friend was a normal activity. Now, it would be an excessive health risk. Ten days ago, precautionary actions were implemented. Now, the County plans to turn Cal Poly into an alternate hospital site.

The jump in confirmed cases in the U.S. are a result of aggressive testing after weeks of semi-paralysis over testing supply chains. Now we have a clearer picture of just how widespread the infection had become while Spring Breakers shrugged it off just last weekend.

The visual is jarring. The world — our world — is painted red with cases of COVID-19. It’s in our country, our states, our cities, and our neighborhoods.

Health officials expect exponential increases of the spreading disease, and few defenses. The tone of administrative officials becomes increasingly more stern, and police enforcement becomes a greater threat to freedoms as a means of prevention.

Officials have moved from a position of pure prevention, to a reactive position of treatment to slow the spread, and “flatten the curve.” Hospital resources will soon be overwhelmed and alternate sites will fill. Increasingly, personal interaction, from receiving deliveries to visiting grocery stores will become a valid threat to personal health and, by extension, the health of the family.

With a collapse of societal norms, and further collapses in store, we go from day to day swinging between optimism and concern — planning for the best, while preparing for the worst. Millions registered for unemployment even as a record stimulus package is prepared to stymie an economic crash. Visions of the future shift between a kum ba yah uniting of a world against a devastating virus and a heavy-handed government crackdown dystopia of agora-xenophobia and forced social isolation.

Each day we venture further into the darkness of the reality of our human condition and faceless enemy, looking for light at the end of the tunnel — with no credible answers as to when this might be over, or what life might look like when it is.

Our humanity is the X-factor. Our faith in the decency of each other is the fabric of our potential. Our human education cannot be erased, but it can be forgotten, rewritten, or distorted if we allow it. It is up to us to put our ideals above our gratification, and remember that the freedom that was demanded by the authors of the Constitution was inalienable from our human spirit. As we traverse the next chapter of our human history, we will be remembered for our resilience and dependency on our humanity — action in the face of fear, not the absence of it.

We are still searching in the dark together, and while we must observe a physical distance, let’s keep our human spirit in view as the light guiding us through. We no longer need to ignore the fact that we will not all make it, but we can do our part to protect our personal health, our public safety, and our community values that make it special. When we do come out the other side, we will able to point to common principles that bind us together. Let those principles remind us that we need each other, and no day is that truer than another.

There are more than 7 billion people on Earth. A very small percentage (less than 0.01 percent) has been confirmed infected by coronavirus, but a similarly small percentage of the world have not been impacted by its outbreak — while 100 percent of our future will be. We are in this together. And the test is how we come out of it.

At this point, I would sell you some snake oil, but alas, I can only point you to your own human heart and ask you search it and find what it is that connects you to your people beyond a common enemy. We need you.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles