Nobody knows how this is going to turn out. The mental anxiety, the lost wages, the dread of getting COVID-19, all and more combined is a seemingly insurmountable challenge. But we have no choice but to soldier on.
Early efforts to shut down our town have unquestionably kept our infection rate low. The foresight of our local elected and appointed leaders has completely outshone guidelines offered by our governor or president. Information about the virus keeps changing. What seemed a far-away thing in China soon infected areas of Europe and spread to the U.S., making us the nation with the most cases. And the worst is yet to come, officials say. I pray that Moab’s low infection rate will stay just that — low — as we duck for cover in a small city whose hospital can in no way handle the percentages of infection per capita that are happening in New York, Chicago and New Orleans.
One of our headlines last week said that just 5% of people being tested in Utah are positive for the virus. Let’s hope that’s truly the case. But this disease is new, the testing is new and woefully inadequate. One person I know has been so violently ill the last three weeks that he thought he would die. When he saw a medical professional more than two weeks ago, he was turned away because he didn’t meet the guidelines to receive a test. A week later, he was finally tested and the results were negative. But the high fevers, the nightly terrors, the airway issues and weight loss persisted.
Internet and news outlets are drowning in information about COVID-19. Spend much time digesting that stuff and you’ll get an ulcer for sure. But one thing I read proffered that the viral cultures are most reliable during the first four days of infection, the time that many people are asymptomatic. Once it gets down in the lungs the viral load in the upper airways goes down, making it more likely that the test will be negative.
You may have seen pictures of how one’s nasal passage is swabbed way back as far as the testing device can reach. Just one look at that makes me have a dry cough. But it’s evident that the swab can’t reach into the lungs, where advanced viral loads may remain.
I’m no medical professional, but right now, most of us are boning up on all things medical, from whether to use face protection, to staying six feet away from others, to disinfecting surfaces and washing our hands until they’re raw. We can rarely physically see our doctors face to face, and for good reason. They are on our front lines. But it makes us be more self-reliant and self-educated.
After bad advice for several months that facemasks are not effective, the national recommendations have changed. I don’t have a facemask. I have friends, though, who are busily sewing as many as they can. Bravo to any kind of help people can offer. Although my scarves and bandanas aren’t scientifically proven to keep me from emitting germs to the outer world, I’m going to wrap my face up in them when I’m in town, anyway.
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I can’t imagine how many gallons of gasoline I burned going up and down Main Street in the late ’70s when I was a teenager. Dragging Main was what we did. We could see our friends, rev our engines, and turn up our eight-track stereos to drown out the cares of the world.
Things have been pretty quiet around Moab since our lodging ban went into effect a few weeks back. What would normally be a chaotic time for Moab has become ghostly. Many of us would cite this as a silver lining, a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic. But I fear for the chaos that is ensuing throughout our country in lost lives, jobs and commerce.
A sector of the Moab community banded together last Friday evening in an effort that complied with social distancing guidelines while also helping many to maintain some sanity. They took to Main Street in their own vehicles, driving from north to south and back again, waving at acquaintances and squealing their tires just enough to blow off the steam that has been bottled up because of coronavirus. They dragged Main.
It was more fun to watch than Car Show weekend. A repeat event, called “The ’Rona is a Drag,” is scheduled for this Friday evening at 7. If you live near town and don’t want to hear it, turn up your TVs or put your ear plugs in and remember that you’ve likely got several more weeks of peace and quiet downtown while we soldier on.