Coronavirus Fears, or How We Should Have Been Living All Along

Coronavirus image courtesy of the CDC


Coronavirus – COVID-19 – panic is sweeping the nation. Originating overseas, the precautionary shuttering of public places and events to limit the spread of the virus has now begun in earnest in America. Classes at some of the country’s largest colleges are planned online until further notice. James Bond’s new film will be pushed to release at Thanksgiving instead of April. Coachella and Stagecoach have both been pushed back as well. But for now, many other public places are remaining open. Public places like Disneyland.

I ventured to Disneyland last week amid the virus fears and many guests were talking about it in the park, especially in the bathroom while stopping to wash their hands. Although I was wary about visiting at first, I soon realized that what has come out of the coronavirus fears is just resetting society back to where it should have been all along.

To combat the spread of the virus while remaining open, Disney has installed extra hand sanitizer stations throughout the park, which many guests were frequently using, as well as their own sanitizer from home. Guests stopped by the bathrooms to wash their hands. A lot. Unlike other times, people won’t leave the bathroom without washing their hands and it seems everyone is using soap. Nobody is sneezing into their hands and then grabbing a handrail; they use their elbows to catch a sneeze. Many people were wearing medical masks or using bandannas as masks. This does nothing to protect them, but it helps them to not spread their germs to the rest of us. Nobody pressed up against my back while in line. A polite social distance was maintained at all times. Guests weren’t touching their faces, another habit to avoid. And possibly due to the fear of going out in a public space the crowds at the park were surprisingly thin – always a good thing at a theme park.

These health habits shouldn’t be things we are aware of only when a virus threatens the population. There should be common cleanliness and social distance practices exercised every single day, regardless of pathogens. This will help to not only stem the spread of COVID-19, but any other communicable disease. And there is no reason – and I mean absolutely no reason – that anyone should ever push up against a stranger while in line for a ride. Everyone is in line. It’s not a speed thing. People don’t have to push into me. Take two steps back.

Not to say that there is anything positive about the coronavirus outbreak – it is claiming the lives of sick and elderly people in our country and more around the world – but the fear that is being stirred up is at least shedding light on how unprepared we really were as a society to implement good hygiene practices. Look at how far we have fallen. There is a run on hand sanitizer, bleach and medical masks. And, for some reason, toilet paper. But not only does this show that the stores are unprepared to meet the demands of a public that has decided to implement good cleanliness habits, it shows that we ourselves weren’t living that way to begin with. From a preparedness point of view, we as Californians should be better prepared. We should each have toilet paper and water for at least two weeks in preparation for earthquakes, let alone a viral infection. We can do better than this.

So as the year marches on and the weather warms and the virus hopefully subsides, don’t grow complacent. Keep that vigilant effort of defense against pathogens. Hoard water and toilet paper for an earthquake kit, not a virus. Wash hands for general health, not just a pandemic. And get in line for Haunted Mansion without pushing your body into the strangers around you.