My son texted us the other day, letting us know that he had been sick over Super Bowl weekend. My mind immediately went to the phrase that has been used so often at my elementary school: "Well, there's a lot of that going around." Exactly what "that" is remains a bit of a mystery, but since this is the cold and flu season and I take a fistful of Vitamin C each morning in preparation to wade through the petri dish of five to twelve year olds, it could be any number of things. Hopefully whatever strain it is of whatever virus it is, I have been inoculated against it. Or perhaps, as I have suggested many times to my colleagues, we are all just a little sick from the end of October to mid-March and carrying a little bug around with us is just part of the job.
All that said, I never thought to ask my son about the coronavirus. It was last week when a fifth grader showed up to school wearing a surgical mask, and I asked him why. "My dad says I have to wear it." I nodded. "Should I take it off?" he asked. My first inclination was to suggest that it would be a distraction and that it might confuse other kids and his teacher. Then I had another thought: "You know, if your dad told you to wear it, you should probably keep it on."
I may have saved a life.
Or made a fifth grade classroom a little more chaotic as discussion of this new plague swirled about a group of prepubescents. Panic might set in. Unsubstantiated rumors of who is an who is not a carrier could run rampant, like a more scientifically based game of Cooties. Interestingly in the midst of all this chaos we have a number of teachers and students who continue to be vigilant germophobes, carrying their hand sanitizer with them, squirting out handfuls to anyone who looks suspect. Meaning anyone they encounter. On the flip side is the natural state of all children, who share bags of hot Cheetos and bits of clothing as if they were living in a leper colony. "Hey, we're already sick. What's going to happen? We're going to get sicker?"
I read the clickbait about the Bay Area coronavirus case, certain that this would be the harbinger of the stateside eruption of the epidemic. My mind leaped to scenes of geometric progression used to describe the way the Andromeda Strain burst forth, or the way zombies multiply in those first few hours.
And me without my anti-zombie inoculation. I need to make an appointment with Kaiser.