We’ve all been hearing about the new coronavirus, called COVID-19. Many cities around the world have been shut down, to try to contain the virus. I live in Washington state in the USA, which has been called the epicenter of the epidemic in the United States.
I live in Eastern Washington, in Spokane Valley, marked by the red star in the map above. We have had only 16 cases of COVID-19 so far, but people still have been panicking. Many stores are empty, as people are buying and hoarding supplies, especially cleaning supplies and toilet paper.
The city of Spokane and the neighboring Spokane Valley are in shutdown mode. Schools are closed. Churches are closed. Restaurants are closed. People are being told to stay home. But this is not the first time this has happened in Spokane! In 1918 and 1919, the city was shut down due to the Spanish Influenza pandemic. I actually wrote about Spokane’s experience of that pandemic in my 2008 Master’s degree thesis from Eastern Washington University, called The Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919: The Spokane Experience.
You can read all about it by going to the “eBooks” tab on my website, and scrolling down the page until you see the cover of the thesis. Then, just click on the download arrow on the bottom left of the cover image. Or, you can click on this link to be taken directly to the eBooks page.
Because I am a Medical Anthropologist and I have studied the influenza pandemic, many people have been asking me what I think about what’s happening with COVID-19. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a question of IF something like this would happen (a major global pandemic), it was a question of WHEN it would happen. Due to globalization, it is very easy for pathogens to spread around the world very quickly. And, while shutdowns are inconvenient for everyone, these measures keep the COVID-19 virus from spreading out of control and overwhelming the health care system. Things might be bad during a city-wide shutdown, but things would be a lot worse without a shutdown.
Many people ask if I’m afraid. Yes and no. No, because I know panic doesn’t help anything. I have all the supplies that I need to stay home for a couple of weeks (thanks to some great friends and my church). But, yes, I’m afraid because I’m in a high-risk group, so catching the COVID-19 virus could be life-threatening for me. I have a rare progressive neuromuscular disease called Mitochondrial Myopathy. I use a wheelchair to get around, a feeding tube to eat, and a ventilator to breathe. I’m staying home and away from most people, although I have nursing assistants who take turns caring for me for most of each day. So, hopefully I won’t catch the virus, but if I do, I’ll take it one step at a time.
Want to learn more about the Spokane COVID-19 shutdown?
Check out this article from KHQ Q6 Local News, which also shows information from my Master’s thesis: https://www.khq.com/coronavirus/this-isn-t-the-first-spokane-shutdown-lessons-learned-from/article_1b46553c-68cc-11ea-8b60-7b9934f59425.html
Hope you are staying safe from COVID-19! Wishing all my readers the best during these difficult times.
Thanks for reading!