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COVID-19: Could We Have Seen This Coming?

Today I went to Facebook and was reading a post by one of my sisters about how she had made a dash out to the store at long last yesterday to see if she could get needed supplies. Among the items she wanted to buy were sugar for her tea and flour to do some baking. The store had neither.

Comments from others in the family attested to a lack of sugar and flour to be found elsewhere, including the area where I live in Alaska.

This got me to thinking about the other things that have happened since January, and that has brought me to want to follow my own advice and start keeping a record of what I am seeing happen around me and in the world.

I would like to say that this is for future generations, but… I am a writer, I am a gamer. While I prefer to read fantasy mostly, I love the games that explore what might happen in the wake of a global pandemic. I am, truth be told, leaning more toward reading such things as well. So… this is less a record of events, there are many who are keeping those, and more of a look at the pandemic from the eyes of a gamer and writer. A look from the eyes of a natural born researcher who wants to know more.

Among the games that rank as favorites of mine is Tom Clancy’s The Division. A game about the aftermath of a global pandemic.

The description of the game from Amazon.com reads:

“In the wake of a devastating pandemic that sweeps through New York City, basic services fail one by one, and without access to food or water, the city quickly descends into chaos.”

Would that happen? Would we see in this real world global pandemic the kinds of things that were shown in the 2016 video game by Ubisoft?

Well…

Did you know that the World Health Organization stated in March that COVID-19 was being transmitted on currency? If not, don’t worry, the WHO did not know that themselves.It seemed to be a case of mistaken translation from their having been asked if it was possible for bank notes to carry the virus and their spokesperson having noted that it was good practice to wash hands after handling currency, especially before handling food or eating.

I took notice of the suggested connection to the spread of COVID-19 and currency because in The Division the pandemic that swept the world was known as The Dollar Flu. This is because it had been spread via infected currency that was traded at a busy store in New York City on Black Friday.

The next point that caught my attention was a report in March that an ice rink in Spain had been transformed into a makeshift morgue. According to an article in Forbes:

On March 24, the Health Ministry announced around 500 new deaths and 6,600 cases overnight.

The Palacio de Hielo, or Ice Palace, began receiving the caskets this week after the regional authorities approved the temporary operation.

Once again my thoughts went to the video game The Division, where Madison Square Garden in New York was transformed into an emergency field hospital to treat the infected. US Gamer posted this walkthrough for Madison Field Hospital on March 7, 2016.

And most recently was the report out of New York a few days ago that, according to an article in Business Insider, a councilman had claimed there was a plan to bury those who died of COVID-19 in trenches in the parks.

“This likely will be done by using a NYC park for burials (yes you read that right),” Mark Levine, the chair of the New York city council health committee, tweeted. “Trenches will be dug for 10 caskets in a line. It will be done in a dignified, orderly — and temporary — manner. But it will be tough for NYers to take.”

(Note that the linked tweet in the Business Insider article has been removed from Twitter since the article was posted.)

It also needs to be noted that both the New York medical examiner and the mayor of New York have stated that they have heard of no such plans. So it seems to have been nothing more than a passing rumor with no real backing to it. Still… those familiar with the game The Division will know that quick burials in city parks were a thing in the game as death tolls rose in New York. Trenches much like those described by the initial Tweet are seen in the video game.

Should we have seen something like this coming? Novel corona viruses are nothing new. It has been many years since the last time a virus has proven so difficult to battle, but the world has known for some years that the threat is out there. If it has been written about in books, transformed into movies and video games, used as the basis for so many zombie scenarios… surely the WHO and CDC and others have known it was a possibility and have planed for such things.

For now, all that we can do is keep the suggested distance from one another, wash our hands frequently, avoid touching our faces, and take care of one another the best we can in this difficult time.

Find out more about COVID-19 and staying healthy from your local health department. You can locate your local health department via a search for your country or state, or visit directories such as the CDC Health Department Directory to locate your local health department’s website.

Also check the WHO Coronavirus page for COVID-19 for up to date information on staying safeduring this outbreak.

I will be writing up more articles about this in the days, weeks, months and possibly years ahead and tagging them all under the “COVID-19” and “pandemic” categories here on my site.

Until then, I would love to hear your thoughts and what you have seen. Are there sugar and flour shortages where you live? Are other products hard to locate? What do you think of the immediate shortage of toilet paper in the wake of the announcement of a pandemic situation? (I’ll cover that toilet paper crisis in another post sometime.) Share your thoughts and comments below. And if you enjoy my articles consider visiting my Twitch channel and following me there, where I play games such as The Division, Days Gone, The Last of Us, and other games about global pandemics daily starting at 2pm Alaska time. (-8 GMT)

Click the social media icon of choice to follow me there:

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