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Park the snark 

Are you on Facebook? You've no doubt seen the memes: "Hey libtards, when Trump's $1,000 check arrives, send it back because he's not your president" or "Hey right-wingers, when the government's $1,000 relief check comes, send it back because that's socialism."

Really, people? We can't even come together in a crisis? Can't we tamp down the partisan wackadoodle hatred level just a notch or two?

No way, José, because coronavirus was predicted in horror novelist Dean Koontz's 1981 book The Eyes of Darkness: "They call the stuff 'Wuhan-400' because it was developed at their RDNA labs outside of the city of Wuhan, and it was the four-hundredth viable strain of man-made microorganisms created at that research center," Koontz wrote.

His book goes on to explain the virus is "a perfect weapon. It only afflicts human beings."


Then there are the conspiracy theories. Creator of the Bio Weapons Act, retired Dr. Francis Boyle, in an interview with Transcend Media Services, believes the disease escaped from the Institute of Virology, which houses China's only bio-safety level 4 laboratory (BSL-4) in Wuhan, China, and is a bio-weapon.

Gulp. Shudder.

Some are calling it the "Boomer Remover" because it seems to target older people in particular who are part of the baby boomer generation. Some claim it was developed by the CIA or sponsored by Bill Gates.

Smack my head!

My favorite is that the pandemic was predicted on the TV series The Simpsons because purportedly an episode in which both Homer and Principal Skinner were sick featured a broadcaster reading off a piece of paper with the words "corona virus" next to an image of a cat behind him on a TV screen. Turns out it was a doctored image. It originally said "apocalypse meow." Much funnier.

Let's all collectively take a deep breath, in ... and now out ... .

Many people are understandably afraid, and others are understandably dismissive, but neither those who are freaking out and playing up the pandemic nor those who are mocking those concerned and joking about reactions toward the current situation are helping. Now is the time for reason, for calm, and for kindness.

The fact is the vast majority of those who will contract COVID-19 will survive. It's also a fact that many—too many—will die. If you believe the government initially underreacted to the outbreak, you have a point, but what will your finger-pointing accomplish now? If you believe the government is overreacting, think of someone you care about who's most at risk. Is your convenience worth jeopardizing someone's life through unnecessary exposure?

What's entirely predictable at this point is that more people will get sick, some will die, but the quarantine will work to slow the spread of the disease. What's also predictable is that a few weeks down the road we'll all think we have a handle on it, the quarantine will be lifted or people will become complacent, and the disease will resurface, leading to another round of quarantine. Expect this game of whack-a-mole to repeat itself a few times.

What's equally concerning is the long-lasting damage we can expect this pandemic to have on our economy. When you live in a capitalist consumer culture that must constantly grow to thrive, the coming contraction is going to feel like a boa constrictor around a baby.

So many of us live paycheck to paycheck, especially those in the service industry, and when those paychecks don't come, rents don't get paid. Hence, landlords can't pay their mortgages, so banks don't get paid. It's been demonstrably proven that trickle-down economics doesn't work, but we're about to find out if trickle-up economic deprivation does.

Everyone's going to feel this one. As of Wednesday, March 18, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell below where it was when Trump was inaugurated. That sucking sound is the value leaving your 401K ... if you're lucky enough to have one.

So what to do? For starters, don't panic. No one needs that much toilet paper, and your unnecessary hoarding is depriving people who are trying to act civilly amid the crisis. Next, if you're healthy and able, help others who need it. There's a series of Facebook groups—HelpSLO, HelpPaso, HelpFiveCities, HelpAtascadero, HelpSantaMaria—set up to connect those in need with those who can help. These are amazing gestures, but don't forget your own neighbors who might be in need.

Normally I like to keep government in check, but sometimes—like now—it's a better idea to give the authorities the benefit of the doubt and follow their directives. They're trying to mitigate the effects of this pandemic, and while it may be painfully boring to stay at home, do it! You may not be at increased risk, but others may be.

If you're sick or if you have someone at home who's sick, take extra care. That grocery store clerk who took the money you sneezed on may have an elderly relative at home who doesn't need their caregiver bringing home even so much as the common cold.

The true and coming concern is our beleaguered health care system, which in the coming weeks will surely be overwhelmed. The last place you want to be in an outbreak is a hospital. Stay safe. Δ

The Shredder is sheltering in place. Send ideas and comments to

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