Normal schnormal
LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph Gonzales (The Freeman) - May 24, 2020 - 12:00am

This coronavirus lockdown has given us many new terms to learn and familiarize ourselves with --such as that ubiquitous “lockdown”. Words that will define this era, and the generation that lived (or died) in its grasp.

To tell you the truth, some of these terms are getting tiresome already. Like, I don’t want to hear another lecture about how we have come to a “new normal” or how all of this is “unprecedented”. Too many people spouting the same things without reflecting upon what they’re saying.

Take “new normal”, for example. The situation hasn’t even normalized. Yes, many parts have been allowed out of the lockdown phase, but the big cities are still grappling with the virus, and figuring out a way to contain it. Normality isn’t around yet, not by a longshot.

Airports are still closed. Borders are likewise shut. Going to another country is a Herculean effort.

Tourism is dead. Dining in restaurants is questionable. Some stores might be open --but will I ever fit clothes again, fearful another person might have fit their sweaty bodies into the very same designer shirt I’m being tempted with? And don’t get me started on dating. Who knows what the rules on dating are going to be? There isn’t a “normal” to live within. Not just yet.

We’ll find out what the new normal is once it arrives. Now is probably not the time to bandy it around.

The same applies to “unprecedented”. What exactly had no precedent? There have been many instances of plague striking the nations of the world. There are still survivors of the Spanish flu era around --we’re just too young to remember or too lazy to research the wealth of history. SARS and Ebola were poor, yet prominent, cousins of this healthy coronavirus. And yet the published materials recently all keep regurgitating this “unprecedented” word, as if there has been no precedent ever available for them to compare this epidemic with.

Another term we’ve been bombarded with is “herd immunity”. I won’t pretend to know anything except the most basic concepts about this. Yet, so many semi-literate individuals are out and about spouting herd immunity theory as a panacea to all that ills us, it actually makes me ill. When did you get your degree in epidemiology, sweetie? (And that actually makes me want to whine about that viral hit, “epidemiologists”, but out of respect for Dr. Fauci, I’m going to drop it.)

One term I do want to see more of, although I’m not getting any visibility, is “contact tracing”. What the heck is happening to our contact tracing efforts? Where are the outbreaks? Who have been theoretically exposed, and how is our government warning and isolating them? What are the success rates?

This key element of containing the virus has not been visible to those of us anxiously following the daily progress reports, and the absence of this information is both frustrating and alarming. We can’t just all think that all the cases are being contained within the hospitals --these people checking in are getting the virus from somewhere else-- so how and where did they get it?

Sadly, we do not know, and we are not informed. Aside from a few pockets (like known barangays that have been cordoned off from the rest), we are kept in the dark. Until we do, we will always be in our ECQs and GCQs (more terms to hate), and we will not get to that nirvana of normality.

LOCKDOWN
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