Running in circles from Covid-19 and an infodemic

We are now heading into the seventh week of Lockdown. Tempers are fraying. Twitter is a toxic cesspit and finger pointing has become so endemic that hospital emergency rooms might end up with more repetitive stress injuries than actual COVID-19 cases.

Perhaps the problem is that the government has actually done very well, the curve has been flattened, so much so, that everyone is expecting that things can just go back to normal. But there is no normal to go back to. Those days are gone.

But because we aren’t knee deep in mass graves – yet, we are now awash in instant epidemiologists and two pandemics: COVID-19 and an infodemic of real science and crackpot theories.

The new regulations are a case in point. The number of people who took to social media to complain after being allowed out last Friday was notable by the sheer volume who obviously skipped the day the teacher explained radius.

Being able to exercise; pedalling, jogging or walking, in a 5km radius from your house is an opportunity that’s probably way beyond the fitness levels of most people in the country. Put another way, if you were to run the five kms to get to the outer area and then run the circumference allowed and then the 5kms back, you would have done 41,9kms.

That’s 300m shy of a full marathon in three hours! If you can do that kind of distance, then you won’t have any problem getting up at 6 in the morning; the MAMILS (middle aged men in lycra) certainly don’t in their pelotons at 4am BC (Before Corona) preparing for the Argus.

But for the rest of us? Now we’re elite athletes? In the first week of the Lockdown there was a meme that claimed 87% of gym members wouldn’t even know their gyms had been closed. This is a little like that.  Those who want to walk, run or bike will do it, rain or shine, for the rest of us it will be like a New Year’s resolution.

The same opinions trump facts when it comes to facemasks. The masks are a pain in the arse at first, but they’re better than no mask at all. As one nurse put it; it’s like two people standing naked next to each other. If the one pees on the other, the other gets wet. If the one being peed on is wearing pants, they still get wet but not quite as much. If they’re both wearing pants, the person peeing wets themself and no one else.

It doesn’t get simpler than that. Do the right thing; wear a mask and wash your hands, if you’re going out. Or stay at home, it’s your call.

That doesn’t mean we must stop holding our leaders to account, but we do have to look into the mirror now and again too. We also need to stop fetishizing the politicians; having super heroes and super villains is a bit like super rugby and referees. Sometimes there isn’t a massive conspiracy at all, it’s just that we didn’t like the decisions going against us.

Originally published on the 9 May 2020 in the Saturday Star