Dreadful COVID ordeal is a potent reminder to stay vigilant

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Don’t let your guard down.

Although veteran L.A. Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke had for months vigilantly “abandoned” any group settings where the new coronavirus flourishes, he acknowledged recently letting his guard down. And COVID-19 hit him hard. In his first column in almost two weeks, Plaschke said he dined out with friends in a couple of lawful, socially-distanced outdoor environments — where the masks inevitably came off. Plaschke thinks he got infected there. 

Though the now-recovering journalist wasn’t hospitalized, Plaschke wrote his piece to share that even a healthy person without a heightened vulnerability (like older age or health conditions) can get pummeled by a disease that presently has no proven cure nor a vaccine

The microbial parasite is around. It’s part of our lives. Experts don’t expect the virus to magically disappear. And COVID-19 doesn’t just bring intense physical woes.

“Nobody tells you about the dread,” wrote Plaschke. “From the moment my doctor phoned me with the test results, to the moment I am writing this column, I have been scared out of my mind.”

While sick, Plaschke knew fatality rates were low — though experts know the rate of death is substantially higher than the common flu and the virus has killed over 166,000 Americans as of Aug. 13 — and that he was an otherwise healthy person. But that couldn’t quell the understandable anxiety.

“It doesn’t matter,” Plaschke continued. “Once you realize you have a virus that could kill you and there’s nothing anybody can do about it, you live in constant fear.”

Fear is reasonable, considering SARS-CoV-2 is still a relatively newly emerged human pathogen. That means our population has little to no natural immunity. 

 “It has everyone on the planet to attack,” Dan Janies, a professor of bioinformatics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who researches viruses, told Mashable in May.

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