COVID Cassandra

Trevor Soderstrum

I picture thousands of high school science teachers and retired teachers, with dark bags under their eyes, sitting forlorn on their couches. In front of them sits an empty glass and a wine bottle tipped on its side. Their husbands and wives come into the room, shake their heads and say with a hint of disgust, “You drank the whole bottle again. I am telling you right now, I have hidden the gun, locked up all the knives, and there is not a piece of rope to be found anywhere in this house.”

“You will never understand. I taught science,” comes the response. “They kept asking every day if what I was teaching was going to be on the test. They wouldn’t  learn it unless it was on the test. Well, this was the test.”

COVID was the test. America turned into the kids who never cracked their science books and tell their parents the reason they have to go to summer school is because the teacher does not like them. If anything should be clear from this nightmare of over a year, it is that too many Americans do not understand the scientific process or how science works.

Trevor Soderstrum

COVID did not, and does not, care if you are Republican or Democrat or what your opinion of it is. Some of us bought into it was all a hoax. COVID put on its bloody boots, walked the center yellow line and broke the glass.

“It is only old people and those with pre-existing conditions. Why should I put on a mask, wash my hands and social distance for them? I am not going to die from it.”

"You mean the people that one guy in that one book said we should be concerned for?  What was his name again? Oh, yeah, Jesus.”

COVID, laughs, looks at Freddy, Jason, Michael Meyers, and the other horror icons and says, “Let me show you how it is done. Hold my beer.”

We saw people in white laboratory coats in front of the capitol and went, “They must know what they are talking about.” Turns out, those white coats should have been straight jackets. COVID smiled and said with a scoff, “Say hello to my little friend.”

Hydroxychloroquine, a modern name for snake oil when it comes to COVID-19, was peddled like a medicine show wagon had just pulled into town. Television preachers sold concoctions through our screens that promised health and vigor. COVID leaned back in its chair and said, “Let me show you a real witch’s brew.” 

Social media filled with posts from people that did not understand basic scientific terms like “prolonged exposure” and what “comorbidity” means on a death certificate. We forgot that most people did not die of HIV. They died of things like pneumonia and cancer. COVID didn’t even notice. It was too busy reenacting the final scene of Bonnie and Clyde.

With the end in sight and governors reopening states, what is a few thousand more dead bodies here and there? The cavalry is coming in the form of a vaccine. Yet, there are new phrases coming out of people’s mouths. “Once in a century pandemic. We had the Spanish Influenza Pandemic in 1918”. (It most likely originated in Kansas, went overseas, mutated and came back to us. So, Bill Self is not the only evil thing Kansas has unleashed on the world.) 

Remember when Iowa had that once in a century flood, back in 1993. It seemed climate change felt the need to alter the word “century,” because in 2008 people suffered through another major flood. Turns out it was a pretty short century. 

I know that I am Cassandra here. It is not going to be another century until the world experiences another pandemic. We have too many people on this planet. It seems we enjoy having babies. In turn, we are pushing into former wildlife areas and altering the landscape. Most of the major predators have retreated. Critters like rats and mice are the last to leave.

They are the guests at the party that you wake up in the morning to find passed out on your floor. Like those guests, they are usually disease filled creatures ridden with mites, fleas and other nasty pests. Let the germ swapping begin.

The world is not flat. We are more interconnected than ever. America first, which really means America alone, doesn’t work. COVID has shown that T-shirt does not sell. It might be a decade, or even two or three, but the next pandemic is out waiting on cockroaches’ wings or the little feet of mice.

We built monuments to wars. I hope we build a monument in Washington to honor those who have died in this pandemic and those who have put themselves on the line to stop these viral flood waters. If we forget the lessons COVID has taught us, the next pandemic, which might be much deadlier, is not going to give us time to ask, “Will this be on the test?”

Columnist Trevor Soderstrum was born and raised in Story City. He can be reached at tjsode@gmail.com.