Humanity is at the greatest crossroads in its history, caused by the unexpected attack of the new coronavirus, causing the pathology COVID-19. No one can say a priori that it is better to reopen or not to reopen. It has been heard over there: “I’d rather die of COVID-19 than famine”. Whoever says this has no idea of the horror of dying from disease, nor of the long agony of dying of starvation. No one should die from one or the other cause.
What do you think? Reopen or not reopen activities.
Reopen? It would be foolhardy to raise the quarantine in countries where the curve of the new coronavirus is far from flattening. In the United States they are protesting in several cities asking to leave the confinement. Something that is not understood when in that country COVID-19 deaths doubled in just one week, increasing from twenty thousand to forty thousand in just seven days, as reported by CNN on 04-20-2020.
Do not reopen? It is understandable that there is a collective anxiety to restart work, because in a slowdown we all lose. And if the break lasts for months, it will be impossible to sustain it. Nor is it possible to quantify in advance the resulting damage, or how and when this nightmare will end, since there is no precedent for such a catastrophic situation.
Who suffers? Almost all of us suffer from this mega crisis. The laid-off workers and employees, the salesmen who do not receive commissions, the professionals who work on their own, the people who do various jobs, the entrepreneurs, the small merchants, the teachers, the artists, the musicians, the taxi and bus drivers, street vendors and others more.
There is another harm other than economic. And it is the psychological one, that almost all of us suffer, but especially the smallest children who do not understand this of having to live between four walls. They do not understand why there is no school, no vacation and not even the usual little park.
A complex decision. Choosing the way between staying at home to avoid contagion, or losing income to the point of going into the ranks of the unemployed for a long time, or seeing the business fail, or not being able to bring daily food to the family because of informal work has been lost.
Abandon quarantine. It would mean increasing the number of cases that reach hospitals, where there is no longer room for more sick people, health personnel are increasingly reduced by the number of heroes who have died fighting to save lives, fighting an invisible enemy. Survivors doctors, nurses, stretcher-bearers, waiters are exhausted, they can’t take it anymore and it would be extremely demoralizing for them to see that while they continue to risk their health and lives, others enjoy themselves on the beaches or get together to chat with their friends in the park, in addition to the risk of infecting others.
Reopen activity. It is equivalent to giving advantages to an extremely aggressive, fast, and lethal virus, which would not miss the opportunity to repower and perhaps even mutate. The coronavirus must be kept crushed, because if we do not crush it, it will crush us.
What to do then? Some intermediate solution to the problem could be given. Basic companies such as electricity, water, gas, public transport, telephony, internet, radio, television, cable entertainment, etc. have been active. Essential companies such as supermarkets, bakeries, pharmacies, and service stations, among others, have not stopped for a day, but they work during restricted hours. The wholesalers and transporters that supply them also continue working. The same goes for their suppliers, that is to say, the producers of the field, the cattle breeders, the poultry farms, the pharmaceutical laboratories, the oil refineries, and some others. It is a long chain that has remained active. The same to Internet businesses, from the giant Amazon to small restaurants that deliver their preparations and other merchandise.
The idea is to gradually incorporate other sectors into this system. At first, in very restricted hours and with the highest standards of health prevention like those we already know. This cannot yet be done in cities that are the focus of the pandemic. But in other parts one could think of a progressive incorporation.
The post-Covid-19 world.
After we get over the coronavirus there will be many things to change in the world. Several reengineering will have to be undertaken. Starting with national health systems, as well as global health entities. Engineers and architects will have an important role in adapting clinics and hospitals to situations like these. The construction of new hospitals with preventive aims to be able to attend patients in massive quantities will be urgent.
It will be necessary to rethink the activities at a distance, both teleworking and remote study and telemedicine. Some practices learned in this COVID-19 crisis are here to stay, such as hygiene, use of face masks when a cold occurs, meticulous handwashing, etc.
Sandor A. Gerendas-Kiss
In this 21st century, five pandemics have occurred in the last 15 years (Wikipedia source).
2005: Bird flu in its H5N1 strain. 2009-2010: The pandemic of influenza A (H1N1). 2012-2015: SARS or acute respiratory syndrome. 2014: The Zika virus. 2019-2020: Pandemic of COVID-19.