I know more than a few people that have had corona. My former trainer’s wife. My Muay Thai teacher’s ex-girlfriend. A high school friend. Two friends in California I have invited to stay at my house before. My cousin and his wife. My uncle’s wife. I even think I had it myself.
In July, I was sick for 3 weeks. My resting heartbeat went up 16 beats per minute. I got winded walking short distances. I had a mild, dry cough and for the first time in my life, my blood oxygen level dropped below the normal range. Sounds like corona, right? Except when I was tested, I came up negative. I followed that up with an antibody test, which also came up negative. So, it couldn’t be COVID-19, could it? Some people might think that, but not me. Most people assume the tests produce false positives, but after reading about Elon Musk’s experience it seemed just as possible to me that I had received false negatives.
Did I mention that right after I was sick, I had Deep Vein Thrombosis appear in my left leg? In other words, a blood clot appeared in that leg, which is extremely dangerous because the blood clot can break off, go into your lungs, and kill you dead as a doornail. I’m still on Warfarin, which is essentially rat poison, because of that. Some estimates put the number of people killed by DVT’s every year as high as 300,000 and guess what has caused these sort of blood clots to appear in a lot of people? Coronavirus.
What that should tell you is that I don’t think the coronavirus is fake and although like a lot of people, I underestimated how dangerous it was early in the year, I certainly am not doing it now. I know it’s possible that I could get the coronavirus and I am very aware that it could kill me if I do.
So, does that mean I have been hiding away in my house? Not at all. I go to the gym. I take Muay Thai classes. I go to restaurants. I go on dates. I go to the movies. I get my hair cut. I go to Wal-Mart. I hang out with friends.
Why would I do those things when there is a risk that I will get coronavirus?
For two reasons.
First of all, the coronavirus is a genuine risk, but we’re overreacting to it because it’s a novel threat. Given my previous experience, I certainly don’t want COVID-19, but the chances of someone my age dying from it at this point in time is extremely low. Even with that, I am taking steps to make that risk even smaller. Although I have worn masks from early on, I consider myself a mask-skeptic at this point and just wear masks anywhere they’re required to be polite. I also pay attention to social distancing and try to avoid being stuck in any highly crowded area or small indoor space with a lot of people in it. In addition, I regularly and thoroughly use hand sanitizer when I am out and about. That may not be as effective as hiding away, but it should significantly reduce my chances of getting infected.
Second, you cannot ignore the opportunity cost of hiding yourself from the world. Have you heard all these people saying 2020 is the worst year ever? Well, it’s not my worst year ever. I’m making more money now than I was before corona kicked off. I remodeled a house this year. My Muay Thai got a lot better and I’ve started learning Kali stick fighting as well. I got a concealed weapons permit. I’ve had people fly out to see me, I’ve walked on the beach, and I have transformed my backyard from some scraggly trees and dirt mixed in with some weeds into this:
You want to tell me I’d have been better off hiding away in my house all year instead of doing all that? That’s certainly not what I’ve concluded – and I recognize that I’m one of the fortunate people in this pandemic. I don’t own a “non-essential” small business that has been closed by an arbitrary government edict. I’m not depressed or suicidal and struggling to keep from being overwhelmed without friends around. I don’t have a loved one in the hospital dying without being able to see me. I’m not trying to figure out how to keep the lights on and food on the table because my government is refusing to let me work. You want to tell all of us we’re better off being forced to stay at home twiddling our thumbs? Because the reality is that the vast majority of people aren’t better off being locked down. That’s why everyone should be free to make their own choices. If, for whatever reason, a person feels like they are better off steering clear of other people and staying home to avoid the coronavirus, I totally respect that, but the rest of us who don’t see it that way deserve the same courtesy. The government isn’t doing people a favor by destroying their livelihoods, impoverishing their families, and trapping them in their homes for “their own good.”
With all that in mind, I know the risks of COVID-19 and I am choosing to continue living my life. If I were unlucky enough to die, do you know what I’d do differently if I had another crack at it? Nothing. You don’t stop flying on planes because people die in a plane crash. You don’t stop driving in cars because someone dies in an auto accident. None of us are getting out of here alive and while we shouldn’t throw our lives away foolishly, we can’t be so afraid of taking risks that we refuse to live either. So, if I die of coronavirus, don’t feel sorry for me. I knew the risks and decided it was worth it.
John Hawkins is the author of 101 Things All Young Adults Should Know.