In this article I want to share my thoughts on the COVID-19 virus based on what I have read. I am no expert in this area, but write as a concerned citizen. We live in a scary environment since viruses heighten a person’s anxiety, because they are an invisible threat to one’s existence. 

Unfortunately, during serious emergencies some governments see journalists, in particular, as “adversaries.” Instead, they should be viewed as “valuable partners” who can give folks information that is “accurate and transparent.” Also, lack of solid, truthful information makes folks feel “helpless and susceptible” to false rumors. (See A. Brown, et al, “What the Fukushima meltdown taught us about how to respond to coronavirus,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March 13, 2020). 

Here are some tips to having a high-functioning immune system. It appears that “the more one stresses” about the COVID-19 virus, the more likelihood one may “suffer from it” according to experts specializing in infectious diseases like Morgan Katz from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Katz also suggest that we eat plain yogurt daily, since it supports the good bacteria that helps fight viruses. 

The chief medical officer of One Medical, Andrew Diamond, suggests that folks use relaxation techniques that they enjoy like meditation. I enjoy fishing, lifting weights at home, writing, and talking on the phone with family and friends.   See A Special Section of The Wall Street Journal, March 13, 2009, p. B2). Walking and exercise help with immune-system function, since they naturally lower cortisol function that turns off cells in one’s immune system.

Some years ago, I took an upper level course in social work on Marriage Counseling. I learned that in regard to a crisis, three aspects must be considered: First, the “crisis event” or what triggered the crisis, such as dealing with the death of a family member; Second, consideration must be given to the resources one has on hand in dealing with the crisis. The resources may be financial, emotional, religious, spiritual, intellectual, social and mental. What often happens in an actual crisis is this: people overlook the resources they have to deal with the crisis in a constructive way.

Third, one must keep in mind the meaning a person attaches to the crisis event. Two people facing a similar crisis may react in diametrically opposed ways. One person may view the crisis event as a challenge, while another person may see it as the end of the world. For example, I had a friend who lost his job as a psychology professor. This turn of events came seemingly out of the blue. However, my friend did not go to pieces, but saw it as a challenge and as an opportunity to do better in life. Within about two months he received an offer to teach at another college that offered him $5,000 more than he had been paid previously.  

At about the same time, I had an older student who took a night course from me in Continuing Education. He taught piano at a local high school in Albany, New York. One day he got called into the principal’s office and told that he was fired because of budgetary reasons. As a sixty old man, he was devastated and confided to me that he had developed ulcers. He decided he would take his family and move down to Florida and asked me for my advice. I responded that in my opinion the move to Florida would be a mistake. Why so? I said to him, “Why go to Florida? Do you have relatives there or a place to stay?” He said, “No.” I then asked “Do you have students now to whom you could give private music lessons.” He responded “Yes.” I then said “it will cost you thousands of dollars to make the move to Florida where you had no certainty that you would find a teaching position quickly, so why not stay where you are instead of moving away?” I never found out what he decided to do.  

As we deal with the coronavirus today, I have put my trust in the hand of God. I am in the ‘vulnerable” category to get the virus for two reasons. I am 79 years old and have an underlying medical condition, diabetes, that I have had for the past twenty years. I take to heart the words of the psalmist “I (meaning God) shall be with you.” As I said once before, “It’s not dangerous to hang on by a thread, provided God is on the other end, holding that thread.”  


Richard Penaskovic is an Emeritus Professor at Auburn University. His writings have appeared in the Birmingham News, Columbus- Ledger Enquirer, Montgomery Advertiser and online by Informed Comment and Politurco.

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