Last week, before it had become evident how serious the COVID-19 virus would become, I had an email exchange with a cousin of mine, a retired cardiologist, who even then was predicting that this crisis would be much more deadly than earlier forecasts had indicated and certainly far worse than the bland reassurances we were then hearing from the not always reliable lips of President Trump.
In response, I wrote my cousin this:
On the virus, well, you certainly paint a pessimistic picture of the next few months here in the Bay Area. I don’t think it’s unrealistic, but I can only hope your projections will not be realized. On the other hand, I have been reading -- among other books -- a book about the European émigrés who had to flee Nazi Germany and who came to settle LA, creating a kind of "Weimar of the West." You might have read about this in an article that Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker not long ago. Reading what some of these refugees went though helps to put things in perspective. As does the situation of Syrian refugees and so many others who have been displaced in recent years. So now it’s our turn.
And consider how lucky we’ve been to have lived all of our lives until now never having suffered here from any of the world wars or anything else at all comparable to what the world has had to endure during the last hundred years or so. In that, you and I have been extremely fortunate, wouldn’t you say? And as of Sunday, both of us will be octogenarians. Yesterday, I actually reached 84 and 1/4. I'm not any more keen to die than you are, but on the other hand, I've lived long enough, and death would obviously solve my spinal stenosis and other physical problems. So although I am taking all possible precautions, que sera, sera. If things get as bad as you anticipate, I’m not sure I’d be all that keen to witness all that, anyway, even if I do survive.