The next time you go somewhere, pay attention how people react when they hear someone cough. A cough is almost guaranteed to turn heads and push people away. The only thing worse than hearing someone cough is crossing paths with a person that decides to open mouth cough directly in front of you. Well, at least that was my reality at a recent community event.
After sitting through an hour-long event, I got up to exit the room and headed toward the bathroom when I crossed paths with an older man that was holding a child’s hand. Unfortunately for me, I was not wearing a mask, and to make matters worse, the person I crossed paths with had released an aggressive cough with his head up and mouth uncovered. It was absolutely disgusting, but I was more concerned about catching COVID-19. It ruined the rest of my night.
I remember thinking that I might have been exposed to COVID-19 on my way to the bathroom and it was not fun. I tried to play it cool, but I do not have a poker face; I am more of a blackjack player. What that means is there are two responses, “holding” back or “hitting” them up. I always choose the first option as my response. The second option is reserved for very few situations, a decision-making process that involves evoking the ethical reasoning of philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and David Hume in order to determine whether or not to activate prime Mike Tyson mode. I am all-in when it comes to navigating a post-COVID-19 world and there is a lot to be lost by spreading COVID-19 to others.
As it stands, I am helping take care of a relative who miraculously survived a bout with extreme pancreatitis. The thing about pancreatitis is that it can send your body into haywire mode which causes serious damage. For us, that included a major case of sepsis, the inability to excrete fluid, fluid filling up in the lungs which damages the long-term functioning ability to breathe, an extremely inconsistent heartrate, and much more. If 10 represented a fatal instance of pancreatitis, this would have scored 9.75 out of 10. Additionally, another family member is in their 70s and they high asthma. So, if I catch COVID-19, there are far-reaching implications that go beyond just me.
The good thing about catching COVID-19 in 2022 is that we are far more prepared to handle it. We have vaccines and other medicine that helps our body fight the virus. Although hospitals are still very crowded, there are less people that are on respirators for breathing support, so there is a high chance that a sick person could get access to breathing support. However, that might not be enough for people living with comorbidities.
Although we all have the option to wear masks, many of us are tired of doing so. We want to believe that everyone will practice social distancing and “safe coughing”. The term “safe coughing” represents tilting your head down when coughing, coughing with a partially closed mouth and not the big “O”, coughing into your hand or arm, and lifting the collar of your shirt above your mouth if you really need to cough it out.
No one has time to wonder whether a person has smoker’s cough or COVID-19. It is unlikely that the world will ever be free from COVID-19 because of the virus’ ability to mutate. However, we do have the ability to adopt a new set of norms when it comes to limiting the transmission of particles that can carry the virus.