An op-ed in USA Today from Michael J. Stern last week took COVID-19 panic porn to a whole new level of craziness by suggesting that the pandemic has turned all of us into “potential serial killers.”
Even though COVID-19 currently has a survival rate of 99.6%, Stern argued that the very act of breathing in front of another human being without full protection makes “every man, woman and child into a potential serial killer.”
“Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder whether my streak of good luck is about to end, because the person in front of me in the grocery line is wearing a mask below his nose — expelling a cloud of radioactive COVID dust that I cannot escape, short of dropping $50 on the conveyor belt and trying to outrun the security guard,” he worried.
“With alcoholism, opioid addiction or smoking, we stand a fighting chance. But COVID-19 has turned the most necessary part of living — breathing — into a deadly event,” he continued. “If there’s anything that can make us hate our neighbors, it is the possibility that their very existence — every breath they exhale — could be lethal.”
As he went on, Stern warned that the potential for becoming a serial killer goes beyond the common stranger at the grocery store or retail outlet, and into our own homes with the very people we love and trust the most.
“What’s worse is the brutal reality that the people we love and trust most in this world bring us the same risk,” he lamented. “More risk, because these are the people with whom we have regular and close contact. Any sustained encounter with those we love — kisses, hugs, laughs, conversations — could bring fever, blood clots, fluid-filled lungs, and death.”
After going on for several paragraphs about how he and his partner have had to severely alter their relationship because of the pandemic, Stern recalled how deeply the AIDS epidemic affected the emotional outlook of gay men, adding that he believes COVID survivors will suffer the same outlook for years to come.
“As years turned to decades, and tens of millions of people died from AIDS-related causes worldwide, gay men rewired their souls to survive the emotional wreckage that comes with the knowledge that the most basic component of daily life can be fatal — that love can be lethal,” he said. “Despite the recent development of drugs that dramatically reduce the risk of HIV transmission, the mental toll remains. We’re familiar with the sound of a heart caving in. It messes with your mind, even when the threat is gone.”
“And so, as the world eagerly awaits a vaccine that promises to be rolled out over the next six months, the wrath of the coronavirus will not end with inoculation,” he concluded. “The way we look at our own survival, and the dangers faced by those we love, will be stamped with COVID’s dirty fingerprint for years to come.”
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