There was a knock on the door and then Camp stepped in without waiting, being practically one of the family. It’s Saturday, not Thursday. We sat upstairs and I fetched us a couple of cold ones. ‘No draught I’m afraid,’ I said but you have a choice here. Once we had our beers we sat down, rather than stand around the kitchen, leaning on the fridge and the sink, as people are apt to do.
‘I guess the age of traveling is over and the fun seems to have gone out of this world,’ I said, probably sounding somewhat disconnected from reality.
‘It sure sounds like one boring spring and summer coming our way. No parties, no music festivals, no garden clubs, no sports, no schools, no pubs, and no restaurants and no bookstores,’ Camp said. ‘It’s a calamity, that much I know.’
‘They said that it’s only for a short time, until the spread of this virus is under control, which in my mind is wishful thinking.’
‘Yeah, I wish I knew and who are they? There are so many theories and graphics, so many learned opinions and clever predictions but when we have public services which don’t answer the phone and hospitals which are overwhelmed and consulates that do not help anybody but themselves then we know we’re in trouble.’
‘How do you think how this will play out,’ I asked Camp, knowing full well that he had a theory if not an answer.
‘Locking down countries will certainly repress the spread of this virus and flatten the so- called curve,’ Camp said, ‘meaning that instead of a spike of infections and deaths, it will spread out over time, which will help hospitals and healthcare systems cope better. But once these restrictions are relaxed, the second wave of infections will commence and so on until the virus has run itself out of hosts. The classic progress trap. Once everyone has been infected and gotten over it or died or until there is a vaccine or a treatment, this monster will live amongst us.’
‘Well thanks for that uplifting speech Camp. I fail to see the upside of this. You mean everyone, as in all humans, will eventually be touched by this virus?’
‘I believe so.’
‘Is that what happened during the Spanish flu? It just ran its course, killed a few million and the ones that lived and were exposed to it developed antibodies?’ I asked.
‘We shouldn’t compare the two,’ Camp shook his head. The influenza pandemic of a 100 years ago attacked mostly young people whereas this covid-19 goes after the elderly and sick first,’ Camp said.
‘I suppose we have better healthcare, communications, research and development and are a more robust generation.’
‘Yes, but we are four times as many people on this planet.’
I fetched us another couple of beers from the fridge and Clare came upstairs but kept her distance from us, practising what she preached. ‘Do not engage in any close human contact unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’s the only way to lower the spread and not completely overwhelm the health system and intensive care units,’ she said, while making herself a cup of tea.
‘Well, the upside is I have a lot of books to read, being the owner of a now defunct book store, and as long as we have enough food, we shall get through this,’ Camp said.
‘I almost wish I had the virus so I could get over it,’
‘Don’t say that,’ Clare overheard me from the kitchen. ‘It’s not just about you. It’s about not spreading the darn thing. Think about others for a change.’
Camp silently raised his beer in a mock toast as if to say. ‘There you go.’