For whom the bell tolls
“Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him”
— John Donne
When we woke up on Wednesday morning, the world had lost just over 18,000 persons to the dreaded Covid-19 virus. By the time we had rested our heads down on Wednesday evening, that number had surpassed 21,000 persons.
By the time you are reading this, we may, unfortunately, have reached near 30,000 casualties — the most hard-hit countries being Italy, China, Spain, Iran, France and the United States.
In New York City, 46 per cent of the victims are between the ages of 18 and 44, with 62 per cent being male.
More than 200 officers in the New York Police Department have contracted the virus.
In Britain, the Government has recently prepared two large morgues for the eventuality of mass casualties.
In Italy, the death rate is such that families are not allowed to see their loved ones after they have passed.
Undertakers are not allowed to dress the deceased and the burials are often in mass graves. Such is the nature of this global pandemic.
Closer to home, to the south of us, several of our sister islands have joined the ranks of countries recording persons with the virus:
Trinidad & Tobago 65 cases
Jamaica 26 cases
Barbados 18 cases
Cayman Islands 8 cases
St Kitts & Nevis 2 cases
British Virgin Islands 2 cases
Montserrat 2 cases
Turks & Caicos Islands 1 case
In total, in the Caribbean region there are now nearly 1,000 reported cases.
The Dominican Republic has almost 500 cases and imposed a two-week night-time curfew.
In our fellow Overseas Territories of Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos Islands and British Virgin Islands, the respective governments have been forced to impose curfews to cut down on the possibility of community transmissions.
Across the world and the Atlantic/Caribbean region, human beings have had to individually and collectively adjust to the “new norms”.
To gauge the variety of changes, I recently asked the following question on Facebook: “What have we learnt from Covid-19?”
Here are some of the replies:
• “Businesses are learning that they can partially or fully adapt to employees working from home or remote locations. Hence, a potentially lowering of overheads.”
• “Internet service is as essential as electricity and running water.”
• “There should be dedicated shopping times for seniors only.”
• “Suddenly, there are lots of things being offered for free online. Why wasn't it free before?”
• “Online grocery shopping will become the norm.”
• “Governments and oppositions around the world, should work in unison, not just for this virus, but for the impending effects of climate change.”
• “We now have greater appreciation of teachers and medical professionals.”
On Wednesday, I took my overly energetic granddaughter Kree for a walk around the neighbourhood. Quite a few neighbours were out in their yards. At each house, we stopped to speak to either one of the elders or someone I had grown up with.
At one particular gate, there were a few children.
Almost instinctively, Kree wanted to join them to play. In today's new norm, I had to, much to her disappointment, grab her arm and prevent her from doing so.
It was at that moment that it became crystal clear that our survival instincts had now morphed into rejecting human contact. Well, at least in the physical form.
Reach out and touch someone
I would encourage all elected and appointed officials to put aside a day or two to pick up a phone and call all of your constituents.
Those who voted for you and, more importantly, those who did not vote for you.
Start with those 60 and older; they are the ones most likely at home alone and in need of human interaction.
Then call all others on your list.
In these unprecedented times that we all face, we need to show our people, all of our people, that although we may not be able to hug them or bump fists with them, we are here for them through this crisis.
The crisis, which by the time you have finished reading this, will have claimed more lives globally.
More persons whose families will never get to say a final goodbye.
The next time you think that it could not happen to you, or someone you come into contact with, think about the 500,000 persons worldwide afflicted with Covid-19.
Bermuda, stay strong, stay vigilant and stay at home. By doing so, you ensure that the bell does not toll for you or a loved one.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org