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Covid-19 will change us as a species

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Columbia University Medical Center's Dr. Craig Spencer talks with CNN's Anderson Cooper about the dire situation facing hospitals as they try to treat patients with coronavirus.

Posted: Mar 27, 2020 5:11 AM
Updated: Mar 27, 2020 5:11 AM

I turned 61 last week, and am now, along with millions of others across the globe, within the higher risk group for Covid-19. Before this turn of events, ours had been the generation that had, along with billions of others younger and slightly older than me, avoided a major global crisis.

Unlike our parents and grandparents, we didn't face the tragedy of living through two World Wars; we avoided nuclear warfare during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and the Cold War. Now, our luck has run out.

With the Covid-19 pandemic striking full force across the globe, it's easy to stare in disbelief at the growing number of deaths. But the pandemic is here, and it will get worse before it gets better. How much worse depends on all of us. That's where the good news comes in.

The year 2020 will be remembered as a turnaround point in human history. Not just because many will die, but because the Covid-19 pandemic is offering us a chance to reinvent ourselves.

Wars force citizens of a nation to respond as one. When a country's citizens are under attack, they mobilize to face the common enemy. After the US joined World War II, towns ripped apart iron fences and collected scrap metal for tanks and armored cars; intent on beating the enemy, communities competed with each other in fierce collection drives. Fear galvanized action.

We now face a global enemy, one that doesn't identify its targets by religious, racial, gender or political choice; a virus doesn't care about maps and boundaries. What matters is that we are all potential hosts, irrespective of who we are or where we live. Under the cold lens of natural selection, the drama of life unfolds without moral judgment: it all boils down to living and reproducing.

The perversity of a virulent pandemic is that the affected hosts propagate the disease, accelerating the demise of members of their own species. Once infected, we can kill all who unwittingly cross our paths including family and friends.

Covid-19 will change us as a species. We must respond not just as nations fighting an enemy, but as a species fighting for survival. The virus will not wipe us out. But it is causing untold pain and loss, destabilizing global markets, and turning our daily lives into a surreal dreamscape. Our vulnerability and co-dependence are openly exposed.

Nature doesn't care about our arrogance. A tiny organism is forcing us to revisit our values, our divisions, our choices as we barricade within our homes with our closest family members and consider what will come next. We can taste the anxiety in our mouths, imagining what will happen if we lose internet connectivity, or run out of food and resources or worse, contract the virus.

We would be foolish not to embrace the central message of our predicament: that we must come together to survive, that we are fragile despite our capacity to create and destroy, that the tribal divisions that have defined our moral choices over the past millennia must be tossed aside for our own good.

We are entering the age of tribal override, the time when our species will begin to operate as one, as a human hive, working across the planet as a member of a living community of species and not as a destructive parasite. One tribe that embraces diversity and the common good.

We can already see the signs of an awakening. In Italy, a country devastated by loss, people sing together from their balconies, celebrating life and community. The internet helps, even as we distance from each other socially. Our children will miss school, their friends and teachers. We will miss our workplace, night life, distant family members, hanging out with friends.

Our global co-dependence is essential for our survival and for the stability of society, emotionally and practically. Where would we be without our health-care providers, and those who supply our homes with energy and heat, who keep the supermarket shelves full and the streets safe?

We must think collectively as a human hive, each of us playing an essential role. The first steps are simple: to be humble in the face of what we don't know, to be respectful of nature and its powers, and to work together to preserve not just our lives and those of our loved ones, but the lives of all of us in the hive, young and old, celebrating the gift of being alive.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 498560

Reported Deaths: 9939
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34150535
DeSoto31916399
Hinds31878624
Jackson24352379
Rankin21928388
Lee15450235
Madison14547279
Jones13789241
Forrest13428250
Lauderdale11944315
Lowndes10966185
Lamar10491135
Pearl River9454237
Lafayette8462138
Hancock7703126
Washington7371157
Oktibbeha7118130
Monroe6740174
Warren6656176
Pontotoc6620102
Neshoba6613206
Panola6466131
Marshall6398132
Bolivar6268146
Union596794
Pike5794152
Alcorn5646101
Lincoln5421134
George494979
Scott471198
Tippah466081
Prentiss464881
Leflore4631144
Itawamba4605105
Adams4577119
Tate4553109
Copiah445692
Simpson4423116
Yazoo440386
Wayne438572
Covington427894
Marion4222107
Sunflower4217104
Coahoma4127104
Leake407687
Newton381079
Grenada3700108
Stone358764
Tishomingo358091
Attala330589
Jasper328565
Winston313491
Clay306775
Chickasaw297867
Clarke290694
Calhoun278145
Holmes267287
Smith262450
Yalobusha232847
Tallahatchie225851
Walthall217763
Greene216048
Lawrence211440
Perry204855
Amite204055
Webster201845
Noxubee185940
Montgomery179356
Jefferson Davis170942
Carroll168238
Tunica159039
Benton147538
Kemper141341
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131637
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106328
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 814363

Reported Deaths: 15179
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1141131910
Mobile722941323
Madison52048686
Shelby37315341
Baldwin37098540
Tuscaloosa34973599
Montgomery33996725
Lee23158240
Calhoun22168470
Morgan20675372
Etowah19770496
Marshall18258300
Houston17314405
St. Clair15924337
Cullman15333290
Limestone15239198
Elmore15095284
Lauderdale14163294
Talladega13728272
DeKalb12575259
Walker11096366
Blount10104174
Autauga9904146
Jackson9795180
Coffee9182189
Dale8866181
Colbert8794200
Tallapoosa7045195
Escambia6747127
Covington6688179
Chilton6595160
Russell626358
Franklin5936105
Chambers5562142
Marion4960126
Dallas4897199
Clarke473482
Pike4721105
Geneva4564126
Winston4478101
Lawrence4269117
Bibb421786
Barbour356075
Marengo334189
Monroe330662
Randolph327763
Butler324894
Pickens314082
Henry311265
Hale309487
Cherokee300557
Fayette291079
Washington251151
Cleburne247058
Crenshaw243775
Clay240867
Macon230762
Lamar218146
Conecuh185752
Coosa179038
Lowndes174161
Wilcox167838
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131138
Greene125844
Choctaw87027
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
44° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 42°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 42°
Oxford
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 43°
Starkville
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 41°
Fall like weather has dominated for the last few days, but a slight warming trend will eventually lead to increased rain chances, briefly, by mid-week.
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WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather