Since this blog post is about death, I have decided to feature one of the oldest and most famous icons in history: The grim reaper. Throughout history, this imaginary figure has personified death. And what a powerful image! Wielding his sickle, he “reaps” his harvest of human beings, cutting us all down (eventually) like blades of grass.
Before the modern area, which ushered in antibiotics and modern medicine, the grim reaper was ever-present, cutting down humans of all ages. You were as likely to be his victim if you were young as old. Most parents lost a few young children to his insatiable appetite for fresh crops.
In the modern era, we have gotten use to the idea that death (usually) befalls only the old. The grim reaper today prefers mature crops, and leaves the young, green shoots to grow.
Sorry for the macabre prelude. But the history of death seams relevant today. This brings us to my topic for the day. The invisible enemy that is felling so many of us, mostly seniors: the coronavirus.
In yesteryear death looked like this:
Today it looks like this:
A virus is a bizarre thing. Biologists don’t even consider it to be a “life” form. A virus only becomes “alive” when it gets into a living cell and hijacks its machinery to churn out proteins that form copies of itself.
Let me ask you this: What is the best thing about this virus? Yes, you heard that question right. What is the BEST thing about it? Nothing, you say? I disagree. The best thing about it is that it spares our children. Imagine this same virus, except that it spared our old but killed our young. Think about it. That would be far worse, wouldn’t it? So the BEST thing about the virus is that it spares our children and prefers to take only those who have already lived, in many cases, a full life.
Don’t feel guilty about preferring that the virus take your parents rather than your children (if you had to choose). It’s natural for humans to value children over the aged. Children are our future, the elderly are our past. Our species can survive without the latter, but not without the former. That’s why nature made us most loving and protective of children.
Still, death sucks, at any age. The virus is reaping havoc in nursing homes. So far, the virus has claimed 7,000 lives in U.S. nursing homes. We first knew our nursing homes were in trouble back in February when the residents of a Seattle nursing home were falling ill and dropping like dominoes. Since then, the virus has ravaged nursing homes in other states, especially New York where least 14 nursing homes have had over 25 fatalities each.
But the virus has not acted alone in causing these deaths. Nursing home administrators have assisted it. And that’s why coronavirus lawsuits against nursing homes have already been filed. Nursing homes are often overcrowded and understaffed. Some engage in poor and unsanitary practices. Most nursing homes were late, after the coronavirus outbreak, to require workers to wear masks and other protective gear.
Some of the practices nursing homes have engaged in since the coronavirus entered the scene seem just plain stupid. (In legalese, “stupid” translates as “negligent”). For example, one nursing home “isolated” the virus-infected residents in a separate wing of its facility, but the staff who cared for the residents were taking shifts in both the infected and uninfected wings. Those staff members were acting like honeybees carrying the pollen – virus – from wing to wing. Soon the entire nursing home was infected.
You can’t pass all the blame onto the nursing homes. They did not receive the protective gear and testing equipment that hospitals received. Our governmental response to the crisis was, at least at first, lackluster. And let’s have a shout out to all of the nursing home staff, most of them underpaid and overworked, who risked and are risking their lives by working in this dangerous work environment.
Still, many lawsuits against nursing homes will be well-founded. It’s clear that many of them put profits over safety. There were some easy and not-too-costly ways to combat the infection that they failed to implement. We call this “negligence”. And that’s what our civil justice system is all about. Compensating those victims and families who are harmed by others’ negligence. Yes, that’s how we make our living at Michaels Bersani Kalabanka, and we are proud of it.
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