When a Number Becomes a Name

WE’VE ALL SEEN THE STATS.

As of this writing: Nearly 18 million cases in the United States and 317,000 deaths. My home state of California is breaking records every day. ICU space is at 0% here with no improvement in sight.

This is horrible and sad. But for most people that’s where it ends — we give our thoughts and prayers and then go back to wondering when we can eat inside a restaurant again.

Because at the proverbial end of the day these are just numbers. It’s math, and if there’s one thing Americans can agree on, it’s that most of us suck at math.

Numbers are cold, impersonal. The numbers for Covid are downright incomprehensible, so much so that some wonder whether all the precautions and protocols add up to making any difference.

The numbers don’t mean anything — until a number becomes a name.

When you can put a face on a statistic, it’s different. It’s personal. Because if it happens to someone you know, then it can happen to you.

I don’t see numbers anymore. Instead I see a colleague juggling childcare and work while his spouse is quarantined with symptoms. I see relatives in the hospital, a close friend smiling despite the breathing tubes.

The numbers now have faces and families, people I know and care about. Before this latest surge I felt sympathy, but now I feel fear. And I feel anger toward those who can’t see past the numbers, if they even believe those numbers in the first place.

No, a mask isn’t perfect. No, closing restaurants and gyms won’t stop every case. But doing something is better than nothing, and doing nothing means you are a selfish piece of shit. You aren’t a patriot, you are just an asshole without a mask.

Go watch a friend or relative fight for their life because of your bullshit conspiracy theories, and then tell me how your “rights” are more important. I’m sure everyone at the funeral will love to hear your Ted Talk on civil liberties.

This will get worse before it gets better. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do all we can to protect ourselves and each other. The virus wants to treat us all like numbers — it’s up to us to treat each other like human beings.

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3 Responses to When a Number Becomes a Name

  1. Carol Seelig Eastman says:

    Bravo! And FU to all the selfish people walking around without masks with total disregard for others – traveling to see family and friends ignoring the impact it has on medical facilities and essential workers – congregating in large groups because their need to socialize is more important than the health and safety of our community.

  2. ADRIENNE E DOMASH says:

    I’m with you 100% on this one Gary.
    I’ve been scared for quite some time and wish everyone would take this more seriously but sadly, a large percentage of the country are pieces of shit as you say. Stay safe!

  3. Masako Popick says:

    So far, the best piece from you, GG! I feel exactly what you are feeling, a disappointment in people who don’t wear masks… l have surpassed the anger long ago. Yes, now that these stats have names: Shellie Halprin and Len Popick. It’s really scary.

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