Are We Humans or Imbeciles? Yes We Are

Grocery store lines and panic buying have marked the first full week of “social distancing” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But they are not the result of any present or looming shortages, simply a surge in panic buying.

The business web site Morning Brew reported yesterday “producers are already rejiggering strategies” to adjust to the heightened demand.

  • Plants that once made items exclusively for (now-mostly closed) restaurants and school cafeterias have pivoted to supply grocery stores.
  • Many producers are rerouting trucking fleets, keeping plants open overtime and on weekends, and hiring temp workers.

Social distancing, or physical distancing has also closed gyms, putting people off their exercise regimens at a time when exercise could be even more important.


An article Friday by Tamara Hew-Butler, Associate Professor of Exercise and Sports Science and Mariane Fahlman, Professor of Kinesiology, Health and Sport Studies at Wayne State University said exercise can reduce stress, but has also been shown to boost the immune system. The key, they wrote, is “mild to moderate” exercise which was seen to reduce the risk of dying during the Hong Kong flu outbreak in 1998. A study performed on 24,656 Chinese adults who died during the outbreak showed those who did no exercise or too much exercise (more than five days per week) were at greatest risk of dying.

What about after you are infected but before you show symptoms? More limited data there also shows moderate exercise (20-30 minutes a day) improves your chance of surviving. So while we “shelter in place” we should find a way to be more active than simply strengthening our grip on the Netflix button of our remote control.

Last week I wondered, if any of those continuing UFO sightings were real, what would aliens make of the way we are handling COVID-19? Is there really intelligent life on earth? So far, we are acquitting ourselves fairly well, but there are some astounding outliers that keep this thought experiment from being an easy call.

UFO or Ultimate Frisbee Object? You Be The Judge

In France one public official called people “imbeciles” for openly defying public health orders to stay home. No more perfect word, Monsieur.

Today came word that some German young people may be deliberately coughing on old people in the streets, mocking “social distancing.” Your mothers would be so proud.

In Italy more than 700 people died on a day this week when more than 9,200 people were cited for defying COVID-19 quarantine. 400 had died the day before. Is the cappuccino really that good?

Then there are these people—the infamous Spring Breakers in Florida:

Or the “ultra-wealthy” who last week were trying to get first dibs on any early corona virus vaccine. This week? They are said to be trying to secure personal ventilators for themselves. They are not yet sick, and would be taking a machine off the market while in serious need by medical facilities treating the critically ill. (Expletive deleted)

Or poor Baltimore Mayor Jack Young, who, according to WJZ television actually had to urge his residents to “put down their guns, stay home and stop shooting each other, because the hospital beds are needed for corona virus cases.” I am NOT kidding.

The astronauts currently aboard the International Space Station may have said it best. They have delayed their return to earth, in part to avoid the possibility of a new crew bringing COVID-19 to orbit where treatment would be difficult and help far away. “Our quarantine,” they said, “has a better view.”

Richard A. Lee is the author of the technothriller “HIGH GROUND”

Read free sample chapters here

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