Invisible Links: On Contagion in a Small World (Rotary)

From Rotary Magazine:

IF I CLOSE MY EYES, I can almost remember how far away Wuhan, China, felt a year ago. When the news broke that something terrible was happening there, I couldn’t picture the place. Nor did I think it would have anything to do with me. I had no idea that what was transpiring there could affect — or infect — my life in Minnesota.

But soon enough I knew all about Wuhan. I knew that some people who had visited a seafood market there had gotten sick, and that that sickness had spiraled through the city, then through the world. I remember marveling at how this tiny organism — just a strand of DNA — could leap from one person to another, to another, crossing the planet like a frog hopping across a pond, before arriving at my door.

In January 2020, our family had been on vacation in Mexico City. Not long after we returned, one of my daughters came down with a fever so high we were minutes away from taking her to the hospital. The fever went down, only to be followed by a racking cough that lasted for weeks. A few days later, my wife and I had the same cough, which lasted months. We still have no idea if this was COVID-19, but either way, it was a reminder of the invisible threads that reach around the world, connecting us all.

Before the pandemic, I felt isolated from places so far away. But as Anthony Fauci noted back in 2017 — before the immunologist became a household name — that feeling was misguided. “The mistake that so many people have made,” Fauci said in a talk at Georgetown University Medical Center, “is a failure to look beyond our own borders in the issue of the globality of health issues.”

Read the rest here.