Chances are, if you are a human on the planet Earth, you've recently spent four to six weeks (or more) in some type of quarantine — self-imposed, government-mandated or a combination of both. Unless, of course, you're a health care worker, essential employee or have other extenuating circumstances that meant you couldn't safely lock yourself away at home while figuring out what household textile to use as makeshift toilet paper or whether to binge Tiger King or Love Is Blind first.
So why has the entire world come to a collective halt? Because we have no immunity to the novel coronavirus COVID-19, a highly contagious and what seems to be highly deadly (to certain people) respiratory illness that has overwhelmed hospitals across the world, infecting more than 3.1 million people and killing more than 227,000 since January, according to Johns Hopkins University. There's no real treatment (no, you cannot inject yourself with disinfectant or beams of light, despite the president's suspicions) and no vaccine, although scientists, medical professionals, researchers and Bill Gates are scrambling to find both.
In the meantime, social distancing has been a stop-gap measure to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and "flatten the curve," everyone's favorite phrase for using isolation to decrease the amount of humans infected with the virus to avoid inundating the health care system and killing everyone.
So, yes, we did acquire a new viral vocabulary during quarantine, but what else have we learned in the midst of this global pause? And what meaningful lessons about empathy, resilience and our shared humanity will we take with us as we move forward — masked and hand-sanitized — into the future? Other than to be a better person and never take restaurants for granted again...
1. What six feet apart actually looks like.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people practice social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19, which basically means standing six feet apart from each other so you can't spew infected goo droplets onto other people. But "six feet" is a difficult concept to understand for those with no spatial awareness. So here are things that take up six feet: two normal dogs standing nose to tail, two grocery carts, a dude in a top hat laying on the ground, a dining room table, a bathtub, three arm spans and six-fifths Danny DeVitos.
2. There are multiple names for the same disease.
The novel coronavirus, in the same family as SARS and MERS, goes by COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2. And it went by a third name — the "Chinese virus" — but President Trump decided to stop using the term, which he coined, in late March after many pointed out it was pretty racist. Although, to be fair, the 1918 flu pandemic is still called the "Spanish flu," and one can imagine several Spanish people took issue with that.
3. Nobody really knows the governor of Missouri's name.
Brought into stark relief during this public health crisis is the fact that, actually, nobody really seems to know the name of the governor of Missouri. There are a couple of prominent guesses: Mike "Parson," maybe, or perhaps Mike "Parsons"? Maybe it's "Mikes"? In any case, given the fact he hasn't really done much — even in the face of a global pandemic — and nobody voted him into office anyway, it seems unlikely people are going to get to the bottom of this anytime soon.
4. We should all be very grateful for all that we have in life.
Even if you get COVID-19, if you have access to any kind of health care you are already doing better than much of the world.
5. The literal shape of COVID-19.
It looks like a Koosh ball or the iPhone germ emoji.
6. What a pangolin is.
These cute-ass scaly anteaters are thought to have been an intermediate host for COVID-19, which may have jumped from bat to pangolin to human in a wet market in Wuhan, China — where the virus originated. In light of the pandemic, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture recently released a list of approved terrestrial animals that can be used for food; pangolins did not make an appearance. So it seems best to avoid eating them. Or bats. Or humans.
7. How to not touch our faces.
Don't. That's how germs get into your body.
8. To always have at least two weeks' worth of toilet paper.
Do. That's how you clean your butt.
9. Every song with a 20-second chorus.
"Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others," says the CDC. And the best way to keep your digits disease free is to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds — or the time it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice — over and over and over again throughout the day. So while the public was discovering the importance of timed hygiene, and the mind-numbing repetition of singing happy birthday to themselves, they also uncovered every other song with a 20-second chorus to break up the monotony of bathroom karaoke. The next time you wash your hands, trying singing the chorus to Dolly Parton's "Jolene," "Queen's We Will Rock You," Beyonce's "Love on Top," Prince's "Raspberry Beret," Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide," Toto's "Africa," Lizzo's "Truth Hurts," or The Knack's "My Sharona (corona)."
10. Everyone in the world has an acoustic guitar.
And their tip jar is in the comments.
11. The virus has exposed racial disparities in the U.S.
The coronavirus has had a disproportionate impact on the African American community. In Michigan, for example, the group makes up 13.6 percent of the population but one-third of the state's coronavirus cases and 41 percent of its deaths. In St. Louis, the city's first thirteen deaths were all black people. Generations of racist housing and economic practices have trapped many black people in economically depressed neighborhoods, where residents are far more likely to have pre-existing health conditions like diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. A disproportionate number of lower-income residents also work in the service industry, where employees are in close contact with the public.
12. All of our friends' streaming passwords.
13. How to kill a man using a tiger and sardine oil.
14. Tigers can catch the coronavirus.
So can lions. Eight big cats at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19 after contracting it from a zoo staffer.
15. House cats can also catch the coronavirus.
Two pet felines in New York state tested positive for coronavirus in late April after most likely getting it from humans. The CDC now recommends the same social distancing protocols for animals as they do for people. No more cat parties.
16. What the inside of every late night show host and TV anchor's house looks like.
Jimmy Fallon has a slide.
17. WTF Zoom is.
And how to turn yourself into a talking potato.
18. New official south St. Louis County motto: Give me burnouts or give me death.
South county made the news for one of the most south-county reasons ever in April after crowds gathered in droves at Ronnie's Plaza in Sappington to do a bunch of burnouts in the shadow of a TGI Fridays, despite stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines meant to slow the spread of coronavirus. Cops watched on, directing traffic as gearheads peeled off burnie after burnie, with many in the crowd actually standing in front of the cars as they did so. Basic survival skills may be lacking here, but would you get a load of all that tire smoke?! Majestic.
19. That we will never complain about having to wait two hours for a table at a restaurant again.
Remember eating at restaurants?