Anonymous Mailbag

It’s Tuesday, time for the anonymous mailbag to arrive and show you that your problems aren’t that bad after all.

As always you can email me directly at claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

Let’s roll:

“Ever since this whole Chinese Virus thing started, I’ve been working from home. I jokingly told my wife that we should have sex everyday that I have to work from home. To my surprise, she agreed. I’ve gotten laid in the morning before checking in to work, while on a conference call, and at the end of day. This has increased our sex-life exponentially (probably more so than the actual spread of the virus). This isolation this isn’t that bad. Your thoughts?”

I think if you’re a couple without kids living together right now this is probably the greatest sex life you’re ever going to have.

I mean, what else have you got to do? You’re home all day by yourselves, it’s almost hard not to have sex. That’s why I think there’s going to be a huge baby boom nine months from now, right around Christmas and New Year’s. And 13 years from now we’ll have a ton of quaranteens rolling into school.

Personally, I’ve been telling my wife each night that if she doesn’t sleep with me now, it might be her last chance because the coronavirus might kill us in the morning.

I’ve been doing this for ten straight days.

My wife is not amused, but I don’t plan on stopping.

“Quarantine sucks. How the hell am I supposed to live like this and go without seeing someone from the opposite gender for this long? Do I risk it and escape to a friend’s house for a few hours or do I stay in quarantine and do my part?” 

I wanted to show the difference in perspectives here between a married guy and — you can’t tell from her email but — a single girl.

When you’re young a month might as well be a year. Do you remember how long a semester seemed when you were like 14 years old?

So for younger teenagers and college kids this quarantine is going to hit them harder than it is non-senior citizen adults. That’s especially the case if, for instance, you’re a college kid and you had tons of freedom on campus and then, boom, you’re back home living in your high school bedroom with nothing to do.

In addition to the specific stresses over health and job status that adults have in this time frame, some people are stuck with roommates they hate or don’t know very well. That admittedly sucks in a big way because you can’t get away from these roommates very easily now.

Others live by themselves, which ordinarily is fine when you have a normal social life, but when you suddenly find yourself locked up inside, it really sucks. That’s why I think young, single people are breaking the quarantine all the time. Yes, they don’t feel like it puts them in danger, but two weeks feels like forever to them too.

I tend to think people like me, with young families, and stable job statuses are probably the best equipped to handle this quarantine out of anyone. I mean, we are keeping our three boys in the house — the neighborhood, really, since we go for walks — but I’m able to pretty much do my normal work day on radio and with Outkick. (I’d still be able to do “Lock it In” easily as well, but the TV show is canceled for right now.)

My wife is here, our kids are here. Sure, the kids can get a bit stir crazy and sometimes we have to yell at them to stop fighting, but it’s actually kind of fun to have them around all day. That’s especially the case because they don’t have events we have to run them to all over the place — basketball, chess, baseball, dance, football, gymnastics, piano — I mean these kids have something going on almost every afternoon and evening.

And then there’s always a ton of birthdays, it feels like, every weekend as well.

With all those events canceled, we’ve been eating almost every meal together and Saturday night, without the boys having any events, we made popcorn and watched “Onward” as a family. It was actually a pretty awesome night. (Props to Disney for placing the latest Pixar film on demand). I even told my wife last night that when we’re old and our kids don’t spend any time with us any more we’re going to wish we could go back and time and have them in the house with us all day. (She told me I was an idiot, but still, I think we probably will.)

With the boys home all day and with no events to occupy them when my workday is over, I’ve been playing video games with the kids, playing them in Uno, crushing my nine year old in backyard HORSE and cornhole. Honestly, the quarantine isn’t that bad for us. (He insisted that I Tweet out last night that he beat me 48-21 in Madden last night. Kid took a timeout with one second left so he could punch in a touchdown on the final play of the game. No mercy, indeed. I felt like I was playing Steve Spurrier back in the 1990’s.)

Other than my gym being closed, coaching my kids in little league, and dinners out with my wife, my life isn’t really that much different under quarantine.

Now our schedule is changed in one big way. My senior citizen parents live in the same neighborhood as us, and we’d ordinarily see them two or three times a week, but we’ve kept ourselves and the kids away from them — just in case we have the coronavirus and are asymptomatic. I do think that’s important to do even after this 15 day period ends. But otherwise our family behavior hasn’t changed that much.

Okay, back to your question, what I have been advising people throughout is limit your exposure to the elderly or people with compromised immune systems. Yesterday Dr. Birx said that 99% of all victims in Italy, for instance, were over the age of fifty and with an average of three different pre-existing health conditions. So if you’re young what I’d advise you to do is practice extreme social distancing from people in your family who are sixty or more or who have compromised immune systems.

In fact, I think that’s what everyone should do, regardless of your age.

But if I had a serious boyfriend or girlfriend and I was home from college and, for instance, they lived twenty minutes away, I don’t think there’s any way I’d stay in my place and not be hanging out with them. The key is, however, you need to insist they practice the same social distancing from their elderly friends and relatives as you are. If, for instance, I had a boyfriend or girlfriend who lived at home with two elderly grandparents, I wouldn’t make the same decision. I’d keep my distance from him or her.

We all need to be smart not just in social distancing, but in social distancing from those facing the greatest dangers from the coronavirus.

“Let’s face it. Covid 19 is legit and it’s probably more serious than many of us originally thought.  Even if the mortality rate is only 1%, with a novel virus that we have no antibodies to and very little treatment options, we’re looking at the potential of a lot of deaths if we don’t slow the transmission down. 

With that being said, I can’t figure out the mass hysteria we’re seeing in our stores and on social media. I’m a pharmacist at a retail chain and it’s pure pandemonium 70% of the day in a state that has a tiny number of confirmed cases. It’s especially odd behavior considering that this thing barely phases people under 50. I’m sure the relentless coverage by our national and local media doesn’t help but what do you think has changed in the last ten years since the swine flu outbreak? Social media existed back then too but it’s hardly a blip in our memories and that killed over 12,000 Americans!

Do you think we could create this panic for any disease or malady the media chose to if they tracked it daily and had websites dedicated to it like we do for C19?  We lose so many more people to other things daily and consistently for years now – car accidents, obesity, cardiovascular issues, the flu, cancer, you name it. And we’ve never seen anything like this. Why now?”

It’s as if social media has just realized people die of illnesses.

And now if you say anything other than we should all lock ourselves in our homes then mobs come after you online saying you’re okay with everyone dying.

Why is this happening?

Because people are allowing emotions to dictate their behavior. And the important thing to realize is social media is primarily an emotional medium, not a logical one. You can’t reason with emotions, it just doesn’t work. Because you’ve got two different sides of the brain running into each other again and again.

I tend to be, for better or worse, much more logical than emotional, which is why the primary reason why I drive so many people crazy on social media.

Having said that, let’s dive into your question, why is this panic happening now for this disease and not for any others before now?

I think the fact that it’s a new and foreign illness are the two biggest factors at play here. I think the location factors in here in a big way, if this virus had emerged in Birmingham, Alabama instead of Wuhan, China, I think people would be less scared of it. As a general rule people are terrified of dangerous things they aren’t familiar with. (Side note: can you imagine how terrified early explorers of America were by the alligator? Imagine if you walked up on a river and suddenly saw a ton of alligators there in the water. Tell me you wouldn’t lose your mind. I know I would.)

Anyway, combine the novelty of the virus with the fact that we’re really just learning all the properties of the illness and it’s allowed hysteria to run rampant. In particular, we still don’t have definitive answers on two pretty basic questions: how many people does the coronavirus kill that it infects? How contagious is it?

Having factual information on either of these issues would allow people to make educated decisions.

The first question, at this point, seems like the most important to answer. Yesterday Dr. Birx said the death rate among known infected people — that is people who take a test and are positive for the coronavirus — appears like it will be .7 or .8%. That means 99.3 or 99.2 of all known infected people will recover from the illness.

But what about all the people — the Kevin Durant’s and Donovan Mitchell’s of the world — who are infected and don’t know they have the virus? Well, that definitely drives the death rate down substantially. How substantially? We don’t know. This is what I wrote about Friday, we have a substantial denominator problem when it comes to assessing the deadliness of this virus. Until we know the total number of infected people, which we could only determine via a randomized test of sample sizes, it’s hard to craft smart public policy.

We now know the high end mortality rate in a first world hospital environment like ours — it appears to be .7 or .8%. But what’s the low end mortality rate when we factor in all the asyptomatic patients and the people who don’t feel ill enough to receive any treatment at all and just stay home because they think they have a cold or the flu? We don’t know, but we know it’s much lower than .7 or .8%.

All of that matters in a big way.

Similarly, what’s the contagion rate here? We still don’t know for sure either. The WHO said they believed it was less contagious than the flu based on their study in China, other studies have disagreed with that finding and believe it’s more contagious.

The end result is we don’t know the death rate and we don’t know the contagion rate.

And until we know both of these facts then people are going to behave irrationally, spurred on by the fear from the news media. Now, and this is pretty fascinating, the news media may end up being their own worse enemy here because while this fear porn they produce leads to massively increased ratings, it also leads to massively decreased advertising revenue.

So ironically enough all these media companies trying to scare you to death are actually destroying their own businesses in the process. Which is why I think sanity will eventually return — and I think you’re starting to see this as we engage in a public debate about balancing the health of the country with the economic health of the country.

But until then the American public has been absolutely terrified.

How many different diseases could the American news media utilize to create this same fear? Well, we saw it with Zika and MERS and SARS and Ebola. But those diseases never came close enough to home to truly terrify people. This is the first new virus to arrive on our shores in a very long time. So the fear spread in a way that didn’t happen with those other illnesses.

I feel like I’ve been one of the few people with a substantial audience letting people know that we’re all going to be okay. But many people have gotten mad at me online for even sharing any information that suggests we’re going to be fine.

Which is crazy too.

It’s like not only are you required to be terrified, but if you have an audience the size of mine you aren’t even allowed to share any positive news at all. (I will say, however, I have never gotten more fan mail for anything I’ve ever done than cover the coronavirus. I think there’s a monstrous demand for reasonable, logical, not fearful coverage of this virus).

“I am a mom of 2 young kids, and as a result of having said children have decided to get a boob job. My surgery has been scheduled for 6 months, and is supposed to be tomorrow. Obviously, when you have children a lot of planning and help from others is required in advance. I got a call yesterday that the doc is postponing until further notice due to fear of losing his license during this pandemic. Needless to say, I am PISSED.

I live in one of 16 states left with no deaths from the virus, and we have not been put on any “lockdowns” like some other states have. Needless to say, I am irritated and feel that this was the wrong call. He does not practice in a hospital setting, and our state has also made it clear during a press conference yesterday that we are in fact not running low on supplies, our hospitals are not overwhelmed, and we are not really in a state of emergency. Was this the right call from my doc? And, am I overreacting?”

Yes, I think you’re probably overreacting.

And I say that as someone who absolutely loves boobs.

Think about it, would most people be sympathetic for a married mom of two who was scheduled to get fake boobs and then her appointment got canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak?

The answer is no.

If you can’t take yourself out of the situation, think of it this way: if a man had a vasectomy scheduled and it was canceled because of the coronavirus and then he went on Facebook to complain about it, would anyone feel that bad for him?

Having said that, I understand why you’re upset. This is a big deal to you and you’ve had it planned for six months. It certainly seems like your doctor could have given you more than one day’s notice here. But the decision that he or she is making is one that many are making — postponing elective surgeries until things calm down in the country.

I mean, imagine if you went to get your new boobs and the surgeon’s assistant had the coronavirus and you ended up in the hospital with fake boobs, but with the coronavirus too? And you had to tell everyone that you went to get your boobs done and got the coronavirus too.

I mean, that’s kind of funny, but also you’d probably be in a rough spot there because you’d be weakened from the surgery.

Regardless of what part of the country you’re in right now, I’d advise against having elective surgery.

Now what you’re hitting at is we’re trying to treat the coronavirus as if it’s a problem that’s shared equally across the entire country right now. We are attempting to have a one size fits all solution for a problem that isn’t the same in all fifty states. (Even within those states some cities and regions are impacted differently than others.) The challenge also becomes when people see that there are no major issues in their community yet they are being restricted, they become less likely to follow those instructions.

So I understand your frustration, but I’d be on the doctor’s side here more than yours.

“Two weeks ago, prior to all of this social distancing, my daughter had a Jr. High choir concert that I was happy to attend to support her. On the same evening and time of the concert, my best friend’s son was playing in the quarterfinals of our state high school basketball tournament. This kid is like a nephew to me as I’ve known him his whole life and have watched him play a lot in his high school career. A local newspaper and sister-TV station were live-streaming all of the state tournament games.
My daughter’s choir was the 4th of 5 choirs to perform that evening. When I arrived, I pulled up the live-stream of the state tournament basketball game on my phone. I muted the sound, like a responsible adult, and inconspicuously watched the game. The concert was in the cafeteria that had 50% of the lighting on and windows to the rear letting in the remaining daylight. I wasn’t interrupting anyone’s experience and the only way you would know I was watching the game, would be to look over my shoulder to see what was on my phone. 
Well, there was someone sitting behind me who did look over my shoulder and see what was on my phone. A choir-loving 40-something snooty mom of some poor kid in the 7th grade choir that performed first tapped me on the shoulder and said, “These children have put countless hours of preparation in for this performance and deserve your undivided attention.”  I literally laughed and replied, “Ma’am 99% of these kids are here because their grade depends on it and trust me, by the sound of it, they’ve put in minimal time preparing.” I continued watching the live-stream, until my daughter performed, and dutifully filmed the three numbers that her choir performed.  
As I’ve told this story over the last two weeks, I’ve been shocked to have the response be 50/50 on whether I was right to watch the game while attending, or the damn choir mom had a point. What am I missing here? How can I possibly be wrong?” 
Your line to her is really funny, but I’m not surprised someone complained.
I don’t have any problem with you watching the game — and I’m probably the guy who would have been watching the game in that same situation — but what I think you should have done is claimed a seat, checked the roster of performances, watched the game on your phone in the hallway, and then returned — with your phone off — to watch your daughter perform.
That way you balance out everything.
When you attend one event and watch another on your phone, the message you are sending, which is, frankly, accurate in your situation, is this event isn’t worth my undivided attention.
I think sometimes we allow our phones to disguise us from the message we are sending. After all, would you have pulled out a book and read it while others were singing? How about a newspaper? Would you bring a laptop and do work?
My bet is you wouldn’t do any of those things during the performance or even think about doing it.
But you probably wouldn’t feel bad standing outside the performance in the hallway watching the game on television.
I think sometimes we need to remind ourselves that just because we can do it with our phones, doesn’t mean we should do it with our phones.
(Having said all of this, I’ve watched games at weddings and choir events myself. So I’m far more likely to be in your situation than I am the lady who upbraided you for your behavior).
“Please be the arbiter amongst my buddies. One guy made a bet that the XFL doesn’t make it to Season 3. The same guy is arguing since the championship wasn’t played this year, this season doesn’t count.
What’s your ruling?”
The season 100% counts and he knows it counts. He’s just being a jerk about this bet.
The bet is whether there will be a third season, not whether the first season will be played. The XFL is under contract to return next spring. Then it has to prove its viable to play for a third season, that’s when your bet will be decided.
He’s already gotten a huge break for his bet since the XFL canceling the rest of season one probably puts season three even more in jeopardy than it would have been if they’d just been able to finish the season.
But season one definitely counts.
Send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.
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