I feel incredibly lucky that Eric and I have such a great relationship. We recently celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary and decided, after all these years, to finally go on a long-delayed honeymoon.
Scheduled for April, it would be our first overseas trip together in more than a decade. The last time was with Nancy Kikuchi and the dedicated dancers of L.A. Beat on a trip to Nagoya. Until this week, Eric and I have mostly been checking out restaurants, museums and places we want to see. I imagined us strolling hand-in-hand, taking photos that would be the envy of Facebook.
And then a certain novel coronavirus happened.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned that the public should be prepared for disruption in their daily lives.
“The spread in other countries has raised our level of concern and our level of expectation we’re going to have community spread here,” said Messonnier. “It’s not a question of if this will happen, but when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses.”
It seems the next couple months are key to containing the spread of the coronavirus, but the nature of the disease and the way it is transmitted have made it difficult to contain.
What does it mean for regular folks? They say you could be asked to stay away from work or school for an extended period of time. It’s happening in Japan, where, with the Tokyo Games at stake, the Abe government has taken the drastic step of closing all public schools until the end of spring break. Throughout the years, communicable diseases such as SARS and avian flu have led to anxiety in Japan, but nothing like this.
The Japanese government’s clumsy handling of the Diamond Princess cruise ship has not exactly instilled confidence that the nation is up to managing the Summer Games if this coronavirus crisis continues for much longer.
That United Airlines decided today to suspend flights from LAX to Narita until at least April 24 just makes this crisis seem all the more real, even as there has been just one reported case in Los Angeles County. The World Health Organization reports more than 82,000 people have been infected, with over 2,700 deaths in China and 57 deaths in 46 other countries.
It’s so trivial, but all of this makes me wonder if we’ll be able to travel for our long-delayed honeymoon. Will we have to cancel or postpone our trip? I sure hope not, but I imagine others are questioning travel plans in the midst of all of this alarming news.
But it seems like the worst thing to do is to give in to fear and panic. That goes for the stock market as well, even as the Dow Jones has suffered its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.
It makes me think back to what Alvin Takamori said as he opened the Gardena Valley JCI Day of Remembrance last Saturday. He had the audience consider the uncertainties faced by Japanese Americans during World War II, and drew upon examples from our everyday lives today. What if you found out you no longer had a job, you no longer could afford your mortgage, you had to leave the life you built … all for reasons outside of your control?
Uncertainty is the one thing that we can all be sure to face in our lives. That we have a Japanese American community today is because our parents and grandparents overcame uncertainty, displacement and racism to rebuild their lives.
It’s a small thing, but I’m going to continue to plan for our trip – hope for the best, but understand that events may happen that are outside of my control. And of course make sure to wash my hands frequently. Common sense may not save you from calamity, but it sure can’t hurt.
Gwen Muranaka, senior editor of The Rafu Shimpo, can be contacted at [email protected] Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.