Curbside Classic: Corona 1.9 – A Novel Contagion Sweeps the Land

images by Tim Finn

It first appeared in a country in the Far East. Nobody anticipated that it would find its way to America. We knew better than to let such a thing come unto our sacred soil. There had been a couple of earlier attempts to infiltrate us from that same source, but they were quickly vanquished. Yes, that nasty little European bug had been very contagious and had made serious inroads, but it wasn’t seen as a national existential threat. It was just too weak for that, although certainly some died from its unpredictable behavior. And we built defenses against it, although of rather dubious effectiveness.

But sure enough, a few of these novel Corona 1.9s found their way into California. And then into Washington and Oregon too. They came unsuspected, stowed away on ships. Why were there not better controls against such an invasive thing? Didn’t those who had the most to lose realize what a threat the Corona 1.9 was? Did they really think it was just going to be an isolated few, as in the past? Couldn’t they see that this latest Asian mutation was profoundly more compelling and contagious? Or were they just incompetent, or deluding themselves?

And why did these infestations always start on the West Coast?  Reduced resistance due to too much sunshine or orange juice? The West Coast was already infected by so many other foreign bugs and odd behavior, so presumably it was some inherent deficiency of the population there. And now they were falling like flies for this Corona 1.9.

But those in charge of such things assured us that would never happen to the rest of us. We have the greatest defenses in the world against the Corona! They are very big, and very powerful, and utterly irresistible! That nasty little Corona 1.9 has no chance against them. And as long as Americans believe in them and keep buying them, all will be fine and life will be as it ever was. Better buy two, or even three! You can’t be too safe. And we’ll throw in some free clear plastic seat covers for additional protection!

But despite all of the efforts to contain it, the Corona 1.9’s progress was unstoppable. Before long, it started popping up in some of the big cities on the East Coast. Even in Washington D.C., to the great embarrassment of the government and president, who had promised that our economy and jobs and well-being would not be affected by these kind of foreign threats.

Things got ugly when the Corona 1.9 finally appeared in the Midwest. Folks who succumbed were shunned (and worse), especially in the cities of the Upper Midwest like Detroit. They saw the Corona 1.9 as an existential threat.

And not without reason; the Corona 1.9 and its many subsequent mutations seemed quite literally unstoppable. Its progress was temporarily slowed due to a major direct government intervention, so that our resistance could be built up. But that ended up backfiring, as it just stimulated the evolution of ever more contagious strains. And the strains started to reproduce right in our own land. Now it wasn’t just an alien anymore.

Yes, there was collateral damage and there were deaths, some quite notable. And a lot of panic and finger-pointing.  In the end, it was futile even trying to resist, and we eventually just learned to live with it, and accepted it as part of life. The Corona 1.9 and its mutations came to be seen as American as apple pie. Of course some Americans held out longer than others, and some are still resistant, thanks to their stoic nature or inherent immunity to such things.

Yes, some Americans had bad experiences with the Corona 1.9. But the overwhelming majority that succumbed to the contagion got over the initial adjustment (and some possible discomfort) and went on with their lives. And many even willingly let themselves be re-exposed, numerous times even.

Sure, nostalgia for that time before the Corona 1.9 arrived ran strong, and there was much to be said for how cushy and comfortable things were then in that more innocent time. But things never stay the same, nothing is guaranteed, and nobody was entitled to a world without the Corona 1.9, despite the wishful thinking, posturing and false assurances. Some things are just unstoppable. It wasn’t even quite as ugly as it was first made out to be, and people just got used to it.


A more detailed look at the Corona 1.9 is here