A spreading message about COVID-19

Column by Michael Alcorn
Posted 3/25/20

Here’s how this works: Rudy Gobert is a professional basketball player for the Utah Jazz. Moments before the Jazz game two weeks ago in Oklahoma City, he was diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus, …

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A spreading message about COVID-19


Here’s how this works:

Rudy Gobert is a professional basketball player for the Utah Jazz. Moments before the Jazz game two weeks ago in Oklahoma City, he was diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus, COVID-19. Immediately, both the Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball teams were placed in quarantine.

In the two weeks prior to Rudy Gobert’s diagnosis, the Utah Jazz played at the Toronto Raptors, at the Detroit Pistons, at the Boston Celtics, at the New York Knicks, at the Cleveland Cavaliers, at the Washington Wizards, and one more against Boston, this time, in Utah.

If, for the sake of argument, you assume he only came into contact with other basketball players during those two weeks, that’s at least 60 other players that he ran into in the last two weeks. And, given Rudy Gobert’s style of play, using the term “ran into” is accurate. And, while we don’t know the exact transmission rate of the virus yet, it’s possible that anywhere from three to twenty of those players contracted the virus. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee that any of them are going to get sick, but, perhaps, they are now carriers.

How many other teams did those 3-20 players play against in the last two weeks? How many other players? That is how exponential growth works.

So, let’s say that one of those players who “ran into” Gobert went home after the game, kissed his kids good night, and then went to sleep. The next morning, he woke up, sat with his kids at breakfast and kissed them goodbye on their way to school. His 10-year old daughter goes to school — on the last day before the shutdown — and sits for a while with the paraprofessional working on advanced math (because she’s brilliant). The paraprofessional, who is a retired city worker, goes home at the end of the day and kisses his wife, who is a 76-year old retired teacher with diabetes (from 35 years of eating all the cookies her students brought to her at school).

Five days later, that 76-year old retired teacher is hospitalized with complications from COVID-19, which she contracted thanks to a basketball player that she’s never heard of.

Now, multiply that scenario by all the non-basketball players that Gobert inevitably ran into during his travels.

I’m not painting this picture to terrify you, though some of you younger folks apparently need to understand how this gets to grandma (here’s a hint: social distancing is NOT for *your* protection). And I’m certainly not writing this to blame Rudy Gobert for anything. Apparently, he had no idea he had contracted the virus, and — his careless, borderline stupid behavior at the now-infamous press conference notwithstanding — he should not be held responsible for, ya know, doing his job when he had no idea he was sick.

I’m writing this to point out something that we’ve all forgotten since the advent of the smart phone: we are all connected. Interconnected. Cross-connected. Linked and networked in ways that we are not even aware of any more, and which have nothing to do with Verizon. As much as we joke about how well-trained we’ve become for “social isolation,” the reality is that we’re still tied together. The mystic chords of memory and affection must swell again when touched by … well … touched by a virulent disease.

But our better angels are still there, just off stage waiting for their set. I say it’s time to introduce those angels and bring them into the spotlight. I think it’s about damn time those lines of melody and rhythm and fellowship and camaraderie do more to bring is together than the cacophony of incompetent soloists on TV and social media have done to tear us apart.

This crisis will pass. It must. They always do. And when it does, we must rejoin the great chorus and learn again how to make glorious harmony.

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Charon’s Blade,” is available at Amazon.com, on Kindle, or through MichaelJAlcorn.com.” His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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