When we talk about Covid, are we talking about the same thing?

What exactly do we mean by “Covid”?  How dangerous do we think it is?  Our perspectives might differ, and for good reason: it’s a much different thing for the old versus the young.  One might say it’s 1000 times worse for those who are old.

It’s like me using the word “cat.”  Covid is a cat.  But what kind of cat?  In terms of risk, Covid can look like a housecat or a small mountain lion, depending on your age.  And as we all know, a vast difference exists between a housecat — even if ill-tempered — and a small mountain lion.

According to Montgomery County’s Covid deaths summary, we have yet to see a death due to Covid of anyone under the age of 25.  Not one person.  Let that sink in, given the fact that we have all types of children and young adults who you would think would be vulnerable, including those who have recovered from cancer, or have auto-immune issues, etc.  But Montgomery is like the vast majority of US counties in being able to say that, thankfully, Covid hasn’t taken even one of our young ones.

This means that no child in Montgomery knows anyone in their school (or neighboring schools) who has passed. This experience, or lack thereof, shapes a person. From the standpoint of the young, we can see why Covid might look like a feisty housecat. Not very dangerous. 

Meanwhile, your grandfather might recoil with horror when hearing of your plan to buy a mountain lion — even if a small one.  That’s what he might think “cat” means, and we need to consider his perspective.  

Montgomery County, consisting of 850,000 people, is approaching a total of 1500 Covid deaths thus far.  The average age of the deceased is 79.4 years, which illustrates how the virus disproportionately affects the elderly.  According to one study, an unvaxxed 0-19 yr old with Covid has a 99.997% survival rate, but for an unvaxxed person over 70, the survival rate drops to 94.5%.  Those are still pretty good odds (thus the comparison to a small mountain lion I guess), and they improve significantly upon vaccination.  However, the odds get worse when comorbidities are present.

Nonetheless, the generalized truth is that Grandpa bears a fatality risk +1000 times worse than that seen by his teenage granddaughter.  The difference is real, not imagined.  It’s an entirely different cat.

No wonder why we’re apt to see things differently.  Even if these statistics just presented aren’t known, people often have a sense of them.  Grandpa almost certainly has an idea of the threat Covid has posed to his peers, likely knowing friends who have passed and others who have been hospitalized.  His granddaughter, however, probably knows no peer who has died from Covid, or perhaps even hospitalized.

The Apostle Paul tells us, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:4).  The granddaughter can and should be able to understand what Covid looks like to Grandpa, and how various Covid safety measures are in his “interests” —  and her interests, too, since she loves him. Meanwhile, Grandpa can easily understand the exceptionally low risk that Covid presents to his granddaughter, and he might wish for her life to continue as normally as possible.  There are enough challenges to growing up today!

This doesn’t solve all practical considerations, of course, but it points us in the right direction.  We begin by understanding each other’s interests and perspectives.  What looks like a housecat to one person might be a small mountain lion to someone else– and both may be right.

Let us look to each other’s interests!

Pastor Mark