The Stand

Ethan Chen

When I received email from Professor Linda Bakke, she asked me what I thought about The Stand, a novel written by the master of horror, Stephen King. Knowing my interest in horror fiction, she gave me the book at the end of fall semester 2019. Based on the current situation with COVID19 and with respect to what he wrote in the novel about the spread of Captain Trips (a nickname for the constantly-shifting antigen virus that exterminates 99.4% of the human population in The Stand) (Stephen King,Wiki Fandom: https://stephenking.fandom.com/wiki/Captain_Trips) I hope, King isn’t a good prophet, otherwise it’s not a good end for the world.

In the story, Captain Trips is a biological weapon developed under a top-secret government experiment called Project Blue. One man realizes that Captain Trips has been released throughout the underground compound where Project Blue is taking place. He narrowly escapes with his wife and child. They escape for Texas spreading the virus along the way. This selfish behavior led to the outbreak. When the government discovered the result of the “death trip” to Texas, it was too late. Their attempts to cover up the release of the virus fails, as does their attempts to stop it.

It looks like a kind of forecast. King predicted what would happen today as COVID-19 wreaks havoc around the world. On 10 April, 1.7 million COVID-19 cases and 100, 000 deaths had been confirmed. As King describes in the novel, the world is in crisis. As early as December 2019, the COVID-19 outbreak had been detected in China. For other countries, there was plenty of time to prepare as they witnessed how COVID19 ravaged China…Yet…they wasted time to act and mocked China’s response to COVID – 19. Ridiculing China for its poor medical facilities and so-called “inhumane” decisions. Now their mockery and ridicule are more like carrying large stones that they let fall on their own feet.

England, The Empire on which the Sun never sets, believes herd immunity can help them get through the COVID -19 outbreak. A few weeks later their prime minister, who advocated for herd immunity, now in an ICU with COVID19. A report by Imperial College estimated that in a worst-case scenario, nearly 55,000 people will die in a single day if the government continues to rely on herd immunity. We don’t know if herd immunity will work or not, but we know it will be at the cost of human life. Some directly from the folly of cynicism and disregard as they are told to inject disinfectant to kill the virus.

“Those in authority must retain the public’s trust. The way to do that is to distort nothing, to put the best face on nothing, to try to manipulate no one. Lincoln said that first, and best. Leadership must make whatever horror exists concrete. Only then will people be able to break it apart. (John M. Barry, The Great Influenza, page 462)”

Governments hid the truth about the COVID19 outbreak, they thought it wasn’t a big deal. They didn’t realize the seriousness of the matter until a massive infection emerged. Some parts of the world even adopted the self-deception: “if we don’t test, then we don’t have any infection in our land.” This behavior directly contributes to the spread of the virus and results in the number of infections increasing dramatically. A small leak will sink a great ship. Hiding the truth and ignoring the epidemic are canon blasts to the hull.

It hard to order people in the United States to stay home, especially in California. No one wants to deny California sunshine. However, the grim situation shows that going back to “normal” is going to take some time still. The confirmed positive cases in CA keep flattening as a result of strident orders to Shelter-In but there are residents protesting for the reopening of their cities. Though the infection curve is trending up again some protesters have this to say:

“Prolonged lockdown is slavery.”

“I risk my life today, it’s fine, it’s China’s white dream to hurt our nation.”

 “It’s about our liberty, brother (a man says coughing).”

“Social distancing equals communism.”

“COVID-19 is a lie.”

Some of them argued that “Why is the governor still working, but we can’t?”

I’m sure I am not the only one who thinks being dead is worse than unemployed. People need to pay their bills and live on. Protesters risk their lives to rally together, but at the same time, medical staffs are risking their lives for the protesters’ reckless behaviors. Every morning Gavin Newsom is streaming online to encourage residents to stay home. Compared to the President, Gov. Gavin Newsom is much more responsible. Indeed, people have the right to express their ideas but now is critical that doing so doesn’t cause harm to others. Can they imagine, if someone in their family gets infected, what would they feel?

I’m from Wuhan, where the outbreak started. My uncle, unfortunately, got COVID-19 at the beginning of the outbreak. Now he has been discharged from the hospital for a few weeks. The city is gradually returning to normal. Everything is going to be fine. In the end, COVID-19 will become a thing of the past, like many other diseases that have afflicted humanity before.

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