“April is the cruelest month,” wrote T.S. Eliot in “The Waste Land.” He penned these words during his recovery from the Spanish flu, which both he and his wife caught in late 1918.
The Irish poet saw a bitter irony in spring’s annual renewal of the earth, watching lilacs rise “out of the dead land.” Meanwhile, millions lay dead and dying from influenza and World War I.
His poem may not have prophesied the coronavirus pandemic that came a century later. But it certainly captured the juxtaposition between a verdant natural world coming back to life at the very time we humans struggle mightily against death and disease.
I, for one, am not sad to see April 2020 come to an end. And with the new month come some much-needed positive developments. Here are a few things that make me happy as we welcome May.
In a clinical trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, patients who received this experimental antiviral drug recovered an average of 4 days faster than those given placebo.
While the findings must still be peer-reviewed, the Food and Drug Administration has given emergency approval for the drug, which is administered in I.V. form in hospitals and clinics.
This new drug doesn’t represent a magic bullet. But, as Dr. Anthony Fauci said in announcing the study results, “it has proven that a drug can block this virus.” And that’s good news indeed.
For a month, scientists at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center worked together to create a new coronavirus testing facility at OU Medicine. This past week, that facility went live.
With the capacity to test thousands of samples a day and reagents on hand to run nearly 200,000 tests, this provides a big shot in the arm to the state’s testing capacity.
This will give public health authorities the tools they need to track and monitor the virus as we reopen Oklahoma’s economy.
The surge that wasn’t
Models had predicted that by the end of April Oklahoma would have had 9,000 cases, with hospitalizations peaking around April 21. Happily, neither of these predictions came true, with total state cases at just over 3,500 on April 30, while hospitalizations appear to have crested at the end of March.
We will, of course, need to stay vigilant to ensure that increased activity and social interaction don’t erase the gains we’ve made.
But so long as we all behave responsibly and conscientiously, our state’s healthcare facilities have significant capacity available, which has proven key in ensuring high rates of recovery among patients with severe cases.
Okay, this one doesn’t rank up there with the others, but I, for one, have thoroughly enjoyed the return of cocktail hour. With a twist.
As we’ve sheltered in place, one day threatens to bleed into the next, with nothing to distinguish today from yesterday or tomorrow. Restaurants, churches, movie theaters and gyms are all shuttered. Where to turn for something to break up the monotony?
Like so many, my wife Susan and I have found solace in the daily ritual of evening cocktails. It gives shape to otherwise formless days and has restored some sense of normalcy to our new lives.
Plus, through the magic of Zoom, we’ve used it as an opportunity to reconnect with dear friends. When your days aren’t filled with so many appointments, you find time for the truly important things you might otherwise have pushed to the side.
In fact, as I write this, it’s almost 5:30, which means I better wrap this up. Susan and I have Zoom cocktails with my one of my favorite former graduate students and her husband. Cheers!