Author: Ethan Lou
I first came upon this book last year, I avoided it almost as much as I did the pandemic itself. I sighed at the need to read a novel on Covid-19 when we were still in living it. My ignorance came from knowing little about living with the virus.
Up until this year (2022) my country was one of the few living life as though the virus was 'almost' nonexistent. We had experienced a small out break in 2020 but all come together in an 'almost' mutual lock down that lasted around six weeks for most of us. We had turned to 'zoom connections', put teddy bears in windows for the kids to count while out on their walks, and panic bought enough toilet paper for our families to all smile our way through our minor lock down. There were a number of households that had issues (we are all human after all) but for the majority lock down was something we were all doing for the good of our country. With lock down over and the borders closed, those entering the country were placed in hotels set aside for 'managed isolation', then they too could join the rest of us in enjoying a life that wasn't dominated by the virus. We has supply chain issues and other things that slowed down what we knew as 'normal' but we were mostly surviving the pandemic quietly.
Omicron changed all that for our small beautiful country and now we are living through our first major reality of Covid-19. We are no longer separate from the world in the battle against keeping our families healthy. We once again dived into survival mode and vaccinated an extra large percentage of the country before reality was set upon us and the virus let loose in every community around our country. We are doing great in reality. We have few hospitalizations and deaths in comparison to the world beyond our boarders.
Once again I came upon Field Notes From a Pandemic. This time I wanted to know what the rest of the world had seen and experienced beyond what our media and social media had shown. I became interested in hearing the voice of a survivor outside my small world. I listened to this on audio book and I did so with intention. I wanted to hear the voice of the author who read his own story of traveling in the first few days/weeks/months of the a pandemic like none other seen by my generation.
I found myself interested in his story. I also listened to the stories of the elderly, who can remember stories told by their grandparents and parents of the family destruction from the Spanish Flu. Until the past two years I had never heard their stories - these were my ancestors, many of which had died. These stories had been packed away, not forgotten but not spoken of either. I am pleased to have finally heard their stories. I am also pleased that I have listened to this young mans story. In some way we will all have a story to tell to future generations. Will they listen? Did we listen? Will we listen again in the future? Or will become complacent again one day?
We are human. I am human. I am learning to listen to other peoples stories. We live through things together, yet separated. In some ways this pandemic has shown us that our world is rather small.
This young man's story is worthy of being read.
Visiting Beijing in January to see his dying grandfather, Canadian journalist Ethan Lou unknowingly walks into a state under siege. In his journey out of China and into other hot zones in Asia and Europe, he finds himself witnessing the very earliest stages of a virus that will forever change the world as we know it. Lou argues that Coronavirus will have a far greater impact than SARS, for example, simply because China is now many more times integrated with the increasingly interconnected world. Over decades, globalization has crafted a world painfully sensitive and susceptible to shocks such as this pandemic. A crisis like it has thus been long overdue--and we have yet to see it unfold fully. In our integrated world, events that may previously be isolated now ripple farther and wider and in ways we do not expect and cannot foresee. We have not seen the worst, and if and when we outlast this pandemic, nothing will ever be the same--not just healthcare systems but also economies, politics and culture. Decisions now--or indecisions--will shape and define the world for decades. These ideas are fleshed out through the virus's spawning and how it spread, the unprecedented measures to contain it and an examination of past pandemics and other crises and how they shaped the world--and an argument for why this one's different. Lou shows how drastically the virus has transformed the world and charts the greater and more radical shifts to come. His ideas and arguments are framed around his journey around the world, whose path the virus seemed to follow until he landed safely in quarantine in a small town in Germany where he was able to take stock and start telling his story.