A hard shot of COVID19 would be a shock to our system but not in the way medical experts think.
Mendocino County is different, weirder and harder to figure. Assuming locals will respond to a deadly pandemic the same way they respond in Bakersfield, Bloomington or Baltimore is probably wrong.
Mendocino County has so many nutbags, untamed hippies and self-appointed healers there’s no need to worry about overwhelmed emergency rooms. Few of the stricken who reside in Albion, Greenfield, or the backwoods of McNab Ranch will be seeking treatment at a hospital.
It’s not that they march to the beat of a different drummer. Instead, they believe the drummer himself is an agent of global elites scheming to inoculate them and their children and force everybody to eat contrails.
Mendocino County is where marginal thinkers are the norm and fringe beliefs are woven into the fabric of our laws and culture. A tapestry of Mendocino County would display a mottled jumble of slogans (“No Nukes!” “Peace Now!”) plus day-glo images embroidered in patterns promising a utopian future, with extra rainbows.
This is home to paranoiacs wearing homemade tinfoil helmets to ward off zaps of health-depleting poisonous radiation from cell phone towers. It’s where GMOs are banned by county-wide vote, and where fracking for oil is illegal because drilling might contaminate the soil, cause earthquakes and bring icky Texans to town.
Given all this, is it probable that sickly people from the hollers of Laytonville will line up for beds at Ukiah’s Adventist Hospital? Does anyone think New Agers will spend three weeks in brightly lit rooms breathing into ventilators and eating meals of instant potatoes, canned peas and fried animal flesh on a plastic tray? With plastic spoons and forks?
Not likely. Not if I know the frantic folks who crowd the aisles of the Ukiah Co-op in search of magic potions and exotic foods to bring them more vigor, less fatigue and random acts of kindness. It’s gluten-free this, lactose-free that, and anything with biotenes even if none know a biotene from a guillotine.
They watch their carbs as closely as they watch MSNBC, and believe consuming a bale of kale is a powerful inoculation against the stresses and burdens of 21st century life.
They once read in Mother Earth News that smoking a cigarette is more dangerous than playing Russian Roulette with a loaded .45 and that vaping is a dangerous novelty to be banned first and analyzed later. Trust me, these people won’t be driving 50 miles to the fairgrounds to be tested for diseases. Or 50 feet.
Mendocino County is where alternative lifestyles are hatched and practiced. Confronted with a medical malady, whether real or imagined (a positive COVID test or a gloomy aura/chakra reading) will have them hurrying off to holistic sorcerers offering cures guaranteed to put even the healthiest of them into early graves.
In short, we needn’t fret a plague will bring staggering swarms to our emergency rooms. Many a Mendodo believes nonsense based on superstitions mingled with bits of astrology, karma, reincarnation and teachings of the ancient Aztecs. They exist in numbers sufficient to siphon huge percentages away from hospitals and into the arms of dietary gurus and incense-sniffing wankers wearing Birkenstocks.
Those with defective reasoning powers who feel the chilly winds of illness ruffling their nightmares will do what they’ve always done: consult a dreamy healer offering vague reassurances and the same herbal remedies she recommends for toothaches and cervical cancer.
Do not dismiss these frauds and quacks. They provide valuable services to the rest of us, beginning with lots more ER beds available for patients unburdened by faith in cures through guided meditation or St. John’s Wort.
And frankly, who cares if those with inflamed sacroiliacs, rebellious bowels or COVID19 seek out moonbeams and yoga studios for relief? Let’s encourage the credulous to visualize wellness, adopt a cleansing diet rich in biotenes and continue blazing new trails in holistic remedies. Remember, it frees up a bed for someone’s grandmother.
Tarot card readers, clairvoyants and cannabis practitioners should be enlisted to care for any and all seeking help. Specialists in these and other dubious doctrines will cull the dim-witted at a faster clip than even the Grim Reaper might have imagined. Where’s the harm?
Our health-obsessed neighbors won’t be tricked into inoculations at a clinic. I’ve heard many declare that “doctors only treat symptoms, not the whole body” which means next time you sprain an ankle you should also submit to spinal probings, analysis of your pancreatic functions, a colonoscopy and a psychiatrist.
Excellent thinking. We should all applaud. During a pandemic, where medical resources are stretched, clinics are crowded and inoculations rationed, we ought to salute those who decline entering a hospital, but bravely take an alternate route and get run over by a bus.
(Tom Hine offers healing words and soothing balms through TWK, his nom de plume, a French phrase suggesting a prune-based dessert with a feather stuck in it.)