Bill Sweetser Shares His Thoughts

The Corona Times – April 24, 2020

by Bill Sweetser

Today, retired Spruce Pine Presbyterian Church minister Bill Sweetser shares his thoughts about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bill Sweetser poses with his dog Scout

Bill Sweetser with Scout

I can remember reading about “the flu” in Wuhan, China at the beginning of last December. As I heard more and more about this new virus every night on the news, I can remember feeling a sense of disquiet. It was like looking at a Tsunami in the far distance—it didn’t look all that large and impressive, but I knew it was larger than it seemed. I wondered if it would overwhelm us. I consoled myself that SARS had been contained to just a dozen countries in 2003 (with only 8,000 infected and 800 deaths) and MERS was contained in 2012 to the Arabian Peninsula (with another outbreak in 2015 in Korea).

But as I watched the news each night it seemed like what we now call Covid-19 (named after the type of virus it is and the year in which it was isolated) was inexorably marching across the Pacific. The virus first hit the U.S. in a nursing home near Kirkland, WA in March. We have friends who live near Seattle and they told me how everyone was ordered to stay at home. They were rediscovering cooking, board games, and yard work because they had to stay indoors; their daughters (who live in Seattle) had to work from home and couldn’t visit on the weekends. My sister and her family live in the San Francisco Bay area and we were planning to visit them in mid-March. California went under quarantine and our trip was off. And then the virus marched to New York is still ravaging the people there.

Washington, California, New York City—they all seemed so far away. And then North Carolina was put under a stay-at-home order. While I have heard many people complain about our quarantine situation, I am thankful our leaders are taking action. I have lived through the polio epidemic and I want to do all I can to stop this virus.

Having my usual haunts closed and not going out has forced me to appreciate the simple pleasures of home. Watching a movie or playing Monopoly with my wife and daughter, working in the yard (finally catching up on my “Honey-Do” list), and finding new trails to walk with my dog have all been wonderful discoveries. I have read more, watched some old movies, and cleaned out some desk drawers. Of course, there is an element of boredom to my day. But I am thankful everyone I know is well. Being bored means we are safe, healthy, and alive.

My heart goes out to all those who have lost jobs, but losing a life is worse. When I was in the Navy, I had to take pills and get shots to visit ports in some pretty dismal areas of the world. Malaria, typhus, cholera, and who knows what else are a constant in some countries. But not in the United States. Just as our grandparents came through the Spanish Influenza in 1918 and just as our parents survived polio, we will also come through this. My prayer is that by cooperating with one another and pulling together we will be stronger for it.

NOTE: Beginning earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control announced a day’s delay in posting results of the pandemic nationwide. That is why those numbers are one day behind the North Carolina numbers.

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About the Numbers

You will note a series of numbers contained in the blog. They document the spread of virus through confirmed cases by the federal Centers for Disease Control and by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. These are the official totals provided by state and local government at the date of the post and do not include estimates or cases not confirmed by these agencies. This is our effort to provide an accurate gauge of confirmed virus spread as it continues during the pandemic.


Cases in North Carolina


Deaths in North Carolina


Current Hospitalizations
in North Carolina


Cases in Western North Carolina


Cases in Mitchell County


Deaths in
Western North Carolina


Cases in the United States


Deaths in the United States

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