COVID-19: It's Time to Be Selfish
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ovid-19 time to be selfish

COVID-19: It’s Time to Be Selfish

I’ve been stewing for weeks – nay, months – on whether or not I should write a blog post on the topic of how horribly unreliable people are. While much of my life has been peppered with people who I would easily classify as “shitty human beings,” in my new old age, I’ve come to expect it, turning on a countdown clock from the day I meet someone until the day they do something shitty.

I initially wanted to write this blog post as an outlet, because, as of late, so many more of these self-centered people have both crept in and been cast out of my life. I realized, however, that these type of people are to be expected when you’re an adult in the business world, running a company, and relying on others for your livelihood.

In my old age, I find myself leaning towards maturity and holding my tongue (well, fingers) and decided against writing a post that wouldn’t help anyone. I know right? Me, the girl who used to type freely while calling out the worst of them, suddenly decides to think before writing? Well, welcome to Jess in her 30s.

Today, however, I can no longer sit in silence on what I’m seeing around me. Today, I cannot sit idly by while people live their best lives as if there isn’t life-altering decisions to be made. Today, after 3 days in self-induced isolation, I lend my voice to the many other voices out there, pleading for rational thinking.

Today, however, I’m doing it a little bit differently.

I’m giving these self-indulgent people, the people who can’t see what’s right in front of them and who have no qualms about harming those around them, what they really need: a selfish reason to stay inside. 

Ok, first off – if you haven’t heard, some pretty scary stuff is happening in the world. COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, has taken over with over 150,000 current cases, as clearly depicted in John Hopkins’ live map. This virus, also has a 3-4% mortality rate according to current available data.

In case you’re one of those “mehhh it’s just a bad flu,” type of people, the mortality rate is higher than the flu’s, which is less than 0.1%, as documented by the World Health Organization.

While they say this coronavirus mostly affects those in their “boomer” years and above, for those who think that COVID-19 won’t affect them in some way, they’re wrong. Don’t worry, I’ll explain it below.

First, there needs to be a bit of context before I make the reasons to stay inside obvious:

The prevailing theory of how to stop our communities, cities, and countries from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 is the idea of “flattening the curve.” This essentially means, if we slow the spread, we allow the hospital system to properly treat those who do have it, giving them a better chance to survive. The image below is what that looks like.

So, how do we flatten the curve? Easy – it’s called “social distancing” or, if you want to take it to another level, “self-isolation.” They are both exactly what they sound like – staying away from other people, if not just staying inside altogether. Sure, it may be uncomfortable, and it may be a little weird, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing.


“Keeping people apart in time and space with social distancing measures, self-isolation and actual quarantine decreases opportunities for transmission.” – NY Times


If we don’t spend the time now to flatten the curve, we risk more than just many “older” people succumbing to COVID-19. If the hospitals are overwhelmed with novel coronavirus patients, those who need medical care for other reasons (IBD, Cancer, even car crashes or other accidents!) risk not even getting seen, let alone even having a bed to put them in. Look at Italy, whose doctor’s have literally had to decide life and death for many patients who could have survived, but for which they couldn’t save because they didn’t have the means available to do so. If they don’t have enough beds for those with COVID-19, there are certainly no beds available for anyone else.

Well, there it is.

Selfish reason 1 number one to stay inside: Protect your right to healthcare

If you don’t help stop the spread of COVID-19, you most certainly will not have access to the medical care you need, when you need it, during this pandemic. Protect your access (no, your right!) to healthcare, by reducing the load on the system by staying inside.

My husband and I have been self-isolating since 4:30pm, Thursday March 12th. 

Many people I know have also been in self-isolation for a few days with the same intention to flatten the curve.

Many institutions in my province, provinces around Canada, as well as in some states in the US have shut down. Schools, theatres, events, even some stores, all in an effort to keep people apart, to flatten the curve.

Yet still, there are many organizations, gatherings, restaurants, buildings, et al., that have not shut down, meaning many people are still out and about, living their lives as normal. This means the virus is still out there, spreading. More and more people will get COVID-19, and the situation will last longer than it needs to.

This amazing interactive article from the Washington Post, which changes each time you open it to give you a different outcome, is a visual depiction for those who need it to understand what happens when even one person spreads the virus, and how quickly it can happen.

So, if not everything is shut down and the virus is still spreading, the current closures are almost irrelevant. Schools, which, here, have been shut down from now until 2-weeks after March break, will have wasted that time. Offices, which have instituted work from home policies (my company included) will have to extend their WFH days, potentially risking the businesses. Stores, some of which have closed, will have to remain closed, meaning more out of work days for those workers who need the shifts for their income. Restaurants, which are still allowing sit downs, yet have seen a drop in business, will continue to see a drop in businesses as the virus continues to spread for longer than needed.

But not everything has been shut down, and not everyone is self-isolating. 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve counted at least 5-10 people on my Facebook feed in the past day, posting memes, or rants, or sharing articles about how this is all just one big overreaction. I’ve even seen people posting things like “I am still going out because it’s my right.” 

You are correct – it is your right to go out. No one is questioning that. No one is stopping you or putting you in jail (yet.) It’s not about your rights. It’s not about anyone’s rights. It’s about the idea that, if we all don’t stay away and stay inside, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

Here’s another one:

Selfish reason 2 number one to stay inside: things will be annoying for you longer than they need to be

If only some people and some institutions are practicing self-isolation and shutting down, the virus will spread more and the need for closures will last longer. Your life will be annoying for far longer than it should need to be! If we all just self-isolate and shut everything down at the same time, it can all be over so much faster.

I’m leaning into this self-isolation with this as one of those reasons. Sure, my husband and I prefer to be inside most of the time (finally, things are the way we like them to be!), but I’m pretty bummed that I had to put my gym membership on hold, that my Hamilton musical tickets got postponed, and I can’t go to my mom’s house. If we do it now, we’re hoping it can call be over faster.

While it hasn’t been too bad so far, some tough decisions are going to need to be made in the coming days/weeks. My 92 year-old grandmother – bless her heart – is still planning to have a Passover seder. Not only is she extremely susceptible to COVID-19, but so are my 2 uncles, who both have medical issues of their own. I’ve had to tell her that there may not be a family seder this year.

I also have a friend who’s getting married in May, and while the 2 conferences I was supposed to speak at around the same time have already been postponed/turned virtual, we’re grappling with the idea of cancelling our trip out to BC for her nuptials. It’s not something I want to do, but something that may need to be done. I’m hoping, however, that if we all just stay inside together, by the time May 8th comes around, we can go on the trip with no problem.

We’ve also been in self-isolation already for almost 4 days, before things even started shutting down, because I am more susceptible to the severe symptoms of COVID-19 than most people. Yes! I am part of the immunosuppressed group out there who could die from this virus.

I bet that the majority of people reading this blog are actually part of that same immunosuppressed group. If you’re not, you are reading this because you know or love someone who is part of that group (even if that person is me! 💕)

While I don’t expect other people to isolate themselves for me, nor do I expect them to isolate themselves for my grandmother or my uncles, or any other older person in my life, I do expect that those who are still running around in public, without a care in the world, might take a moment to think about their loved ones and the people they care about. 

So here’s the last one:

Selfish reason number 3 to stay inside: You might kill someone you love


Whether you have an elderly grandmother or grandfather, a “boomer” aged parent, an uncle who is getting over cancer, a best-friend who has asthma, or anyone else in your life who might suffer the severe symptoms of COVID-19, think about what would happen if you were the one who gave them COVID-19 and they died.

Could you live with yourself knowing that you were the only one to visit your nonna the week she came down with the coronavirus? What about knowing that you had a dinner date with your friend who’s in remission from breast cancer? Could you live with yourself if she got sick and had to miss chemo and died? What about your aunt who smoked for years, who got the virus from you and whose lungs weren’t healthy enough to recover?

You may be selfish, but I don’t think you’re heartless

I know that if you gave the virus to someone else, you could never forgive yourself.

Yes, this is harsh, yes this almost sounds crazy, but it needs to be. 

If what happened in China and is now happening in Italy, Spain and France (just to name a few!) is not enough to get someone to wake up and see what’s heading right for us, maybe giving them 3 reasons to help themselves might do it.

In the meantime, I know where I’ll be for the next little bit: in my condo with my husband, watching Netflix or HBO, working remotely, spinning on my spin bike, and staying healthy.

Hopefully, the rest of the world can, too.

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Jessica Grossman
  • nick castle
    Posted at 00:53h, 25 March Reply

    Very well said, so much blase attitude from people at the moment. I feel it stems from lack of information, and if more people realised just how many this could effect, how many friends/family/co-workers are immunosupressed or have other underlining risk factors and how preventable the future deaths from COVID19 are, I feel they may act less selfishly ( i sincerely hope so anyway).
    I know myself that I am terrified to leave the house, to go to the shops or to my doctors, because of these selfish people – and we only have about 200 cases here (South Australia) so far.
    I discovered your blog today and reading all your old posts will give me something to do while in isolation over the next few weeks, so thank you for the time you have spent in advance.

    • Jessica Grossman
      Posted at 12:14h, 25 March Reply

      Hey Nick!
      Thank you so much for the kinds words, and I love that I’ve kept you busy while you’re at home! I hope you enjoy keep enjoying as you read! Stay safe!

  • Lindsay Ireland
    Posted at 08:37h, 26 March Reply

    Well said Jessica!

    It’s frustrating how many people don’t seem to get what’s going on right now. My family is in self quarantine due to travel, and plan to stay that way after our two weeks are up. We want to do our part to help “flatten the curve”.

    I’m enjoying all the meals with my son and husband and am using the extra free time to finish a book I have been writing (a lot of it is about my journey with ostomy surgeries as kid). Several months ago, your website led me to an a-ha moment, and lit a fire in me to finish my book. A few more weeks at home and I should reach that goal 🙂

    That’s my lemonade out of this lemon.

    Stay well and thanks for spreading the message to stay home.

    • Jessica Grossman
      Posted at 12:10h, 26 March Reply

      Thanks, Lindsay! Luckily, it looks like a lot of the people in my area are taking it seriously.. but I wouldn’t know too much, as I haven’t left the house since March 12th, ha!

      I’m so glad my website has helped you get that book done and let me know when it’s ready t oread!

      Stay safe!

  • Jenn
    Posted at 12:49h, 22 May Reply

    What I’m curious about – is now that we’re 2 months into this thing…. hospitals have shut down many services, surgeries, treatments etc. People are suffering, and yes, dying, because of barriers to access care/surgeries they need. That, or they are avoiding the hospital like the plague (no pun intended) and do more damage in the waiting.
    Where do we draw the line? We are trying to save lives from being lost to COVID but what about the deaths happening because of COVID shutting everything else down? Food for thought.

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