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When I was in college my math professor said, "When you are in a sticky situation, calculate the odds of catastrophe. That will often put things in perspective."

About 200 people a year in the U.S. die of lightning strikes, bee stings and aspirin reactions, so let's say four or five die in Illinois from these adverse outcomes. Illinois is a state of 12.74 million people. As of this writing, there has been one recorded death in the state from COVID-19, and there will be more, but at present your chances of dying from coronavirus are equivalent to dying of a lightning strike. People aren't as much afraid of the disease as they are afraid of the unknown, stoked by media-induced mass hysteria.

But what about Italy? The Chinese have totally bought up the Italian high-end wardrobe and leather goods industries and made deep inroads into other businesses. An estimated 20,000 Chinese working in Italy went home for the Chinese New Year and returned just as the pandemic was exploding. Italy allowed them to return at the same time the U.S. banned incoming flights, with a few exceptions. This, along with an Italian medical system which is woefully short on intensive care units and respirators, is a recipe for tragedy. Also, many elderly Chinese (and to some extent, Italians) are heavy smokers, which exacerbates lung inflammation.

When going to Vietnam as infantrymen, we were charged with making out our will. The commanding officer – in the usual stoic military fashion – said statistics showed between 10% and 12% of us were expected to die. Some turned white, one man started crying, but I thought, "Hell, the odds are 9-to-1 I'm gonna make it." Didn't anticipate spending 14 months in the hospital, though.

My thoughts on COVID-19 are I am 76, and I have been through five or six of these end-of-world scenarios and we survived. Folks, we will get through this, and hysteria and panic won't help. Play the odds, but don't go out and frolic in the storm when the lightning is walking about.

Bill Klein


As Governor JB Pritzker has warned us to stay in isolation to defeat the dreaded COVID-19 virus, let us consider a historic remedy to the boredom that will inevitably set in after watching countless hours of television and reading everything we can find with our libraries closed.  During World War I and II, the government had citizens plant victory gardens to help with the war effort. These gardens of vegetables were established on quarter-acre tracts of land sometimes belonging to homeowners or farmers and sometimes in public places such as parks. Today, we have gardening on a much smaller scale for those living in apartments, condos or on small lots. 

Now is the right time of year to begin planting seeds indoors to be placed in containers or gardens when the weather is warmer.  Consider starting your favorite tomatoes and peppers from seed now.  Some stores sell seeds and gardening supplies as well as groceries.  For those with internet access, explore numerous sites such as Seed Savers Exchange for heirloom seed varieties, or Johnny's Seeds, Burpee, etc. to order seeds, seed-starting mix and other items that spark your interest. 

Find a sunny window for a light source in case you don't have grow lights.  Use containers of almost any source, from egg containers to disposable plastic containers. It is even possible to reuse milk jugs as mini-greenhouses to start cold, hardy seeds such as cabbage outside. Drill numerous holes in the bottom and lower sides of these containers so they can drain when it rains.  Then enjoy watching your plants grow.

Veronica Fesser

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