Coronavirus Changes Everything. - Bruce Turkel

The Coffee Shop:

I stopped on the way to the airport and saw a friend of mine in a local coffee shop. I was heading over to say hello when he erupted in a huge wet sneeze. I walked away and didn’t shake his hand when I saw him over by the cash register when I was leaving.

American Airlines flight #AA 2924 from Miami to Dallas:

I was on the way to a keynote speaker gig in California when I sneezed into a tissue on the airplane. The woman sitting in the next seat looked at me in horror.

“It’s my allergy” I said. “I’m not sick.” (that was true, btw).

She looked away quickly as if I had just said, “that Taliban is doing a pretty good job over there, don’t you think?”

I reached into my backpack and pulled out my Flonase and Zyrtec packs (my allergy medicine, btw) to prove that I wasn’t making up an excuse. But the damage had been done. I felt like a pariah for the rest of the flight.

The American Express Centurion Club at DFW:

I was in the buffet line when a woman asked if she could “…just reach over and get a fork.” Ordinarily I’d do the polite thing and retrieve it for her (by the handle, of course). But now I had a quick flash that she probably didn’t want me to touch it. So instead I just smiled and moved aside so she could get the fork herself.

Bathrooms in airport, hotel, everywhere:

Men in the bathroom actually wash their hands, taking the time to use soap, scrub their hands together under the water, and dry them carefully.

American Airlines flight #AA 1624 from Dallas to San Diego:

I’m sitting on the aisle when the flight attendant walks by. She notices the woman next to me vigorously scrubbing the TV screen and the armrests with some kind of anti-bacterial wipe.

“This is the cleanest this plane has ever been” the flight attendant says, rolling her eyes as she continued up the aisle.

Imagine… People washing their hands when they don’t even know anyone else in the bathroom. Passengers cleaning their area in an airplane and not complaining about it. Drugstores and grocery stores selling out of hand sanitizer, antibacterial scrubs, and surgical masks. The price of petroleum plunging. The stock market tumbling. And people even refusing to shake hands, resorting instead to the same greeting that just a few years ago they disparagingly referred to as the “terrorist fist bump.”

What’s Really Going to Kill You?

Our collective response to the threatening Coronavirus pandemic is as remarkable as the rise of the virus itself. Why? Because our actions are almost entirely emotional, eschewing not only the more empirical information we’ve been provided but replacing the precautions we should be taking about the much more dangerous threats we deal with every day.

The facts? Almost 60 million people died worldwide last year, more than half of them from only ten specific causes:

  1. Heart disease and stroke were most fatal, killing 15.2 million people. Interestingly, heart diseases has been the leading cause of death for the last 15 years.
  2. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) ended 3.0 million lives.
  3. Lower respiratory infections (Influenza, yes, but not the Coronavirus, btw) killed 3.0 million people.
  4. Lung cancer caused 1.7 million deaths.
  5. Diabetes killed 1.6 million people.
  6. Dementia was the 5th leading cause of death worldwide.
  7. Diarrheal diseases caused 1.4 million deaths.
  8. Car accidents also killed 1.4 million people, mostly men and boys.
  9. Tuberculosis caused 1.3 million deaths, and finally,
  10. HIV/AIDS killed 1.0 million people

Yet despite all of these ongoing threats, only the newest threat has caused us to change our lives so significantly. Ironically, more than half of the largest ten threats could be significantly reduced by simple lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, and not driving after drinking.

The best advice for surviving this frenzy? Treat your face the same way you should treat your 401(k) and your IRA.

Don’t touch them.


  1. Will Ezell
    March 11, 2020

    Bruce –

    This is all about ME!

    The day I turned 16, I took my check ride to earn my private pilot’s license. And until I was about 45, I spent 4,000 hours in the cockpit. Maybe 500 of those hours were in an aerobatic airplane with not one day of instruction. 500 hours of insanity.

    From age 18 until around age 24, I jumped out of airplanes more than 300 times.

    From age 18 until age 28 I got drunk about once a week. And then like an absolute idiot, I drove. That’s 10 years times 50 times a year – 500 different times I could have killed someone, killed myself (and any passengers), and earned a DUI. Or 500 of them.

    What made me stop? I figured that at some point, my “ticket” was bound to be punched.

    I have a damned good reason to be concerned about Covid-19. I have an extremely compromised immune system. In fact, I died 7 years ago last week from infectious disease.

    I’m not afraid to die. But Phoebe has given me the best reason in the world to WANT TO LIVE. With every example above, the odds were stacked in my favor. But WHAT IF?

    And that’s the question that people are asking. WHAT IF this is “the one?”

    And certainly that ass-clown of a President we have along with his veep crony he’s appointed as our new Covid-19 Czar doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. They’re both talking out of their asses and any American with half a brain knows it. I didn’t say admits it…

    Even those 2 ass-clowns can’t answer the “what if?” question. And THAT’S WHY EVERYONE IS IN A PANIC. They want to know if their number is going to be punched.

    For transparency purposes, I admit: I actually co-own the distribution rights to a product that kills the Corona virus on contact and lasts for 28 days. But that’s not the point of this.

    This is all about ME! Well… kind of…

    Hope you and family are all doing fantastic.

    Best –

  2. hewlester samuel
    March 11, 2020

    you are spot on sir

  3. Richard Kane
    March 11, 2020

    Per CNN this morning COVID-19 mostly kills overweight smokers … so expect a much higher death rate in the US. Seriously though this is on track to infect 20%+ of world population (R0 ~2.6), max out hospitals, and cause chaos as we can see in Italy and the shortage of beds let alone respirators. Safe bet that it ends up between COPD and Heart Disease on your list over the next 18 months. You can also measure the radical drop in particulate air pollution over China from space, and I’d wager C02 concentrations will also subside. Not good for economics but maybe not bad for the planet, almost starts to look like a defense mechanism to overcrowding and habitat encroachment. Think about other cross species recent examples HIV-AIDS, SARS, ebola, swine flu, rabies, and avian influenza. Seems like a theme. Our science will overcome this threat and the next and the next and soon we will be able to sequence and stop a novel bug in the field when it first appears .. but maybe we should also start addressing the underlying cause.

  4. Alan Campbell
    March 11, 2020

    Hi Bruce,
    So well done with just the right touch of irony and humor.
    Thank you,

  5. Dorcas Piegari
    March 11, 2020

    Bruce, you did a great job in writing this blog. It was funny, factual and interesting to read. The next time I see you, if the Coronavirus hype by the media has not subsided, I will greet you with the “terrorist fist bump.”

  6. March 11, 2020

    Thanks Bruce. Here’s some blasts from the past that were going to kill us all:
    2001- Anthrax is going to kill us

    2002- West Nile Virus is going to kill us

    2003- SARS is going to kill us

    2005- Bird Flu is going to kill us

    2006- Ecoli is going to kill us

    2008- Financial Collapse is going to kill us

    2009- Swine Flu is going to kill us

    2012- The Mayan calendar predicts the world ending

    2013- North Korea is going to cause WW III

    2014- Ebola Virus is going to kill us

    2015- ISIS is going to kill us

    2016- Zika Virus is going to kill us
    2018- Nipah Virus going to kill us.
    2020- Corona Virus is going to kill us
    The truth is FEAR is killing you….
    Turn off the TV, pray, trust God… and
    *wash your hands again !*

  7. Henry Woodman
    March 11, 2020


    Well said, words to live by – many of us are slowly killing ourselves – poor diets, stress, lack of exercise, etc. The media has created a pandemic of fear. People should be more focused on making little changes that have a lasting impact on society and our healthcare system. Nuf said!


  8. Ronnie
    March 10, 2020

    I really admire your writing. I can apply why my cousin thinks so highly of you.
    I would like to become your Facebook friend !

  9. Peter
    March 10, 2020

    Bruce, so well said. So glad to call you my friend.


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