In Our Own Words Kerry Werner Together Apart Hero
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In Our Own Words

"TOGETHER we can beat this thing by STAYING APART."

By: Kerry Werner  April 02, 2020

Kerry Werner is an optimist. He wins bike races. During the pandemic, Werner believes that together we can beat it by staying apart.

***This is one individual's experience and not meant to represent a broader population***

I was one of those deniers at first, "c'est la vie”, "survival of the fittest", "what will be will be" kind of thinking. I figured this is just going to hit me like a flu virus, I’ll be done with it, and then I can move on. However, over the past week my thought process has shifted on the seriousness of the pandemic. I still feel like if it hits me I will be more or less fine, I am in good shape, I practice a good diet, (unless my wife, Emily, is baking something delectable). At least that is what I tell myself because I am an optimist and it seems less toxic than digging a hole and living underground until this thing passes. Those aforementioned thoughts make me want to keep on living like nothing is happening, make no changes to my daily life and live like I had been before the virus. However, then logic comes up behind me and gives me a swift smack to the back of the head! (THWACK!) “What if you become an accidental vector?! And what if you are the reason this thing continues to stretch out and ruin the economy, keep people locked in doors, and take lives that still had life to live?”

No, I don’t think people are taking this seriously enough. The strict social distancing practices imposed by some states seem austere but think of the ramifications if this becomes as widespread as the 1918 flu pandemic. 20-50 million people died during that time. Of course modern medicine has improved immensely since then but the fact that this thing has snuck up on us, we are struggling to plateau the infection curve, and the lack of a vaccine has me harkening back to a time when people didn’t realize that washing your hands could prevent the spread of disease. So when I hear about people still having parties (that actually happened in my neighborhood this weekend), weddings, group dinners, even group bike rides, I shake my head and think “how and why?” How can people be so naive when there is overwhelming evidence regarding the seriousness of the spread of COVID-19? (There isn’t even conflicting “fake news”!) and why are people not trying harder to curb the spread?

Personally, I think it has to do with association. People hear about dire things on tv all the time and ignore it. We have gotten pretty good at it, in fact we have had to. When news and tragedy is shared with a few clicks or taps on a screen we have had to become good at processing out the things that could potentially affect us from the things that just suck but will not have an impact on our daily lives, like an earthquake in Nepal, starvation in Africa, Br-Exit.

Apparently we can add to that list a deadly pandemic sweeping the globe. Because, not all, but some, people are still going about their normal routines and not subscribing to social distancing and other preventative practices. That’s the kicker, right? It won’t matter if 80% of us follow the rules - the 20% that aren’t are going to cause exponential spread and a steep incline in case numbers and likely deaths.

I live in the center of North Carolina, in Davie county, just outside of Winston Salem. We just surpassed the 300 case mark and just this weekend we received notice of the first case in Davie county. There are 15,219 cases in the US with just over 200 deaths. I reckon statewide lockdown is going to happen in most if not all states before this is over. This is going to get worse before it gets better and, unfortunately, that is what some people are going to need for them to take this seriously.

Kerry Werner Riding Solo.

For now, I plan on going outside as much as I can (alone! Or with my immediate family) and when I am not allowed to go out anymore, I will stay in. I realize I am in a fortunate place and time in my life, being a professional athlete. I don’t have to go “in” to work. I don’t have kids to deal with. I am not overly concerned with depleting financial means (yet). However, I know that the majority of people are experiencing those conflicts and for me to act irresponsibly, to not do all I can to prevent the spread, would be criminal. While I am not religious I do treat others as I would like to be treated.

I hope everyone will come around to the severity of what’s at stake. There will be plenty of time for reflection when this passes but for now, TOGETHER we can beat this thing by STAYING APART.

About the Contributor

Kerry Werner is a professional cyclocross racer who has represented Team USA at multiple UCI Cyclocross World Championships and UCI Cyclocross World Cups. When not racing for Team USA, Werner rides for Kona Maxxis Shimano. He lives in North Carolina with is wife Emily.