It’s only July, so don’t think 2020 is done with us just yet

It’s only July, so don’t think 2020 is done with us just yet

You are probably of the opinion that 2020 is a terrible year, truly bottom of the barrel, and that it should just pack its things and leave already. It knows you think that, and resents it, but doesn’t know quite what to do about it. Perhaps a gift would help? Something rare, but showy?

How about a little bubonic plague? A bit of the Black Death, perhaps? And so it rummages through its pockets and here you go, friend, I collected a little something for you when I was out the other day.

That’s right. The Black Plague is back, and Chinese officials are warning residents of inner Mongolia that there is “a risk of a human plague epidemic” on top of the epidemic already being fought. Specifically, reports CNN, officials want residents to report and definitely not eat sick or dead marmots in the region. (A marmot is a type of squirrel, so before anyone gets on their high horse about marmot-eating you might want to check out the, ahem, wide variety of squirrel recipes available in this country.)

In short: The Black Plague is back, it’s being spread by squirrels in and around Mongolia, and Chinese officials are alarmed about that.

Now then, you’re probably going to be hearing a lot about this in the next few days. However, there are a few things you should know about the Actual Plague. It is not particularly rare, it is spread by rodents and their fleas, and as a bacterial infection it can be treated with antibiotics. There are “an average of 7 human plague cases” each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. mortality rates are about 11%.

While this new human case is of great concern in Mongolia and northern China, where small numbers of cases have regularly cropped up over recent years but been successfully contained each time, it’s not time to panic. Treat it instead as a warning: There’s nothing suggesting 2020 can’t get worse, if it really wanted to. There’s nothing to prevent, say, the Black Death and Ebola from both making a comeback, an asteroid being detected that will hit Earth in December, or Scott Baio getting a new television series. They’re all handled by different celestial departments.

So keep on your toes, is what I’m saying. Maybe put a bat next to the front door or in some easy to reach spot so that if 2020 begins to look like it doesn’t quite want to leave in December, you can give it some blunt force encouragement. No, not that kind of bat, the other kind. Wait—no, the first. Definitely the first. I think?

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