EDITORIAL – Prof. Mel’s quick guide to the language of COVID-19

(Image: Lecturio Medical)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

WE’RE LEARNING A WHOLE NEW LINGO during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of it is evolving. For example, what began as a need to “flatten the curve” has become a goal to “plank the curve.”

That comes courtesy of chief medical health officer Dr. Theresa Tam, who says flattening the curve isn’t good enough, though they’re the same thing.

A plank is flat. In fact, look it up and you’ll find “flat” in the definition. But, OK, let’s stick with “plank.”

What started as “social distancing” has been redefined as “physical distancing.” Do we really not know that social distancing is about staying a safe distance away from others? Nobody thinks a virus can be caught over social media, do they?

Every day, someone assures us “we can get through this together.”

Yes, we’re in it together because we have no choice. And we will get through this, after a lot of people die. “Getting through it together” doesn’t mean a lot, though I guess it’s of some comfort that everybody’s in the same boat.

Some words will take more study. “Asymptomatic” is coming up a lot in recent days. “Intubation” gives us the willies just thinking about it.

And, by now we all know what an “N95” mask is — at least, that it’s a good one. “PPE” sounds a little like going Number One but it stands for “Personal Protective Equipment.”

Throw in “presumptive,” “zoonotic,” “quarantine” vs. “self-isolation,” “epidemic” vs. “pandemic,” and it’s getting to the point where we need a crib sheet just to watch the news.

If only we could hear the words “toilet paper,” “wipes” and “sanitizer” less often. But here are two words we’d love to hear: “Mission accomplished.” When we hear that, we’ll know we’ve planked the curve.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8318 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – Prof. Mel’s quick guide to the language of COVID-19

  1. Heather Starchuk // April 11, 2020 at 1:04 PM // Reply

    Why are they down-playing the fact that although men and women seem to be contracting the disease in near equal proportion, nearly twice the number of men are dying from this virus than women? Our own government is releasing the number of reported cases contracted by gender, but I cannot find anything on mortality rates by gender. Men need to be warned. Can you dig up the stats Mel?

  2. Deborah Johnson // April 9, 2020 at 9:34 AM // Reply

    Thanks for your posts, as always, entertaining!

    I’d like to extend kudos to the lottery corp. for making it impossible to buy extra draws!! So now we must present ourselves at the store for every single draw, even the 30$ weekly option has stopped. Forget people who purchase a months worth, or heavens, the 6 that had previously been available. We wouldn’t want the computers to catch it!!

    most sincerely, Deborah Johnson

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