smile teeth mouth
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.


The year 2020 has not given too many people anything to smile about — please pardon the poor grammar — for a plethora of reasons; and the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic is the source for most of those reasons, as it was allowed to practically shut down the entire planet for weeks.


Randy Petersen and Brian Cohen
Randy Petersen and Brian Cohen in Colorado Springs. Photograph ©2017 by Randy Petersen.

The latest statistics at the time this article was written are that at least 876,616 people — or slightly less than 3.28 percent — have died of the minimum of 26,763,217 confirmed cases worldwide, according to this situation dashboard from the World Health Organization pertaining to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus…

…and at the same time, at least 880,500 people — or slightly less than 3.27 percent — have died of the minimum of 26,929,464 confirmed cases worldwide, according to this situation dashboard from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine pertaining to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

At least 187,159 people — or slightly less than 3.03 percent — have died of the minimum of 6,181,474 confirmed cases in the United States, according to this situation dashboard from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pertaining to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus — and with an estimated population of 331,002,651 people, that means that greater that 0.05 percent of the population of the United States have died from it.

The population of the world is currently at almost 7.8 billion people. Using the higher statistics from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, that means that slightly greater than 0.34 percent of the population have confirmed cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus, with slightly greater than 0.011 percent of the population having died from it.

Still, people feel like they have been robbed of a year of their lives; of milestones which were never officially celebrated; of not being able to say that last goodbye to a loved one…

Ed Pizzarello
Edward Pizzarello at the world headquarters of Delta Air Lines. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

…and — of course — not being able to travel. For many writers at BoardingArea, this year will be the longest stretch of time without travel in many years — including me. “Time seems to be crawling along, and yet it’s September”, Edward Pizzarello wrote in this article at Pizza in Motion, whose slogan is ironically Life is Too Short to Fly In Coach! “The last time I got on a plane was in mid-March. I haven’t checked my records, but it’s been at least 10 years since I’ve been home this long. I’m guessing another month or so will be my longest streak since I was in college.”

Unlike Ed, I want to get back aboard an airplane as soon as possible. “While I do love to travel, I’ve been surprised by my lack of desire to hop on a plane. I miss exploring new destinations, as well as revisiting old favorites. We canceled some pretty awesome trips this summer, including a trip to Bermuda I was really looking forward to. And, I’ve got family in Nova Scotia that I wish I could spend time with. And yet, I’m still not ready to hop on an airplane.”

I intend to discuss more about why I have not traveled recently in a future article here at The Gate

…but one of the most critical and powerful forms of communication have been stifled for months by that piece of cloth people have been wearing over their noses and mouths: the smile behind the mask.

Jim Axelrod — who is a correspondent for CBS News — said it best in this video for Sunday Morning pertaining to experiencing an otherwise ordinary trip to the grocery store.


I am fortunate that people — for the most part — like my smile; and yet, I agree with Jim Axelrod: I cannot show it as often as I used to in the past. Sure, one can detect a smile just from the eyes; but it is simply not the same as seeing the entire face light up with a full-blown smile…

…so let us do what we can to spread some cheer to one another to help us get through the remainder of this year and this current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic. Say something nice to someone. Express some gratitude for what he or she does for you and for your community.

A few words which are well chosen and heartfelt can really go a long way towards brightening someone’s day — which in turn can infectiously brighten your own day in return.

Now that’s the kind of “virus” we should be spreading to each other…

Unless otherwise noted, photographs ©2015 and ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

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