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A Tale of Two COVID metaphors

Disclaimer: I was asked to post this by a writer who would like to remain anonymous. This is being posted as a public service to help people understand how the coronavirus is spread and to encourage people to be even more careful to avoid contracting this dangerous and potentially fatal disease.

I loved Biology in high school and I generally like boardgames and solving complex equations. I’ve been known by my friends and family as an effective strategist. In order to adopt a new strategy for a new board game, I make analogies to things I already know.


I’ve been reading as many articles as I can about how Sars-CoV-2 is contracted and sharing what I learn with people so they better understand our public health guidance. Here are two vivid COVID-19 analogies/stories I’ve discussed with friends and family. They said they found them helpful to help them navigate their own household COVID-19 precautions. In order to share these with others I’ve written these analogies into short creative writing pieces below. Which piece are you drawn to more? What do you like about the analogy, what don’t you like about the analogy? If you could re-write this, how would you?

CREATIVE WRITING PIECE ONE: This Message will Self-destruct


Dear Agent 0019 (formerly Susan Brice of Springfield):


You have been recruited as a spy for the Survival Government. We are in a cold war with the Procovid Republic.


There’s been a novel virus released by our rivals and there’s no cure or effective treatment. The Procovid Republic uses its own spies and unsuspecting victims to transport the virus. Our intel believes it’s released invisibly into the air from the mouths and noses of those infected 2-14 days after infection.


Duties you are assigned to include: fortifying the community against the virus and safely informing the public about how they can prevent potential exposure. It is of utmost importance that YOU personally are never exposed to and contract this virus.


Every time you see SOMEONE’S NOSE OR MOUTH INDOORS you are to covertly submit a C19PIR FORM to Survival Government Management.




The COVID-19 Potential Incident Report (C19PIR)

Filing Instructions



Item 1: The name of the person who was the source of the potential exposure

Item 2: The contract phone number for the person listed in item 1.

Item 3: The duration of time their nose or mouth was exposed to you

Item 4: The location of the exposure including room dimensions

Item 5: The total volume of the air in the facility which could dilute the exposure

Item 6: The distance you were from the exposure

Item 7: The type of activity the source was engaged in that could have increased your exposure (e.g. eating, talking, singing)

Item 8: Draw a diagram of the air flow patterns in the room of potential exposure (include all ventilation systems and open doors or windows)

Item 9: What protection (if any) were you wearing over your nose and mouth?

Item 10: What protection (if any) were you wearing over your eyes?

Item 11: Interrogate the person listed in Item 1. They may be a known agent of the Procovid Republic or an unsuspecting victim whose been exposed without knowledge. Either way, list here the names of all persons whose nose or mouth the person listed in Item 1 has been exposed to in the last 14 days.




Complete the C19PIR FORM for each potential exposure of the source listed in Item 1 to persons listed in Item 11. Continue contract tracing all persons identified in C19PIR FORMS until there are no new persons identified. Submit all C19PIR FORMS to Survival Government Management for processing.


Management will roll a SIX-sided die for each form submitted. If Management rolls a ONE OR ABOVE at that time you will be relieved of duty for 14 days because of a potential EXPOSURE and forced to quarantine alone. Management will then take the additional information from ITEMS 3-10 to calculate the potential risk of CONTRACTION.


For any unknown answers Survival Management will assume exposure and CONTRACTION. For each contraction, Management will roll a die. If the die rolls a ONE EXACTLY: you and one member of your family will be assigned an unknown pre-existing condition and will be permanently eliminated. If the die rolls a TWO EXACTLY, you will be infected with an unknown life-long condition with side effects including trouble breathing, heart problems, and confusion. If management rolls a THREE OR GREATER you will be welcomed back to work after 14 days.

Repeat this process for each new NOSE or MOUTH potential exposure.


If you don’t see any noses or mouths outside of your household you can avoid all paperwork.


In addition, to ensure your identity is not compromised, you are also to fulfill all your traditional job and family duties before you were engaged in this assignment and any new responsibilities which arise.


You alone have been assigned duties to sustain the country until a vaccine is administered to enough people for herd immunity. The best estimate is 9 months. Already over 15 million people have been infected, and 250,000 have been killed.


The fate of the world rests in your hands


Good luck Agent 0019.


***This message will self-destruct ***








Pretend, the air you are breathing is instead water you are swimming in.


Now pretend every person you see breathing is instead a person peeing into that water.


Now pretend you are deathly allergic to high doses of pee.


Would you rather be swimming with 1 person you don’t live with or 5 other pee-mouth people?


Would you rather be swimming with 5 pee-mouth people inside a confined pool or outdoors in the ocean?


Would you rather have them pee right next to you or swim 6 or 10 feet away first?


Pretend masks are urine filters, filtering out the majority of the allergens that could kill you.


If you had to be inside with 1 pee-mouth person, would you choose to stay if they weren’t wearing a filter?


Do you still want to invite your neighbor over to pee in your pool (I mean have dinner with you)?


How long would you like to linger in a pool with someone continuing to pee into it?


Covid-19 infection is dependent on concentration levels.


It turns out you have a pee-mouth too and your grandmother is allergic.


How would you like to swim through the next 9 months of your life?





Thank you for reading “This Message will Self-Destruct” and “Pee-Mouth People.” Please tell me your thoughts, and ideas. I’m interested in potentially creating a medium post on this topic with pictures and diagrams.


On a serious note, I know too many people who’ve been infected by this deadly virus. And I also know too many people whose learning styles and behaviors don’t react appropriately to either public health announcements or shaming tactics so I’d like to find other ways to get through to these loved ones. So far these analogies (and one about hotboxing a room to understand concentration levels and another about a manhunt to best understand false negatives) have helped me personally explain what’s going on to my friends and family. I hope they help you. Sending kindness and good health to you all.

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