It hasn’t really affected me personally (other than elevating my anxiety levels) as I made the leap back to living in South America just before the outbreak occured. However, I do feel sad and strongly empathize with all the people whose travel plans and ultimately dreams have been derailed by the spread of the virus and it is heartbreaking to hear about those who have died.
That said I have very nuanced thoughts about the virus. I am an ecologist / conservation biologist and so in a scientific sense I view it as the inevitable and tragic consequence of an ecological blowback that comes from ecosystems being out of whack and our impact on the natural world. At the very least I hope that meaningful real world commitments towards biodiversity conservation might arise out of this tragedy and increased awareness that human health is inextricably linked to the health of our environment (I am way too much of an idealist in that regard though).
I developed quite some time ago what some would call a morbid interest in the ecological drivers and history of pandemics and zoonotic spillover of viruses and read a lot around the subject both popular science books and scientific papers. Ever since that time I have kind of been almost suprised (and deeply grateful to science / medicine) that human civilization is not being more severely impacted and disrupted by these events. In my lifetime I can remember the reaction and media coverage of several of these (some quite viscerally) like AIDS/HIV, “mad cow disease”, “foot and mouth” disease ,SARS, H1NI / birdflu, Swine flu , Ebola and now COVID-19.
I’ve read quite a bit about historic pandemics like the bubonic plague, smallpox and the Spanish flu and I think these offer quite a lot in terms of lessons and parallels to today , both comforting and terrifying. One of the lessons is that amidst mass mortality there are always great acts of heroism (But there are the inevitable evil acts too such as those related to xenophobia , racism , anti-semitism towards minorities who are blamed as being the cause) and many people survive and endure against the odds despite this bleakness.
I actually remember very clearly / viscerally that when I lived in Mexico I once spoke to an old man who told me that during his father’s lifetime the whole city neighbourhood (where we were at the time of conversation) was wiped out by the spread of the Spanish flu. I suppose even at that time without any backdrop of an ongoing pandemic it was quite a shocking thing to contemplate because I have remembered that conversation ever since. I sincerely hope that COVID-19 burns itself out before reaching that kind of lethal virulence and impact on society.