Appreciate the silver-linings of semi-isolation during coronavirus pandemic

Last Tuesday, coronavirus fears prompted me to leave The Post’s offices well before deadline to finish my work from home. I’ve been living in semi-isolation in our Midtown apartment since. Strange as it may sound, I feel more fully human — and more ­lucid — than I have in a long time.

It began with a lunch meeting that Tuesday with a right-wing ­activist type. I greeted him in our lobby. We didn’t shake hands — the new ­corona norms — and strolled over to a nearby Mexican joint.

He mentioned something about attending the Conservative Political Action Conference. But it wasn’t until our food arrived that he told me he’d been in the same room as the CPAC corona carrier who’d forced several GOP lawmakers to self-quarantine. He recounted this with the bravado of a freshman boasting about the hot chick he took to bed last night.

I’m not one to abruptly walk out of meetings. But I recalled that I have my septuagenarian mother-in-law staying with us. “I have to run,” I said, not even apologizing.

Then I remembered he’d brought some book he wanted me to read. I was never going to read it. But I couldn’t be so rude as to leave the damn tome on the table. I grabbed it, trying to remember how long the virus survives on various surfaces.

Upon returning to the office, I bathed myself in hand sanitizer, told my editor what had happened and he agreed I should go home.

I said I’m living in semi-isolation, because it’s been ­explained to me that my encounter was likely very low-risk; none of us — me, my wife, two kids, mother-in-law — is showing any symptoms.

What’s it like? For starters, the experience has reinforced my mistrust of mainstream media.  Long before the outbreak, I had a growing sense that on any given story, our media betters are almost always trying to shove ideological horse pucky down our throats. But corona saw the media take this tendency to a new extreme.

Not five weeks ago, the prestige press was telling us that President Trump’s travel ban against China was unnecessary and racist to boot. Don’t remember that? It’s ­because those outlets have now memory-holed their own coverage, as the narrative has shifted to Trump Isn’t Doing Enough.

But earlier, the narrative was: ­Beware Trump’s Xenophobic Ban. “Quarantines and travel bans have a really, really ugly history,” The Guardian last month quoted a lefty law professor, with the writer adding: “Some of the most egregious quarantines in recent US history have promoted xenophobia.”

The New York Times warned of “a troubled history in predominantly white countries of racializing infectious diseases.” A writer for The Atlantic, which is owned by Steve Jobs’ widow (i.e., a lady who owes her fortune to Chinese manufacturing), sighed that “empathy [for China] may be a ­casualty of Trump’s own phobias: He is squeamish about contagion.”

Politics aside, there is the cabin fever — especially for one accustomed to going from work to this cocktail hour to that book launch and so on. Now I’m reminded of my Grandma, who spent her last two years bed-bound: We must visit our old and lonely people — after the virus passes, that is.

Relatedly, the crisis has ­renewed my gratitude for the postal workers, grocery clerks, doormen and other working-class people who make life in this city possible. Yes, they work for a living, but that doesn’t subtract from their contribution — or lessen our duty to take better care of them in normal times. Will the crisis spur a new, solidaristic spirit? Let us pray.

Coronavirus has made me appreciate anew what really matters — human life and families. The “Vanilla Sky”-esque ghost town that is Manhattan reminds us of our sometimes misplaced priorities. The normally bustling office towers and chic Fifth Avenue stores mean nothing without human life; the clamor of commerce sounds for life — not the other way around.

The crisis, finally, has shaken me out of the spiritual atrophy that is a constant temptation in calmer days. It was easy to take the Mass and confession for granted. Not when ultimate matters and the final ends of human life loom so large. At such times, those of who have faith might cry: “O GOD, who seest that we are wholly destitute of strength, keep us within and without: that we may be defended in body from all adversity and cleansed in mind from evil thoughts.”

Sohrab Ahmari is The Post’s op-ed editor and author of “From Fire, by Water: My Journey to the Catholic Faith.”

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