Stephen King is now using The Stand to issue warnings about the coronavirus. The author originally did not like when social media started making comparisons between his 1978 novel and COVID-19, but that was before the CDC deemed it a worldwide pandemic. King is not being alarmist in his tweets, he is simply trying to get people to pay attention and practice social distancing. To prove his point, he posted a passage from The Stand.
At the beginning of March, Stephen King tweeted, "No, coronavirus is NOT like The Stand. It's not anywhere near as serious. It's eminently survivable. Keep calm and take all reasonable precautions." This tweet is a lot different from what he posted over the weekend, though he again downplayed the severity of coronavirus when compared to his book.
When posting Chapter 8 of The Stand, he said, "This is how it works. Heed. (But remember COVID-19 is not as lethal as the super flu.)" He then tweeted out a very simple and clear message: "Keep your distance." You can read the passage from the novel below.
"Joe-Bob felt fine. Dying was the last thing on his mind. Nevertheless, he was already a sick man. He had gotten more than gas at Bill Hanscombe's Texaco. And he gave Harry Trent more than a speeding summons. Harry, a gregarious man who liked his job, passed the sickness to more than 40 people during that day and the next. How many those 40 passed it to is impossible to say - you might as well ask how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
If you were to make a conservative estimate of five a piece, you'd have 200. Using the same conservative formula, one could say those 200 went on to infect a thousand, the thousand five-thousand, the five-thousand twenty-five-thousand. Under the California desert and subsidized by the tax payers' money, someone had finally invented a chain letter that really worked."
As you can read in the passage above, Stephen King is illustrating just how easy something like the coronavirus can spread. Most of the world has been practicing social distancing and remaining indoors, but in Southern California and Vancouver over the weekend, where the weather was nice, there were droves of people out in the sun, clearly not practicing social distancing. Parks and beaches will likely be the next things to get shut down.
In The Stand, Stephen King writes about "Project Blue," the intense superbug. That strain of influenza was weaponized by the American government and then accidentally released by a soldier who flees the lab where it was developed. After he escapes, he starts to spread the disease until it ultimately kills of 99% of humanity. So yes, coronavirus is bad, but it is not "Project Blue," so one can understand why King wanted to keep his distance from that comparison.
The Stand is fiction and a form of entertainment, though it might not be the best thing to read or watch at this very moment. There are plenty of other Stephen King novels or adaptations to watch as we're all on self-imposed lockdown, along with plenty of other authors, movies, and TV shows. But, if you want to check out at least part of The Stand, read what King posted above. You can check out Stephen King's Twitter messages below.