Before you wave it off as a bizarre autocorrect misfire or clumsy typo, or an ill-conceived respelling, consider NOVID-19’s origins: “NOVID-19” got going as a just-say-no bit of creativity by hospital workers who named a staff break room the “NOvid room,” a space that allows NO talk of YOU-KNOW-WHAT-19 between shifts. The idea took off. Several medical centers worldwide are doing the same, at doctors’ and nurses’ own initiative. Rules of entry: “1) The first rule of the NOvid room is that you do not talk about COVID-19 in this room. 2) The second rule of the NOvid room is that you DO NOT talk about COVID-19 in this room. 3) The third rule of the NOvid room is that if you mention, imply, or talk about COVID-19, your time in the room is over and you must leave. 4) The fourth rule is to try and sit 2 metres [6 feet] apart…9) The ninth rule is to enjoy the break. 10) Remember you are amazing.”
That 10th rule, hm. But hospital workers are amazing, as are the organizers of NOVID Virtual Runs, drumming up donations for vaccine research. “The idea that NOVID says ‘no’ to COVID and that even a one-letter difference can lift people’s spirits, raise solidarity, and keep us united” is what inspired Blaine Penny, head of the mitochondrial nonprofit MitoCanada, to run with NOVID as a charity name, he tells me, and San Francisco’s Half Marathon manager heard about it and got onboard, establishing a NOVID-20 San Francisco Strava Club. “I knew this was something San Franciscans could get behind,” says Michelle La Sala, the half marathon’s organizer. More than 850 runners in 43 cities and seven countries have signed up for NOVID runs so far, raising thousands of dollars toward research.
But if you’re going to run, follow my colleague Jacob Rosenberg’s rules of the road: way more than 6 feet apart. And let me know your take on NOVID-19 (inspiring? too much? a bit of self-compassion among hospital workers?) at firstname.lastname@example.org.