In the weeks before I left for my job teaching English in Wuhan, in central China’s Hubei province, I worried about whether I would be a good teacher, how I would cope with spicy Sichuan cuisine every day and even whether Chinese girls would like me. I didn’t, however, give a thought to the possibility that a deadly disease—and the even more invasive rumors that accompanied it—would consume my life so fully that, in the end, I would count masks as I walked down the street, trying to time my breathing so I exhaled as I passed large groups of people in the congested city of eight million.


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