COVID-19

[This whole thing – which I’ve taken to calling The Current Unpleasantness – is a new phenomenon, so I’ve added some edits and remarks five weeks later.]

What a strange time we live in! It’s hard to imagine that anything could trump Trump for I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening-surrealness but here we are. [Five weeks: Trump has managed to trump himself – his performance during the pandemic has been stupendously bad.]

So many unknowns; so many dire predictions based on scant data.

– It’s not that bad, some say. Most people only get mild symptoms and recover. Yeah, but mortality seems to be much worse than for the seasonal flu, something many people were comparing it to early on. And no one has immunity yet. [Five weeks: some disturbing reports that people who have recovered from CV-19 may not be immune as is generally the case with virus infections. Yikes.]

– Warm weather will knock it down as it does with the flu. Yeah, but some experts say the warm weather thing is a myth. What really knocks down the flu in late spring is herd immunity from all the people who eventually get vaccinated and those that recover from getting it in the winter. So expecting this coronavirus to die off in the summer may be wishful thinking. [Five weeks: this has not been discussed much by the experts.]

– Isolate, isolate, isolate! No doubt this is what we need to do but with some of the predictions of the longevity of the crisis, we are in for a long summer. Meanwhile, the economy tanks and people lose their livelihoods. Moreover, once the first peak of cases tapers off, lifting the mandatory isolation protocols will likely result in a new (albeit smaller) peak. Maybe more after that. [Five weeks: Yeah, about that isolation business. Most states were fairly responsible in locking down but a few, not so much. Looking at you Governor Kemp of Georgia. He was among the last to do so, incredibly claiming during a press conference well into the pandemic that he ‘only just learned’ that non-symptomatic people can spread the virus. Ya think, Governor? What an idiot. This week, Kemp has ordered the restrictions loosened for many businesses, including massage parlors and hair salons. Try six feet distancing with that. Again, what an idiot.]

– Right now, early on in the pandemic, essentials such as food, water and electricity are still available. But how long will that last? Food production is dependent on people doing food production jobs. If they start getting sick? How about transporting food? Truckers aren’t immune to COVID-19. If this thing lasts over a year or more (as some are warning it might), what of our essential services? Electric power plants and transmission grids need people to operate. Same with water systems. What if we have another devastating wildfire season? Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Will we have the resources to deal with it? [Five weeks: no major disruptions of essential services, including food production and sale. Grocery stores are still pretty well stocked. You can even find TP! The oil industry has completely tanked however. Demand for gasoline has plummeted. There are dozens – maybe hundreds – of oil tankers parked outside harbors, fully laden, with nowhere to discharge their cargo.]

– And what of the healthcare workers? Can you imagine working in one of our way too few hospitals dealing with an overflow of critically ill patients for months on end? Months and months of wearing a respirator? Months and months of watching people die because there aren’t enough ventilators? Some of the doctors and nurses will get sick too, reducing their numbers and making the situation more dire. [Five weeks: My god, those poor folks. I can’t imagine. Not only are hospitals in the more seriously hit places (NYC) totally overwhelmed, but for nurses and doctors to continue at this pace is unimaginable. Their living situations must be horrific.]

It’s early yet. Here in Oregon, the state this week mandated closing restaurants and bars to only takeout (which means really, closing the bars). Schools are all closed. All except small public events are cancelled. Elsewhere, like San Francisco and Orange County, mandatory stay-at-home isolation has been ordered. These are drastic and probably necessary measures. I expect more to come. [Five weeks: nothing really more has hit in the way of restrictions other than more states getting onboard. The take-out business is thriving, including with a lot of bars.]

It sure seems like the End Times [The Current Unpleasantness]. If this continues into the fall, I fully expect Trump to declare the election postponed. We’ll see how the country reacts to that. [Five weeks: Joe Biden has become the presumptive Democratic nominee and he’s lately been warning that Trump will try to do something to delay the election. Every reputable source and scholar has stated unequivocally that he doesn’t have that power. Congress does, though. Can’t see them delaying the election with Nancy Pelosi protecting our interests. Still, Trump is Trump. He’ll try something.]

Maybe we need to stock up on ammo instead of toilet paper. [Five weeks: yes.]

[Five weeks: Probably the biggest development is Trump’s daily CV-19 briefings. He has discovered that he has a captive audience and it’s good for ratings. Except he has set a new bar for incredibly stupid statements and incredibly stupid decisions. Many of the major news organizations have decided not to broadcast the briefings live because he spouts so many falsehoods and idiotic, dangerous things that they can’t keep up with corrections. This week, he mused that maybe injecting people with disinfectant might help. Some experts had trouble countering that absurdity because their collective jaws were dislocated after dropping to the ground. What a fucking moron.]

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