Plague Diary: 1

There is no question, we are living through an event that will send tidal waves of change through our society. What isn’t known is what exactly will happen and what those changes will be. It occurred to me that I might want to keep track of the day-to-day goings on for future reference. Hence, this plague diary.

I’ve already been in lockdown for six weeks, so this post will be my best attempt to sum up what has been going on.

As with most zombie movies, the beginning of the plague happened as background noise in other places. Early January’s news focused on a new virus in China that was not SARS or MERS and appeared to be more deadly and contagious than both of them. By the end of January, the entire province of Wuhan had been isolated and they were building special pandemic hospitals to deal with overflow. They were also, apparently, heavily misrepresenting the numbers of infected and dead.

Personally, I wasn’t worried even though I did make a joke on Twitter that, “This is how every zombie movie starts.” It was still a thing that was happening “over there.” My wife and I were looking forward to our trip to the East Coast for a friend’s wedding.

In February, the American attitude began to change. Cases were showing up in the United States and I began to get worried because there was no one at the helm at the federal level.

The President being the malignant narcissist he is and supported by a Senate rife with looters and carpetbaggers, every agency at the federal level had been captured by corporate stooges. It occurred to me, for the first but not the last, time that without a single competent person at the controls, there could be no national response. Something that is mandatory in the age of fast traveling pandemics.

I secretly began to worry that getting on a plane during a pandemic was the single stupidest thing we could do, but social bonds are strong and the people throwing the wedding are our oldest friends. I expressed my concern for the first time, but not strongly and I never suggested we shouldn’t actually go.

As the pandemic spread across Europe and roared into Italy, it was like watching a wave swamp other people on its way to you without being able to make yourself believe it was coming your way. The hot spot in Lombardy scared me, but rumors that China had vastly manipulated their numbers (by up to 75% though we’ll never know for sure) really got my attention.

By early March, I was worried. At that point, we knew the virus could be spread by asymptomatic carriers for up to two weeks while also being far deadlier than its Corona Virus cousins.

I’ll be honest: I hate working in an office. I spent the six previous years working from home and was reluctant to return to the office when I switched companies last November. But I liked the job and I was only required to go into the office two days a week so it wasn’t a problem. Until it was.

One day, while washing my hands in the men’s room, a young guy (25ish) came up to the sink next to me and aggressively blew his nose into it. Boom, boom, boom one nostril. Boom, boom, boom the other nostril. That was my last day in the office.

I came down with a respiratory infection a few days later and notified my boss I wouldn’t be back into the office until it cleared up. The cough got really bad and there were a few days when I might have had a fever but the infection was generally mild. However, as the day of our trip approached, I knew I would not be able to get on a plane in that condition. My wife then also got sick and we canceled the trip. I took the personal days anyway to recover and by the next Monday, the company had sent everyone home to work remotely.

I don’t know if I had a mild case of C19 or it was some other unrelated respiratory illness, but it kept me off that plane and homebound which may have saved me from catching a full blown case of the stuff.

Even then (!) the severity of the situation didn’t hit me. My first thought when I heard the WFH order was, “Yes!” I had already asked my boss multiple times to move to a full time remote position and been denied.

But on March 19th, the virus finally reached out and slapped me across the face to get my attention. My wife, who was the house manager for San Diego Theaters, was laid off along with all other staff. With all performances canceled, there was nothing for them to do.

Over the course of the last six weeks, we’ve settled into a surreal lifestyle where we see the disturbing things happening elsewhere while our little Southern California niche neighborhood continues on tragedy free. People go for walks, take their dogs, pop down to the store. The only difference is they social distance and wear masks when they do it.

The only shortage we’ve encountered was for paper products but that seems to have been alleviated. The shelves aren’t overflowing with Charmin, but we’ve been able to get the stuff we need. Our butcher shop is still well stocked and the local Ralph’s has instituted limits on stuff people panic buy.

At this point, I’ve lost no one to the virus. No one I know has caught it, no one I know has died from it, but I turn on the news and I see exhausted doctors and nurses fighting an endless stream of patients. I see refrigerated trailers being piled with bodies. I see data pouring out of various places around the world showing alarming statistics.

Any doubts we might have had about C19 deaths being under reported have been laid to rest by statistical analysis that shows extra deaths in various regions and nations riding at 125% to 150% meaning that only categorizing a death as being C19 related if the patient tested positive before they died is counting about 33% of the actual deaths from this pandemic.

Lately, groups of easily manipulated morons have been spurred to hold protests against the lock down orders by bots from Russia and the gun lobby. Some hold signs that say, “Your health doesn’t trump my rights.”

This highlights the fact that we are living in a time of social division… I was going to say “unseen since the Civil War” but the truth is the racism that underlies the right/left split has been there all along. It was only when a hateful goon managed to get elected President that racists felt emboldened to shout the things have always whispered behind closed doors through a bullhorn.

In the end, this may be a good thing. America will never be the country we want her to be until we face down and eliminate her racist underpinnings. That the rich have been stoking the racist fears of fragile psyches for decades through the Tea Party, has been well proven. So it may be that racism isn’t even the final boss to this level, but wealth disparity is.

So where are we right now? We are under siege by enemies at home and abroad. We are locked down due to a virus that may never have a cure or a vaccine. We are suffering from cataclysmic climate change. Corporations have effectively captured the federal government. Guns have flooded our streets. Botnets on social media have been trained to get a rise out of a certain violent and uninformed segment of our society with depressing regularity.

So, I guess, what I’m saying is that today, on April 27th, our country is being ripped apart along many fault lines and I don’t know if we will emerge from this in anything like the same shape we went in.

I would not be surprised if future posts from this blog come from the new Nation State of Wacaliforegon. Or Lower Canada. Or from a Fox News reeducation camp in the desert.

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