I have several essay-type things I want to write for this diary, but those will have to wait, as new developments continue to crash down upon us in real time. Guardian live feed headline this morning: “Italy death toll up by 368 as flight bans and lockdowns increase globally.”
Last night Jenny showed me photos of enormous crowds in line for medical screening and/or Customs at O’Hare and Dallas-Fort Worth airports. Today is the day I would have flown from SeaTac to DFW. In hindsight, my decision to cancel my planned two-week trip to TCU and the East Coast seems both very slightly prescient and utterly overtaken by events, to the point of being beside the point. I didn’t know it at the time, but it turns out the decision was not mine to make.
This morning my friend and colleague James English at TCU filled me in on how his family is adjusting. Jim and his wife Krista have a teenage son at home and a daughter in college in Virginia. “The Fort Worth ISD, which was just on spring break, has extended that for at least two more weeks,” Jim told me.
On Thursday, Amelia’s small college in Roanoke, VA decided they were going to keep going until their spring break started on Saturday, March 21. They planned to then switch to online instruction after the break. The very next day (Friday), they sent an email saying they were starting spring break immediately! They did give students until this Tuesday to vacate campus if they needed more time to make travel arrangements. Krista was planning to drive up to get Amelia next week anyway, so we just moved everything up. She left at 6 am on Saturday morning, spent Saturday night in Jackson, TN and should be arriving in Roanoke within the next hour. That’s 1140 miles of driving in two days for Krista. She has a hotel for tonight in Roanoke and then she and Amelia will start driving home tomorrow.
Cases in Texas keep going up, but really, the confirmed cases numbers are almost meaningless at this point, because so few people are actually getting tested, apparently due to the lack of tests.
My local friend Eric, who lives one or two neighborhoods away, told me this morning: “Weird out there. 7:15 a.m. on Ballard Bridge, one car only. Ghost town.” The Seattle Times ran an instantly iconic photo above the fold in its Sunday print edition, of just half a dozen cars merging onto Interstate 90 – which runs from that point, south of downtown Seattle near the stadiums, all the way to Boston – at 6:03 p.m. on Thursday.
Jenny stayed up very late Saturday night doing final grading for her winter quarter classes that just ended. Sometime in the wee hours, she emailed me a couple items that I saw when I woke up very early Sunday morning. One, from the Guardian live feed, perhaps helps explain the apparent cluelessness of my friend’s recent email: “Myanmar’s government has rejected suggestions that the country has undetected cases of the virus, reiterating that it is free of any infections and that ‘the lifestyle and diet of Myanmar citizens’ has helped protect the country.”
Jenny gave the other item she sent me (from the Seattle Times) the subject line “dumbass Tim Eyman”:
Tim Eyman, the initiative promoter leading early polls to be the Republican candidate for governor this fall, spent Saturday rooting for a political rally of 250+ people to “stick our finger in the eye of Jay Inslee.”
In an email blast to supporters, Eyman flouted public health restrictions and advice on slowing the spread of coronavirus, saying “251 is the # of patriots I hope will join me @ Oak Harbor today. I’m bringing a 6-pack of Corona!”
As with some other of Eyman’s publicity gags, it was more bluster than reality. In a phone interview Saturday, he said actual turnout at the event was “about 60.”
Tim Eyman’s other accomplishments include getting caught on surveillance video, in February 2019, stealing a $70 rolling office chair from an Office Depot in the town of Lacey, south of Tacoma.
Per Seattle Times sportswriter Ryan Divish, dateline Peoria, Arizona:
With each passing day, the hope of a return to baseball normalcy, the resumption of spring training and an opening day of the 2020 season seems to be pushed back farther. The goal of starting the season on April 9 is gone. And the idea of starting on May 9 might not be too realistic. A start in mid to late May or even June 1 is probable.
My friends and I have begun adjusting to the prospect of a spring and summer in America without baseball. “So many male Americans have no real interest in anything except sports, like my brother-in-law,” said one of them. “Maybe he can teach himself the banjo or something.”
For my part, I remembered today that I own a DVD box set of The Essential Games of the Milwaukee Brewers (including the pennant-clinching Game 5 of the 1982 American League Championship Series, in which beloved catcher-turned-right fielder Charlie Moore legendarily nailed Reggie Jackson with a perfect throw to third), as well as Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, featuring Bill Mazeroski’s famous home run, from the film retrieved a few years ago from the wine cellar of then-Pirates owner Bing Crosby. I also have a few classic Wimbledon matches on DVD.
6 p.m.: Just now I went to the page that has the daily-updated chart of new coronavirus cases and deaths. The global total of deaths is now showing as 898,546. I scrolled down to see 567,999 new cases and 892,045 new deaths listed for Vatican City. Obviously a mistake, but startling nonetheless.
Update: When I checked the page again about 7:15 p.m., the page featured a pink-highlighted banner at the top with this message: “We apologize for the temporary disservice that you may have experienced. For about 20 minutes, our site showed clearly incorrect data due to a malicious act. We have investigated the issue and we’re now implementing protective measures to prevent this from happening again. The other day we got hit with a big DDoS attack. Now this. We’ll continue with our daily efforts and we’ll not give up.”