It feels as though global society tipped off a cliff at some point during the past 24-48 hours, with parts of California and all of France now locked down, states (including this one) and countries closing all bars and restaurants, the stock market seemingly in free fall, and now Australia telling its citizens overseas to fly home before doing so becomes more difficult or perhaps impossible.
Too many jaw-dropping events and changes to keep track of them all, but the gist is that we’re being told – now even by Trump! – to take the pandemic extremely seriously by, as the California authorities are putting it, “sheltering in place.” I’m thinking of making another grocery run today, for good measure. Jenny thinks that might be overreacting. I don’t think so.
A Seattle friend’s 23-year-old son is insisting on flying to Miami next Saturday for a month’s training, to be followed by employment on a cruise ship. “He’s convinced he’ll get it, probably not die, and with certain measures taken he won’t infect anyone else,” my friend reported yesterday. I told him I don’t believe in those hypothetical certain measures, whatever they might be.
Utah Jazz player Donovan Mitchell, also 23, told Good Morning America yesterday: “I’m asymptomatic – I could walk down the street if it wasn’t public knowledge that I was sick, you wouldn’t know it. I think that’s the scariest part about this virus, is that you may seem fine, be fine and you never know who you may be talking to who they’re going home to.”
You’d think the entire cruise industry would have been shut down by now, either forcibly or by collapsing demand. Another friend and I urged the young man’s father to prevail on him not to go to Miami. Our friend told us he had no power to do that, and reported his son’s reaction to our advice: “Capitalism sure is a bitch, isn’t it?” Hard to know how to read that across the generation gap. Feelings are bruised all around.
It’s being reported that Tom Brady is planning to leave the New England Patriots after twenty seasons and six Super Bowl titles. Who cares?
The pandemic is already at least indirectly affecting my circle of local friends, most of whom are musicians. John Reagan, a drummer who retired a couple years ago from his day job and now works as a rideshare driver, invited me to publish two emails he sent out to other friends. On March 11 he wrote:
I have been possibly exposed to COVID-19.
A passenger today was not actively sick, but she had been. She was going to her doctor to get tested. I have no choice but to self-quarantine until she gets her test results.
But I have had a series of passengers in the last week who have coughs, or who have sneezed. I spend a lot of time disinfecting the car!
Doesn’t matter much because I was not getting many rides anyway. I don’t really need the money but most rideshare drivers really do. There is a rising panic that their one source of income may be drying up for the foreseeable future.
And on March 15, John wrote:
Time for an update. Alicia got permission to work from home, so we have [been] doing our best to practice social distancing around each other. We are both going a little nuts cooped up in the house.
I have not heard back from my passenger from the 11th, the one going in to be tested, so we remain isolated. At the time I told Alicia about that ride, I had mentioned another ride that made me nervous, a regular rider going to his job at a local restaurant that Alicia and both like. The next to last ride I gave him, we had a nice conversation about the universal precautions they were taking. The last time I gave him a ride, he was tired and had a nasty cough. That was on the 10th, the day before my prime suspect passenger.
In all the hoopla, I kinda forgot about that ride. Until about an hour ago. In a Facebook post, the restaurant announced that the owner got sick on the 8th and after a runaround with the clinic, was diagnosed as Covid-19 and is now in the ICU.
We are now for sure on lockdown until we can find a way to get tested ourselves.
I offered to help John and Alicia any way I can, maybe by bringing groceries to their condo. “Thank you kindly, if we need anything, I will let you know,” he replied.