I find myself bouncing between hope and despair quite often these days. The numbers from Italy and Spain are so staggering, and our country’s reaction so inept, that it is difficult not to live in great fear of what comes next. But I also know that despite all the issues we have had in preparing for this, America tends to do pretty well at crisis once we can get moving in the right direction. We have tons of amazing scientists working on the problem. The best pharmaceutical, bio-tech, and straight tech companies in the history of man are focused on finding solutions. Whole swaths of our manufacturing base will eventually pivot to fight this. I’m not much for prayer, but I do pray that we get our big, American machine cranked up in time to make a difference.
Indiana officially entered lockdown today. I chuckled to hear that beauty salons were absolutely packed up until midnight last night. I say that because S had her monthly hair check-in a week ago and was thrilled that she got in before things shut down. Especially since she had to film a video for her health network.
We are letting M and C color their hair. I’m not sure what they picked but I know orders have been placed and packages are en route. I’m kind of excited to see what they picked. L wasn’t interested but did ask if she could do a mohawk or something. We think she was kidding but we said absolutely not.
I’ve noticed significantly less traffic on the main road outside our house today, so perhaps people are taking the shut down seriously.
I went out for groceries first thing Tuesday and although it was just before 7:00, it was still strange for there to be so little traffic. It felt more like a Sunday morning.
No issues at the grocery store. I got 90% of what I needed, but that was also because I went to a bigger grocery store a few miles away instead of the ones closer to our house. I did my shopping in 30 minutes or so then got in line. There was a single line for all registers, even the self-check out ones, that stretched about halfway through the store. It took me a little over half an hour to finally reach the register, which wasn’t terrible. People were being polite, although there was very little interaction. I tried to smile and say excuse me to everyone, but most people would mutter something back and not make eye contact.
The entire time I was in the store I kept thinking, “I hope I don’t pick up any germs while I’m here.” I’m not normally a germaphobe but I think we all are now.
I had a little tickle in my throat last week that seemed to go away quickly. Except for there was always a little hint of pain still there, like that warning you get a few days before a cold. I wondered if I was really fighting something off or if it was just nerves. Yesterday I was a little sneezy and my throat began hurting again. Today, fine. Never any Covid-specific symptoms. As bad as spring colds can be, it’s kind of funny that you are relieved if you begin exhibiting signs that are more cold-related. “Sneezing, itchy eyes, sinus headache? Thank goodness!”
A couple times I’ve tried to write about the economic impact of all this. It always ends up being too daunting, though. Because the fact is our economy is fucked, and fucked real good. I like to think that whenever this ends, society will pick right back up and get moving again. I realize that’s pretty naive, though. It is going to be very difficult to get all the gears of the economy turning again, and large swaths of the world will be affected by this for a long time. I also think about these billions and trillions we will be spending in the coming months and wonder where those dollars come from. Eventually we have to pay the bills which is a whole other level of crap to dump on an economy that is attempting to restart.
So from that perspective I have an understanding of what people who are arguing that we shouldn’t kill the economy to kill the virus are getting at. There are likely some ways to split the difference, as South Korea has done, but our country does not seem prepared or willing to take the steps required to pull off that balancing act.
And I, too, have been disheartened by those graphs that show how controlling the coronavirus now likely means another spike or two later this year. Our sacrifices now seem futile if we may have to scurry inside again in six months.
But these people who continue to argue that we should be back to normal in two weeks are utterly insane. Their comparisons to how the seasonal flu, car accidents, etc do not interrupt the economy are so insulting and infuriating. Yes, tens of thousands of people die from the flu every year. BUT NOT ALL AT ONCE. Hospitals aren’t so overrun with flu victims that they can’t see the “normal” sick and injured people.
I am fed up with being stuck in the house. And it’s not been two weeks yet. I get queasy when I look at our retirement accounts. I’m sad that we’ve already cancelled one trip and may end up having to cancel another one later this year. I fear the long-term effects this disruption is going to have on the economy, my kids’ education, my wife’s career, and society as a whole.
But, fuck, look at what is happening in Europe, what is beginning to happen in the US, and realize this is just the beginning, and tell me saving tens of millions of people isn’t worth whatever it costs.
Our political leaders have an impossible task. I trust the ones who are speaking to us honestly, who are focused on keeping as many people healthy as possible, and who understand that while it will be an immense challenge to come back from this, we can’t be measured in response to our immediate threats for fear of what comes after.