Day 6 & 7
Compliance. Today begins the second full mandatory day of "shelter in place" orders and with a few exceptions it looks like everyone is doing their best. The order is specific to the SF Bay Area counties only and it was the first such action in the nation. CNN showed a long shot along the Embarcadero and the East Coast anchors were horrified by the lack of compliance. "People are holding hands!" in an era of self-distancing. Yes, people that are sheltering together are allowed to share the risk and the isolation together. It looked to us like the crowds were only a small fraction of what's "normal" and we observed good spacing. The park across the street from our house has become less of an athletic field and more of a neighborhood gathering site. I watched out my window as a group of 10 or so chatted for 20 minutes in a very wide campfire-type circle. We're trying.
What fascinates me is that my "perception" of this crisis changes by the day if not by the hour. At times my primal "hoard" genes kick in and at other times I use my forecasting skills to see into the future and let my "rational" genes drive the train for a while. As of right now the SF Bay Area is the only region in the country to be on full lock down (except for essential travel) and that looks like a mistake. I suspect we'll know in a few weeks if it was a good decision, but given the supply chain issues we need the rest of the country to realize that a full-country shut down now makes the consequences less severe later. The probability of that being the optimal decision from where I sit seems obvious. This is bad. People are going to suffer from the shutdown but how many lives will that save?
I saw a story (I have actually read lots of stories) that had a stat that twice as many Democrats believe "that the worst is yet to come" than Republicans. That's a clear split. That's clearly the "science gap" that seems to exist between the party. Well this reality show will play out within months--without commercials. Now you could argue that Republicans are not worried because they fully expect a lock down that will Singapore this problem, but instead it looks like the RED states are moving the slowest to change human behavior.
Lock Down Beard. If there is one thing I suck at it's growing facial hair. This is probably a good thing overall, but I've always wanted to know what facial hair would look like. The problem is that after a few days it looks horrible. Well, I've got three weeks ahead of me (at least) and there will be virtually no opportunities to be embarrassed. So here goes. Last shave was on 3/15. Today it's just scratchy. Update: My wife saw this and it sounds like the lock down beard is about to end :-(
Low-Information People. My cousin posted a picture of her and her hairdresser very happy about the fact that her hair is getting done. I reacted that this looked scary and then started hearing from her all the reasons why hair was more important than a self-quarantine.
"I'm keeping the economy going"
"I was the only person in the store"
"My hairdresser is related to me on my mother's side so it's ok"
"My hair is important to keeping a positive attitude and that's the most important thing for staying healthy"
Wow! I explained that every person the hairdresser has interacted with in the last 48 hours and everyone that they interacted with now have provided a nice little bridge for the virus to cross. When she then walks into her home with her pretty hair, she is potentially bringing the virus into her home and infecting her home. It's sort of the modern equivalent of sleeping with a prostitute with all the potential for diseases.
My "negativity," she argued was just about me being bored in my confinement. No, I responded, I'm worried about all the 80+ year olds in the family dying in the next month. "I've followed the rules to a T" she claimed. While I'm not sure how she could get her hair done from a six foot distance, I acknowledge that listening to the politicians may not be the best path, but the doctors are pretty darn clear! Every American should behave today as if they are infected and self-quarantine. This is just one interaction, but imagine what this will look like a month from now. Imagine what this looks like if we look like Italy does today. This is an invisible killer and the only way to stop it is to tie people's behavior (interacting with other people) to the death rate. We are entering an era where policing won't solve a thing...this is going to all be about peer pressure. I took my first stab at this type of pressure today but I'm confident that I failed.
Republicans First. I'm fascinated by the fact that this seems to be hitting the Republicans first. Today a republican member of congress announced that he tested positive. We've heard about party organizers testing positive last week as well as numerous Republican politicians in a self-quarantine. We know that the deaths skew toward older Americans just as the republican party does. Does this virus reshape the electorate? I suspect not. I suspect that party affiliation will not become an immunity strategy. Update: They just announced the second congressman to be infected and he is a Dem. So much for my novel.
Republicans have also been against anything that makes it easier to vote. They argue that they are trying to preserve the integrity of the vote while it looks to many like they are making it more difficult for the poor and working class to vote. There are Democratic states that are largely moving to a mail-only election while many Republican states have resisted mail only. Is there still a choice? How can we have an election if we can be in contact with people?
Hypochondriacs. It's a bad time to be a hypochondriacs.
Stay Safe. I find myself signing off with a note to "stay safe" in my emails. You know this is big if I venture beyond the same sign off I've been doing for 30+ years!
FedEx Delivery. The dog barked. I went to see what was up and saw the FedEx truck out front. I had been expecting a delivery and the sun was out. I opened the door expecting to see the boxes on the doorstep. Instead I saw a purple clad driver walking with my two boxes. He went to hand them to me and I realized that the process of handing them off violated the 6 foot rule. We would be too close. I didn't want to say, "Just put them down there and I'll get them" but that's exactly what I should have said. I came inside and took a Silkwood shower!
Around the world. I talked to people in India, Italy, UK & Australia (as well as the US) today and I'm amazed that for the first time in my lifetime we are all one. Four countries, everyone working from home, some used to it, some not. We're all in the same dream, we're all trying to figure out our new reality. In India my colleagues there have anywhere from 3 to 4 people who come into the home every day fixing meals, making beds and now, for the first time, these privileged Indians are wrestling with cooking their own food and washing their own clothes. Can you imagine the humanity of it all. No matter where we are around the world, we all seem to have fallen through the same rabbit hole and while we quite literally live worlds apart in strikingly different cultures, we are wrestling with the same anxieties and trying to wake up from the same through-the-looking glass dream.
Day Seven. It's been a week since my personal self-quarantine began. I've made a handful of excursions out but I'm not sure if this means I'm in the clear virus wise. I've done a reasonably good job of staying away from people who are not my family. That might not be good enough. I took a midday walk today with the dog and was stunned to see so many dogs in the neighborhood. Who knew that we had so many dogs. All of a sudden walking the dog is is our best option. All the family walks plus some extra snacks from all the hoarding we did, means that we are living in the best of canine times. They are certainly loving this new lifestyle.
Question. Are germaphobes absolutely losing it right now?
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