Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Earlier in the month, I was still skeptical about COVID-19, the disease that has now become America's central focus. Back then it was still far away, and I thought that everyone was overreacting. I was persuaded by the "it's just another flu" argument. The lack of urgency from the federal government kept me pessimistic.

I changed my mind when I looked at the death tolls from Italy. Then my daughter's college announced that students should not return to campus after Spring Break. Instead, students would resume their Spring semester work online. Soon after, the company I worked for announced an indefinite work from home mandate.

Since then, major aspects of American life have shut down: all professional sports leagues, college sports, movies, churches, casinos, restaurants and retail centers. It is stark living out without these non-essentials. I would love to be able to go to the library, to the gym, or to the movies. I think all of us would.

Until then, we are practicing social distancing. We go out for groceries, but not with the same frequency as before. The hoarding and insanity of that initial shut-down weekend seems gone, but being in a supermarket feels risky. The virus is invisible. Is this cart wiped down?

We still enjoy take-out, but picking it up from empty restaurants is disquieting. Our take-out orders are a small way of helping local businesses, but they are absorbing a big economic hit. I wish the country were better set up to help people on the edge. Of late, I've been pondering the brutality of capitalism.

As I write this, we're in this situation for at least another month. I hope that we continue to follow the guidelines so that we can flatten that curve. Next time COVID-19 comes around (if indeed it's seasonal), we'll be closer to a vaccine, have more hospital equipment, and have way better protocols. Until then, hunker down, America.

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