Shock without Awe

Today is Thursday, April 2nd.  I miss you all – family, friends, my cleaner, and my old life, with its rather humdrum adventures. I am one of the “lucky” ones, I keep reminding myself.  I had my eyebrows done just before the lockdown started, I don’t have toothache, my illness and rehabilitation were several years ago now, I am not employed, and so life is not nearly as much of a struggle for me as it is for many.

I miss takeaways and cafes. It would be nice to have a good banh mi. I even miss fish and chips, although I don’t particularly like fish and chips.

Last night I went to bed after reading a plea from a nurse in the US to reduce gun violence, thus leaving medical facilities available for Covid19 patients.

I slept fitfully, being very tired, doing all the right things, yet having difficulty sleeping. I would find a podcast with difficulty, then go off to sleep, waking to find it finished; then start the cycle over again. But no matter, it’s not as though I have too do anything or be anywhere the next day.

The morning newspaper is downbeat today. Perhaps they alternate – one day their glass is half-full, the next day it’s half-empty.  There is frustration that people are flocking to the Mt Victoria Lookout. There’s concern about what will happen after the lockdown, when some aspects of daily life are to be re-introduced. But Karl du Fresne, an old SOB and sometime friend of JD’s, has grudging praise for Jacinda Ardern. There is conflict about testing.  I guess that’s par for the course. There’s a big difference between having constructive discussions, and telling horror stories.

The most alarming news this morning is that Bauer Media are to close down. This is relevant because they print the NZ Listener, along with other magazines. I just arranged for delivery – I hope they can be persuaded to stay open after all.

At the 1 pm briefing there are 76 new cases taking the total to 797. The total of new cases is slightly higher than the past two days, but still less than our all-time high of 83 new cases on 28 March.  So probably good news, really.

Recommendations are confusing. One should wear a mask whenever one is outside? After being told this wouldn’t do much good, and then being asked to save them for medical workers? There is a study out of Singapore suggesting some people may be asymptomatic, yet carry the virus. That is really scary. There is also confusion about people who have been diagnosed with Covid 19, and recovered. Can they get it again, or are they superheroes, and can return to the workforce? Perhaps the level of antibodies can determine their level of infectiousness.

JD and I walk to the store this afternoon.  It is fine and sunny, and although others out for fresh air studiously avoid us, in the store it doesn’t feel as though people are practicing much in the way of distancing. Some of the staff are no longer wearing masks. I appreciate it’s frustrating to wear one, but we want these vital staff, who interact with many people, to stay well.  It is quite a scary shopping trip. I don’t see anyone I know. Today, however, I can buy dishwashing liquid. Coffee beans are very scarce, so we buy those too.

The news out of the US is very concerning. On the good side, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with several Covid19 cases on board is to be allowed to evacuate most of its crew to be quarantined in Guam. The Governors of Florida and Georgia are to institute stay-in-place orders, although the Georgia one doesn’t come into effect until Friday. Convention centres are being converted into hospitals, although the Javid Centre in New York and the navy ship USS Comfort, docked in New York, are out of bounds for Covid19 patients, being provided by the federal, not the state government.

The US continues to lead the world both in numbers infected and daily deaths. Americans have been warned to prepare for perhaps 200,000 deaths or more. Meanwhile, there is a huge lack of PPE and of coordination for providing equipment including ventilators. Frustration and anger continue to grow. And the costs: the medical bills are alarming too. How can this be, that the US is in such a sad state?   To paraphrase George Bush’s 2003 ill-considered invasion of Iraq (“Shock and Awe”), this is shock without the awe.

In NZ life quietly continues on, each day much like the previous one. We are thankful to live in a relatively peaceful society, while feeling huge sympathy for Italy, Spain and France; sorrow that the UK has taken a while to get itself organised, and grief and despair about the US. In our strange new world, it is fine and sunny most days, and not too cold.

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