Rehearsal

Today is Tuesday April 28th. Kia ora katoa! We are officially in level 3 lockdown.

“We are opening up the economy, but we’re not opening up people’s social lives,” Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday.

This morning I wake at 6:30 am to the noise of traffic.  That comes as a shock. I later learn that there are long queues at McDonalds’ drive-throughs.  Apparently you can buy breakfast there.  There is lots of traffic noise, including an emergency vehicle, until around 7:30 am. Then it stops, and we have quiet again.

This morning’s paper is encouraging. There is a letter to the paper praising Joe Bennett, Jane Bowron and Rosemary McLeod’s columns David Armstrong’s column talks about those who’ve shown great kindness and generosity, and others who have not.

My phone is not charging properly, so I read more of Stalingrad. Many are re-reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace; I am reading Stalingrad. What a great book it is: while the Russian names can be difficult to follow, there is a glossary at the back of the book, a timeline of the war, and some useful maps. The book is huge (over 900 pages), but weaves several stories together in a masterful way. In one section I read this morning, characters argue about the truth, and what it means.  There is also a long descriptive section about the beginning of the German attack on Russia (Operation Barbarossa) at a place called Brest. The fear and apprehension of the residents and the military there parallels the  later fear of those at Stalingrad. There are references to the Iliad, and to Heraclitus.

It occurs to me, again, that while we are fighting a kind of war, and health workers are being expected to “go over the top”, we are not being bombed, or fleeing our homes, wondering what to take and when to leave. We are not experiencing a natural  disaster, or sending our husbands or sons to war.

But while many nations are “opening up” their economies,  almost in defiance of the pandemic, despite their death tolls (which have fallen), as if accepting that a certain level of death is acceptable. But the people who die haven’t enlisted in the armed forces; they don’t (for the most part)  choose to put themselves, or their loved ones, in harm’s way; yet this so-called wave may be a rehearsal for what is to come. It’s as though this virus, this unthinking, unresponsive organism, is trying to teach us something, and that if humanity doesn’t get the message, a great many people may have to die to prove – what, exactly? That we aren’t as powerful as we’d like to think? That a greater power is there?

It is interesting to see how compliant, or obedient, different nations are to their lockdown orders or requests, and how these are enforced. In Australia, for example, there are fines for non-compliance, while in New Zealand there have been some warnings and some arrests. It’s also interesting to see how clear, or vague, such expectations are. In New Zealand, the lockdown under level 4 was very strict, which made it easier to obey – it was clear and straightforward, and once you got used to it, it wasn’t so bad. Obviously the meaning of “essential” and “take-out” differs in different countries.

I thought the situation in NZ at Easter, a four-day weekend, was interesting: people were required to stay at home, and not to travel, or put themselves in danger i.e. in need of being rescued. Although many New Zealanders have holiday homes, or baches, or cribs, and many others plan getaways at that time, kiwis were happy to stay at home. That resulted in no deaths by car accident over the long weekend. In Michigan, however, people were really angry at not being allowed to go to their holiday homes. Many protested (in ways reminiscent of the Republican Tea Party Movement), and formed gridlock in the streets in their cars, thus impeding emergency and other health workers. The feeling was there was no empathy for these protesters. Certainly, the lock down is tough, but human lives are at stake here, and the state was dealing with serious cases of Covid 19. More black Americans were dying proportionately than whites.

In New Zealand, at the briefing today there were three new cases of Covid 19. Dr Bloomfield made a distinction between elimination and eradication, saying that elimination would continue to be a sustained effort; he also said that goals the government had set itself for the level 4 lockdown had been achieved. A health worker in Hawkes Bay has tested positive, although being asymptomatic. However this case is related to a known cluster. There seems to be no community infection here, in spite of community testing.

Other interesting facts: Boris Johnson is back at work, where there is both shock at the number of Covid 19 deaths in hospitals, and a desire to lift their lockdown. Confusing messages are being sent, one fears. Several children in the UK exhibited “toxic shock syndrome” and Covid 19 symptoms, although they had previously tested negative for the virus. In Australia, over one million people downloaded a contact-tracing ap on their mobile phones. And I discovered you can have quite a satisfactory funeral using Zoom, a feature which may well come in handy if travel proves to be risky, difficult and expensive in the months to come.

I watch Dr John Campbell’s update, and he talks about research papers. He notes that “the closest we come to the truth is through multiple collaborations”.

Here, it is still pretty quiet, although two planes flew overhead this  afternoon.

The figures for the UK are 157,000 infected and 21,092 deaths. In the US, there are 1.01 million cases of Covid 19 infection, and there have been 56,634 deaths to date.

A piece of music that has been running through my head today is Bach’s Choral Prelude in F Minor.  This beautiful music was used in the first version of the film Solaris.

That’s it for now! Nga mihi nui.

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