Rage and Helplessness in the Time of COVID-19

September 14, 2020

This is another attempt to journal about life through the USA’s Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. It’s rough and not pretty, but we’re all original sources during this historic time. Maybe someday someone will benefit. For consistency’s sake, I’m going to refer to the virus as COVID-19.

It has been 6 months since I’ve been to my office, eaten at a restaurant, or seen any member of my extended family. Most summer activities that I enjoy — summer festivals, outdoor concerts, etc — were cancelled. My hair stylist has reopened in her own location, and I am sorely needing some hair color but I’m still working up the nerve.

School is “virtual” for many students and teachers, including WM and Nephew A. I really hate ‘virtual’ being used in that way, because teaching is still happening. It’s just that all parties have to step up their efforts a bit.

I hear WM teaching via Zoom and Google Classroom. He’s dealing with kids’ technical issues and playing Zoom bouncer in case an unwanted person drops into the class. While trying to get through a curriculum. (By the way, I’m typing a lot of this out on a Sunday afternoon while he’s spending hours setting up his classes for the week.) Teachers went from being heroes in the spring to villains in the fall as angry parents demanded in person schooling and instead of turning their anger toward a federal government who believes less testing creates better outcomes [Washington Post], decided to call Miss Smith, the Kindergarten teacher, a chickenshit. A school shouldn’t be a daycare center or the only place some kids get a meal or the only way a child gets a yearly eye/vision check or the only place where someone will report child abuse. Yet, this is all true and these are some of the reasons people wanted schools to reopen.

And it’s a hard choice! Because parents are working too. In most cases, the burden of helping kids is falling on the mothers. I see my women coworkers suffering and there are no solutions. Even UBI (universal basic income) wouldn’t help. If only we had managed this pandemic better, earlier.

Some bad news:
Here are the current statistics [Worldometer]:

US covid stats: 6.7 million cases, 198K deaths, 3.9 million recovered.

The initial death estimate in March was 100,000-200,000 but was revised down to a high of 60,000 in April. [NPR]

Venerated investigative journalist Bob Woodward is writing another book about Trump. Trump, in his wisdom, decided it was a good idea to have many candid, recorded conversations with Woodward. This week to promote his book, Woodward released tapes from February and March of the President Trump speaking seriously about the severity of COVID-19, and that he was playing it down to try and prevent a panic. [CNN]

Bob Woodward sat on this information for months to promote his upcoming book. Here in NJ, we are all supposed to be wearing masks (and I do so happily) so that maybe we can prevent one person from getting COVID-19. I wonder how many of the 460,000 people who attended the Sturgis rally and became superspreaders [Yahoo] would have skipped had they known that the president thought it was “more deadly than even your strenuous flus?” How many lives could Bob Woodward have indirectly saved, had he not sat on these tapes for months?

Welcome to my shit list, Bob Woodward.

Because Trump and his allies and a greedy investigative journalist were complicit in trying to hide the severity of this AND because we still don’t have a nationwide plan for getting through it, we now have to deal with sad ads like this every day.

Halloween masks for kids, and Santa with a mask.

Some good news:
Five vaccines are in Phase 3 of clinical trials. One was halted because of a potential side effect, but it was then restarted. You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be getting one as soon as possible. Fuck the anti-vaxxers – I’m planning on living another 35 years. To that end, I ventured out into the miasma of death (exaggeration) to get my flu shot on Saturday.

We wear masks to prevent infecting others with our potentially-dangerous sneezes, coughs, and spittle. But this week the doctors and scientists have started to posit that wearing a mask could also prevent the wearer from contracting COVID-19 as well! [NEJM]

General Mood:
There are rule followers. They wear masks, they stay apart, they believe who believe that just because they CAN eat in a restaurant now, doesn’t mean it’s always WISE to. They see friends, but only ones who have a similar mindset. This is my group, and I believe that the privilege of being able to work from home means we must also bear the burden of staying home from places we’d like to go. WM and I only go to the grocery store once a week, and Home Depot/Lowes as needed. We order curbside from restaurants, but will dash into the local pizza place (masked, as mandated) to pick up slices. Yesterday I went to Target for my flu shot, because that’s where my pharmacy is and topped up the groceries while I was there. Group A.

There are those who do what they want and don’t wear masks at all, believing that their immune system or their God will protect them. They are going to Sturgis, to Walt Disney World, to the Nordstrom sale, to giant weddings and backyard get-togethers. And to college parties. They believe this is a political issue, and will go away after the November elections. Group F.

And there are those who fall in between. They’re using the phrase “quarantine summer” even as they go to their condo in Florida because the kids need a vacation. They’re taking off their masks “just for a photo.” They’re chaining together a lot of outings that on their own are safe, but maybe a hair appointment followed by lunch at a sidewalk cafe and a trip to the pool capped off by a happy hour with a large group outside except to pee or see something on TV is a bit much for right now. Group C. [satire, but not really]

There are people in group A who have become pandemic hall monitors, who will vocally and repeatedly call out every single person on every transgression. (Unlike me, who simply vagueblogs them.) That’s not cool. Nobody likes a scold, even if they’re right.

And then there are people in groups C and F who, to make themselves feel better about their questionable choices, are painting group A as overreacters. I’m positive this is being said about me right now, and I don’t care.

I miss 2019, with all of its turmoil and flaws. And I fear 2021, because this is going to get worse before it gets better.

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  • SMD September 14, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    I’m tired.

    • Kimberly September 14, 2020 at 5:41 pm

      It’s exhausting. Maybe in 5 years I’ll reread it and see what a terrible angry person all this made me. Hopefully by then I’ll be back to live and let live. Maybe in 50 years I’ll be cited in an academic paper about 2020 as the lady who bitched about brunch.

  • Melissa @ Always, Lissa September 20, 2020 at 5:24 am

    I am so tired.
    I work in a pharmacy/drugstore so we’ve been open the whole time and I won’t even go into the specifics about how my company treated us (badly). But I am just so tired. Every month there’s something new happening on top of COVID-19 and every day less and less people are taking it seriously. It’s BS. Also screw Bob Woodward and I’m pissed to be saying that because once upon a time (as a wannabe journalist in hs/college) I loved that man. But yeah, he’s on my shit list too.