Something is different this morning. Yes, my wife is, as usual, sitting up in bed checking her phone. But on this fine March morning, she has deviated from her usual annoying habit of telling me the temperature outside and the temperature where each of our children are living. It’s one of those endearing…actually annoying things people do. My friend Tyrone lives in New Jersey and frequently asks my how much gas costs here in the Triangle of North Carolina as though he might drive eleven hours to save fifteen cents per gallon. What was different today was that my dear wife was giving me a series of news updates on the coronavirus.
This probably is something that previous generations dealt with from time to time. I’m sure my grandparents listened to the morning radio news for updates on the Depression and World War II. My parents were probably glued to their TV screens during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember watching the Today Show every morning during which Frank Blair would update us on the Vietnam War. Even my kids check their online newsfeed every day to keep abreast of the issues that are important to them…like who was revealed on the last episode of The Masked Singer.
We were headed to a local Bagel place to pick up egg sandwiches to take to a senior living community in nearby Apex. No, we were not going there to feed anyone, rather, we were going to have our taxes done for free by the AARP group. We were going early to get in front of the line as seniors are both early and slow. We figured it was better to sit in the lobby and have breakfast so we’d get out before next year’s tax season.
We passed the hospital along the way and my wife gave a little wave as we passed by. I asked her what that was all about and she said her friend and co-worker was having surgery that day. I asked why she wasn’t at the hospital, and she said, “Are you nuts? That’s the worst place you can be. The hospital is crawling with germs.” She then continued to regale me with a dizzying array of statistics about coronavirus including its spread, impact, incubation and parallels with the flu.
Part of this indoctrination includes the importance of touching your face. There is a rather hilarious video compilation of disease experts, newspersons and politicians speaking at news conferences explaining this and then almost immediately and overtly touching their own faces. It’s kind of like introducing a Gun Control bill while on safari hunting black rhinos.
For some reason, as she is explaining this to me, I mention that she must have touched her face when applying the makeup she is wearing. I also may have mentioned that it seemed that she may have over-applied it this morning. My tactlessness aside, I assured her that I only mentioned it because it rarely happens and it reminded me of the waitress we had in Charlotte last weekend who was surprisingly overly made up for someone so young. This seemed to successfully change the subject, but when I looked up from my phone, she was rubbing her face as though Barack and Michelle Obama popped in unexpectedly during her minstrel show. Mental note…too much makeup overrides health protocols.
As we walk from the car toward the lobby of the “The Home”, we see an elderly woman coming out wearing a mask. This is the type of mask that has been determined to be completely useless against coronavirus, but still is being hoarded by profiteers and the paranoid. “Wouldn’t this place be almost as bad as a hospital?”, I wonder.
While we wait, my wife is listing the companies in Seattle that are closing for the next month and allowing people to work at home. She also is reading about how the airline industry is getting murdered since people are reluctant to fly. This is relevant as our daughter in Charlotte is scheduled to fly to Seattle in two weeks to visit her brother, who lives there in the Ballard section. This is starting to concern us.
Westchester County: Man with virus goes to temple. Now dozens are in quarantine.
New Hampshire: Man leaves quarantine to go to event at Dartmouth College.
Seattle: CenturyLink Field vendor test positive for virus.
Now, I am quite confident that my daughter is unlikely to set foot in a temple, and Ivy League campus or an XFL game, but eventually this disease is surely going to make it into brew pubs.
Our taxes are done and we’re getting a few bucks back. As much as I’d like to needle my wife with a “Thank God for Trump”, I’m already in the doghouse over the makeup comment. I check my Facebook feed and notice a post from a former student who is now a professor in Seattle. He mentioned to someone that he prefers to get his coronavirus information from legitimate scientific sources rather than the media. As a result, the person somehow compared my friend’s approach to acting like Donald Trump. As this clearly made no sense, I was about to post to my friend, the suggestion that he not lower himself into a debate with a lunatic and ignore the bait leading to a pointless argument. Instead, I just posted on his feed, “He’s obviously been infected!!! Burn him!!!”. At least my friend will get a laugh before dying.
Regarding science vs. the fear-mongering media, we had dinner a few nights ago with my son-in-law, who has a PhD in epidemiology, which is basically the study of diseases on populations. There was good news and bad news and quite frankly, I’m not sure which was worse. While Taiwan and Vietnam seem to have put forth an efficient and effective response to the disease, Americans might be in deep doo-doo due to our shitty healthcare system, particularly for the poor, and our equally shitty employee sick-time policies, again, mostly for the poor.
We learned the flu is indeed worse than coronavirus in many ways and that our pitiful impact on fighting the flu does not bode well for this new puppy. Death from coronavirus is pretty much only a threat to those patients under 5 and over 70 years old. The original name of Coronavirus, AKA COVID-19, novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, is SARS2. Now you tell me, what was the good news?
Trump declares that the coronavirus will not be as bad as reported by scientists. His findings are based on “a hunch”.
Trump cancels his visit to the Center for Disease Control citing “safety concerns”. Another hunch?
Princess cruise ship carrying thousands is still meandering outside San Francisco Bay as a helicopter drops testing kits. The ship spent two weeks in Mexico and Hawaii (not Asia) and has several ailing crewmembers and passengers. A passenger on the previous cruise on this ship passed away from the virus last week. My wife contacts Royal Caribbean to find out the refund policy for our upcoming cruise in September.
We try to relax in front of the TV, but it’s not the same. My attempt to hold her hand is met with a spray of hand sanitizer. I gently remind my sweetheart that all of the store shelves have been stripped of this no precious elixir, and we may want to save it to spray the mail, or neighbors. She tries to stifle a cough, a remnant from her cold of last week, but she knows I heard it, and slid to the extreme edge of the sofa.
We try to put all of this behind us as we snuggle into bed. We know that we will both be reading the overnight reports in the morning. At least we are in this together. We lightly give each other a good night peck before turning away and vigorously rubbing our mouths with a Lysol wipe.