I woke up this morning thinking of the things on my schedule, since it’s Friday. Gradually, as I became more awake I finally realized that today is Thursday, not Friday. As is my habit, I opened up the New York Times morning briefing:
We count March 13 as our first day of self-isolation, which makes today the end of five weeks. We went to a meeting in town on March 11. Things were starting to shut down on the 12th. On the 13th we went to the grocery store and got takeout pizza and took it to Andrea’s brother’s house for the evening. Gradually we went out less and less, so perhaps we should count the days from our last time we actually went into a store — the day I picked up my dry cleaning. Regardless, though, we count from March 13.
Since this is indeed Thursday and not Friday, the latest unemployment figures came out. Last week more than 5.2 more people applied for benefits, bringing the four-week total to over 22 million. Since the official unemployment was 4.4%, now that an additional 13+% of the workforce has applied for benefits, the unemployment number should be around 18% now. And of course that doesn’t count the many who are not counted for one reason or another.
With so many out of work, there are calls to open up the economy. But with the dismal state of testing in this country, I don’t see how it can be done anytime soon, not safely anyway. Gov. Cuomo has just come out with a date of May 15 at the earliest. An example can be Singapore, which clamped down hard in the beginning and had very few cases. They’ve opened up some and now the number of cases is increasing rapidly. That isn’t encouraging.
I read of the rally in Michigan calling on the governor to open up the state. Ironically, Michigan is the state with the fourth highest number of cases in the US (28,000 today). This works out to 280 cases/100,000 residents, which is comparable to hard-hit Italy. South Dakota is emerging as another hot spot, with 132 cases/100,000 residents. So far, the South Dakota governor has refused to issue a stay-at-home order. And these numbers are of confirmed cases. With very limited testing, there is no way to know what the actual numbers are.
I am also reading about the shortcomings of our profit-based healthcare system. These discussions have moved in from the fringe to the mainstream as the pandemic makes the problems more obvious.
And on the climate front: a fire weather watch has been issued for our county. In April.
Andrea and I are more fortunate than many. We have a home and have each other. We can get food without waiting in line at a food bank. We are still healthy. We haven’t been able to get toilet paper or spray cleaner since this started, and our grocery pickup last week was without bananas, kale, or fresh strawberries. But we’re getting plenty to eat. If I’m not careful I’ll have to dig out my larger-sized pants.
And we can still walk in the neighborhood. I don’t see very many people out, and those I do see are generally pretty good at staying away from each other. I feel fortunate to be able to get out of the house now and then.
One of the things I love doing is planning road trips. Since I’m still in the dream state of planning, I’ve come up with a really long one. It is looking more and more like that won’t be until the summer of 2021 or maybe even 2022. A lot can change between now and then, but I enjoy the dream.
I’ve been rewriting a memoir I wrote a couple of years ago. I’d been making good progress but haven’t been able to write since everything shut down. My mind just isn’t relaxed enough to do that, so I write these blog posts and read and go for walks and work on my weaving and try not to worry about not being able to concentrate or even remember what day it is. We’ll either get through this or we won’t.
Stay safe and be gentle with yourselves.
P.S. Since it is Thursday, here’s another throwback: