Journaling the coronavirus: Tuesday July 22 we’ve got Disney re-opening and doctors without orders as President Trump resumes the coronavirus briefings without Fauci and Birx
Yesterday marked the six month anniversary of the first coronavirus case reported in the US, and only the second coronavirus briefing since June 30th. Among much hullabaloo – including a “welcome back” video that totally backfired, with memesters inserting horror music and pleas for help by masked Disney staff – Disney World reopened on July 11 with copious amounts of hand sanitizer, temperature screenings and social distancing rules, plus a mask requirement to enter. You can do all the normal things you do at Disney except eat and walk and scream – in Japan the advice for riders of the coaster at the Tokyo Dome is to “scream inside your heart”. Meanwhile the only thing more crowded than Miami’s Ocean Drive are Florida ICU units. The state had record daily infections (9,400) and deaths (136) yesterday for the 7th straight day.
If the intermittent pandemic task force briefings and the opening of America’s most iconic attraction tell a story of nonurgent, intermittent problems, the numbers tell a different story: the number of infected has whooshed to 14.5 million globally, and 3.8 million in the US. Yesterday was a new record for daily infections – more than 70,000 in the US, which is uncomfortably close to half the total new infections in the world (167,000) though the US accounts for only 5% of the world’s population.
Two US governors have tested positive. According to the latest stat compilation on Wikipedia and reported by the NY Times, US COVD-19 deaths stand at 143,000, and the daily deaths are stepping back up to springtime highs, on average back up to 700-900 levels per day for the past week. It’s hard to know what numbers to believe, with the White House directing hospitals to report their data to the White House instead of the CDC.
Businesses have filed more than 3,600 bankruptcies, a 26% increase over last year. In June bankruptcy filings surged by 43% which puts into question the real nature of the economic recovery we are supposedly experiencing, per Trumplandia. The stock market swings up, then down, then up. A 1% daily gain or loss is not even news anymore. Numbered among the bankrupt are Chuck E. Cheese, Hertz, J. Crew, J.C. Penney, and Neiman Marcus; more retailers and especially oil companies are expected to join their ranks this quarter.
Yesterday’s briefing was, for once, actually brief, mostly because it featured only one speaker, the President. Health officials were not present though Dr. Birx was said to be just ouside the room. The President read remarks from notes without extemporaneously digressing per his usual practice. His remarks can be summarized as follows:
- it will get worse before it gets better, especially in the Sun Belt
- young adults don’t even know they have it, but should be responsible and wear a mask whether they like it or not
- 99.96% of fatalities are in adults, so come the start of the school year there will be almost no dead children so you shouldn’t worry
- everyone should wear a mask except when they don’t feel like it
- the President is getting used to wearing a mask, he carries it with him just in case, and though he did not wear one in his recent fundraiser appearance you should, if you want to, because in theory you don’t need the mask but when it comes to patriotism it (the mask) works
- the Trump administration is supporting governors and shielding the vulnerable, unless they are in Portland, in which case they may be beaten and pepper sprayed by unidentified federal forces roaming the streets
- it’s still the China virus, China let it escape and now the world is suffering
- the US is doing better than most countries, and our fatality rate is lower than most as long as you understand that ‘better’ means not in the top three, five or seven wealthy countries
- the task force, though it has met just once in weeks while the virus rages unchecked across the country, has had a ‘relentless focus’
- Trump’s administration is working to reduce the turnaround time on tests
- another shutdown is not an option, it would produce debilitating economic fallback and lead to catastrophic public health consequences – we’ve saved enough lives, folks!
- we’re being very vigilant about nursing homes because the elderly – wonderful people – are most high risk
- we’ll end up with a cure and a vaccine and therapeutics very soon, it used to take years but now we have logistic military people to distribute a vaccine in record time so definitely hold your breath
- the press secretary was not accurate when she forcefully asserted the president is taking more than one test a day but what’s a little hyperbole among friends
- the president is in favor of spending more money on testing if doctors say they recommend it but there were no doctors at the briefing to comment on their recommendations
- no president has accomplished as much as the Trump administration until the plague – which should have been stopped – came in, and they shut things down and now are starting things up “very successfully” though remember it will get worse before it gets better especially in places like Florida and Arizona where death rates reached record highs just yesterday
- Trump’s view that it will eventually disappear remains true, in his opinion
- we have a chance to have a very strong economy but we want people to want to go back to work, not force them into a position where they are making more money from unemployment than they were when they were working, so further unemployment will be in smaller amounts so they aren’t tempted not to go back to work
- the president wishes Ghislaine Maxwell well
- the stock market had a very good day
Dr. Fauci, not invited to the briefing, may well be wondering if he struck a Faustian bargain with the Trump administration, risking his reputation in order to provide a reliable scientific voice in a void of denial and blaming only to be pilloried in an oppo dump with White House officials like Pete Navarro going on record saying he (Fauci) has been wrong about most things. Dr. Fauci himself has appeared bemused but unfazed in interviews, saying Navarro “is living in a world of his own”. He has said in an interview that if he’s asked to step down, he will. People would freak out, but in terms of getting information, that wouldn’t be such a big deal – every platform in the world is open to him, he does not need a perch at the White House to keep us apprised.
A much much bigger deal is that, with Dr. Facui there, the White House is like a lighthouse helping governors guide their state ships through stormy seas We can all look to land’s end and see the reassuring revolving light; we’re all connected to and trusting the same warning system, looking to the same lightkeeper. Without Dr. Fauci, the lighthouse is darkened, or perhaps more aptly, flashing a spastic code that spells out UNFAIR or THE VIRUS WILL GO AWAY or WE DON’T KNOW WHERE THE ROCKS ARE, BUT LET’S RE-OPEN NOW.
Dog days of summer
With July, we enter the dog days of summer, called so not just because it’s so hot we all just want to lay around like dogs watching the clouds go by, but because Sirius (the dog star) appears to rise just before the sun. My friend Linda’s dog walked on today. Roxane was not just a good dog but the very example of good dogs – lovable, gracious and kind, the quiet queen of her owner’s heart. Linda’s post two days ago apprising her friends of the end, “The vigil” was like an invisible punch in the throat. Her dog was a chocolate Labrador, like my own dog Jake, who is exactly half Roxane’s age, with a dignified silvering of his muzzle and paws. Yesterday while scratching his belly I found a scattering of silver hairs on his broad, working dog’s chest and felt a fleeting panic of sadness. I’m sure he’s wondering why I keep hugging him and curling myself around him while he naps, and why I basically do anything he wants during a walk – sniff this tree for two full minutes, no problem. Go left instead of right, to make the walk longer – sure thing. Just keep on keeping on, doggo, I tell him. He grins around at me and gives a brief business-like wag and goes back to dogging.
I read a story recently warning that our pets are becoming ‘too bonded’ with owners during the lockdown which is a weird thing to say. I mean, we should always be spending as much time as possible with our pets – that’s why we get pets! No animal wants to be left alone for 8-12 hours a day. Dogs, like people, are social beings. Bonding is what they thrive on. If anything I think it’s the opposite, owners are becoming true companions to their pets, not just providers of food and water, and are worried they’re going to miss it. We – and by we I mean this man eating burritos with his dog, this woman lip synching her dog’s observations, this man with his cat, and this lady with a wingless bee – are loving our pets as they are meant to be loved. It’s so 2020 that in a time of great sadness and anxiety for so many people losing loved ones (and jobs), there is the quiet added calamity of pets dying, too. All over the world, people cut off from other people are losing the comfort of their pets, in a time when comfort is most needed.
In April, Russell Brand’s cat died, and in true Russell Brand form he eulogized the cat in a beautiful screed on love and nature and oneness and growth. He describes the unfamiliar pain of crying, but says even in his passing his cat offered a final act of friendship, and “spared me the opera of his own demise.” While evidence suggests Mr. Trump is no friend to anyone but himself, I am hoping that he can leave office with at least the dignity of Russell Brand’s dead cat, and spare us the opera of his own demise.
Good things: Moms in Portland are very disappointed in federal troops and want you to know it.