As I write this, yesterday was the first time in a month that I had left my street, when I went over to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for the afternoon to visit them and the girls for Easter. Nobody in their house is currently ill, my sister-in-law and the girls have been in relative isolation like me for about the last month or so while my brother has been alternating weeks of working outside the house and working from home; he works for a nearby county government doing maintenance on traffic signals and stuff like that, so his job is considered “essential”. (His department has been split into two teams, that way if a person on one team is diagnosed with the virus, only that team has to go into quarantine, not the entire department.) I made sure to sanitize my hands before leaving my house and upon returning. I might write more about my afternoon with them some other time, but today it’s back to business as usual.
Before that, the last shopping trip I made was on March 7. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of social distancing measures into place, only my dad has left the house and at that just to get groceries, cigarettes, and our mail; we use a P.O. Box, so we get our mail at the local post office. We’ve also found out that the theme park where my dad works will be closed for at least another month, and he’ll be getting a pay cut during the next part of the closure.
But he’s lucky, he could have been furloughed. Many employees at the theme parks are going through this right now as a cost-cutting measure. Basically what’s going on is that these employees have been temporarily laid off from their jobs, with the promise from the employer that they will be rehired at a later time when the workplace reopens. However, most of the workers being furloughed are the lower wage workers, much more numerous than those in the department my dad works in; he’s a technician. While they usually get paid more than the lower wage workers (everyone from ride operators to custodians to people working in the gift shops and restaurants on-site), there’s not as many of them and they’re considered skilled workers and not quite as easy to hire. So, for us, we’ll be okay with a pay cut at this time. He’s already offloading some services we don’t use as much and funds that don’t necessarily need payment on right now (like retirement funds) won’t be receiving payment for a while. At least when my dad has been getting groceries, his impulse buys are on food, not on yarn like I do. We’ve been through worse, and we got through it.
Our governor also instituted a statewide stay-at-home order through at least the end of this month. Here at our house it hasn’t been much of a problem since due to my mother’s requirement of round-the-clock care we’re kind of isolated anyway (and there is always at least one of us between me and my dad at home with her). Schools are closed, but students are taking their classes online.
Projections seem to be showing that the peak of the outbreak here in the United States is occurring right now, although it will probably be a couple of months before we know for sure. The outbreak seems to have hit New York state the worst. As of last week, New York has had around 160,000 confirmed cases and around 7,000 deaths. Compare that to Florida, whose confirmed cases are at around 15-16,000 and around 700 deaths. The death rate compared to the confirmed cases in both states is around 4%, which is small, but is much higher than what you’d get with the seasonal flu (typically around 0.1% in the United States). There have been a lot of unknowns with this virus, and the relatively slow response to it here in the United States compared to most of the rest of the world have not done us any favors. The hot spots here in Florida seem to have stayed in South Florida, primarily Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, one of the biggest urban areas in Florida (Broward County is directly north of Miami-Dade). Orange County (where Orlando is) has also been a bit of a hot spot, but thankfully not as bad as it has been in South Florida.
What is messed up is that our governor decided to make an exemption for religious services (which I could get into the political implications of why he decided to do that, but this is an apolitical blog). In a situation like this, gathering in a church or any other religious institution right now is a Petri dish waiting to happen. There are more opportunities for this virus to spread the more people gather together in such a closed space, and right now it’s just not a smart idea to do that. I’ve seen people on the news claiming that Jesus will protect them from the virus, and that’s why they’re still going to church, although Jesus himself said in his Sermon on the Mount that this kind of worship is basically for show.
“Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.”Matthew 6:5-6
As mentioned in my previous post, I myself am not religious, but I have a feeling that this verse in particular is why my dad does not attend church. Why attend church for one’s own reputation and for show when he can talk to his god whenever and wherever he wants? Why aren’t more people following this example, especially in a time where being in a closed space packed with people is the last thing we should be doing? But I digress.
I’m thankful for how far communication technology has come, because it has been essential in how we all have been dealing with the cabin fever that inevitably comes with the preventative measures we are taking right now to mitigate the spread of this virus. Movies and gaming have been a couple of escapes for us. I’m still playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey when I’ve had some downtime (although my dad, who has not gone to work since my birthday, usually gets up before me so I haven’t had as many opportunities to play), and my dad has started its predecessor (although it’s set about 400 years after Odyssey), Assassin’s Creed Origins while he patiently waits for me to finish Odyssey. I quite enjoyed Origins, actually; the graphics, storyline, and gameplay were all excellent. I watched Tiger King (which actually managed to make my dad bored within the first 10 minutes; I later watched it on my own, and it was an entertaining slow burn of a trainwreck…I couldn’t look away), and I also finished series 4 of The Tribe. I watched the first three episodes of series 5, although I’m looking for some more down time to watch more of it.
I finished The Fountains of Silence a few days ago and am gonna try to start Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi soon (I haven’t quite brought myself to open the book yet). With the ebooks, though…for some reason they haven’t been sticking with me. I’m hoping to remedy that by starting Dune by Frank Herbert. It’s a bit out of my ordinary reading material in that it’s a sci-fi novel, but perhaps out of the ordinary may just be what my brain is looking for. We’ll see how it turns out. The last time I touched upon what I was reading, I had failed to mention that I added three new books to my physical collection. They are:
- Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid — I’d seen this one all over Bookstagram (basically the nickname for the book lovers’ community on Instagram) and it seemed interesting. From what I gathered, it’s set in the 1970s and is about a young woman and her interactions with a fictional rock band called The Six. I’ve never read any of her books, but apparently her previous novel The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was also a huge hit.
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas — The novel’s title comes from an acronym devised by legendary rapper Tupac Shakur, and while the full acronym’s meaning is a bit too vulgar for me to write here, the letters spell out the phrase “THUG LIFE”. Thomas was inspired to write the novel in response to her emotions after the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old African-American man who was shot and killed by police in Oakland, California on New Year’s Day 2009. While the genesis of the novel predates the founding of the Black Lives Matter movement, the novel itself was published in 2017 and tells the story of a 16-year-old African-American girl who lives in a rough neighborhood but also attends a private, mostly white school. She watches her best friend (a young African-American man) get shot and killed by a police officer, and the novel is about the aftermath and her response to it. This can be a hot button issue, but I think Angie’s novel should at least be worth a read, to try and understand the issue from the point of view from within the African-American community.
- Born a Crime by Trevor Noah — Nonfiction and a memoir at that! Comedian Trevor Noah, who is best known for being the current host of The Daily Show, talks about his life, in particular his childhood growing up in South Africa, which at the time of his birth in 1984 was still under rule by the apartheid regime (a political system similar to the post-Reconstruction Jim Crow South where the government was run by the minority white population and enforced strict segregation between the races in South Africa to ensure their dominance in the government). At the time of his birth, miscegenation (relations or marriage between races) was illegal in South Africa (his father was a White man from Switzerland and his mother was a Black South African of Xhosa descent) and the law preventing this was overturned the year after his birth; because of this, he often mentions in his standup comedy that he was literally “born a crime”. Apartheid was finally abolished in the early 1990s through a series of negotiations between the government (represented by then-President F. W. de Klerk) and the leading anti-apartheid party, the African National Congress (represented by Nelson Mandela). This led the way for universal suffrage (all eligible citizens getting the right to vote) and the first free presidential election in South Africa in 1994 (which, of course, saw the election of Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa). Mandela and de Klerk were recognized for their roles in ending apartheid by being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Mandela died in 2013, but de Klerk is still alive and is now 84.
I hope everybody reading has been doing their best to stay safe and healthy during this crazy time and staying mentally sound as well. These have been really weird times that we’re going through. But remember: even the Black Death eventually came to an end. While this won’t be nearly as deadly as the Black Death, there will eventually be a light at the end of this uncharted tunnel, and we will eventually get there. In the meantime, let’s do as much as we can to lift each other up and keep a positive outlook despite all the crap 💩. We’ve got this. It’ll take time, but we’ve got this.
Stay healthy, everyone!