It’s about two months into the Coronvirus outbreak that started in Wuhang, China. The media term is Coronavirus, which is actually a broad type of virus, but the medical name for this outbreak is COVID-19.
The U.S., generally, was slow to respond. “Its happening in China, that won’t happen here” seems to have been the thinking. Well, it’s a global world, so before long it cam to our shores. In mid February is came to Rhode Island — Pawtucket, in fact — when students came home from a trip to Italy. One of the teachers tested positive for COVID-19 and nearly died.
He struggled to breathe. His lungs filled with fluid, and nurses in hazmat-style suits had to drain them every two hours. The worst part, he said, was the feeling of choking. “You feel like you’re asphyxiating, and you’re panicking because you can’t breathe.” He kept telling himself, “Just get through the next hour, the next hour, the next hour.” At one point, he was aware that a priest in protective gear was about to administer last rites. He wrote a note to his wife saying that if his lungs collapsed, he did not want to be put on life support. “I was one inch from death,” he told the WSJ on Tuesday. “It’s alarming when I hear people minimize it as a simple cold,” he said. “It almost killed me.”
Some strange things have happened, and they have escalated quickly. The country is shutting down and not slowly — like, immediately.
Here’s an overview of what has happened in the past day:
- Drumpf goes on TV this morning and announces a 30 day travel ban to Europe, but not the U.K. (suspiciously where he owns resorts)
- Schools and Colleges have been closing for the month of March and sending students home
- The PGA Tour and NASCAR continue, but without live audiences
- NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to close
- New Hampshire cancels all criminal and civil jury trials
- Ted Cruz self quarantines because he shook someone’s hand
- Library of Congress closes to the public
- The Senate cancels their spring recess
- Drumpf and Pence refuse to get tested for the virus, even though a Brazilian official who visited them tested positive — which is terribly unethical and dumb. If they are contagious carriers, more people in their orbit will get the virus (three days later the news say they have tested negative. Seems like their optics were a “stay tough” ploy to their base)
- Meanwhile, Lindsay Graham, who was at Mar-a-Lago with the president, self-quarantines
- NHL suspends all games
- A Utah Jazz player tests positive after making a public show about how he doesn’t care. He touched every surface he could at a press conference
- Italy’s death toll tops 1000 people
- Governor Cuomo of New York bans the gathering of more than 500 people
- Previously, yesterday, Governor Raimondo in RI did the same, but for 250 people
- Broadway theaters in NYC suspend all performances
- Republican lawmakers have persisted in using “Wuhan virus” or “Chinese coronavirus,” despite remarks by Democrats and the director of the CDC that such phrases are inaccurate and even racist
- Ohio extends spring break to three weeks effective next Monday
- Major League Baseball suspends spring training and delays the start of the season
- The Dow tanked 10% in one day and trading was stopped due to automatic halts that kicked in when 7% of value was lost. S&P plummets 9.5% as well. Worst day for the Dow since a crash in 1987
- Disneyland plans to close tomorrow (Friday) until the end of March
- The NCAA cancels March Madness
- Drive-through test sites open in Colorado and a few other places while the nation’s supply of test kits remains low
- NYC declares a state of emergency
- Providence declares a state of emergency. All entertainment licenses where more than 100 people can gather are revoked
- Maryland closes all public schools
- Major and minor conferences have cancelled right and left. A client spent well over $80,000 on a trade show booth to have the trade show cancel a week before
And in local news, some other occurrences hit us directly:
- A meeting that I had with a state group around accessible tech was cancelled yesterday
- A concert we were supposed to attend (Jonathan Richman!) was cancelled today because of the mayor’s declaration, even though the venue and performers were going to do it
- Oomph decided to close the office and have all staff work from home like many other businesses
- The East Side Nursery School Silent Auction — a big yearly fundraiser — is going to be online only this year. It was slated to happen in two weeks
- Beth’s rehearsals have been cancelled until further notice. The Wilbury group had to shut down and now Outloud won’t have a performance space because they were going to perform at a school. They plan to perform again in the fall
These are strange times.
We plan to get poké bowls for dinner tonight because it feels like we need to support local businesses and especially Asian-owned. People have been dumb enough to wonder if Asian food will give them coronavirus and whether or not they should gargle with bleach. Seriously. Meanwhile, toilet paper and hand sanitizer are being fought over at the grocery store.
I hope we can all come to some reasonable sense of reality real soon.