Saturday, March 14, 2020

Plague diary March 14

On Thursday I exchanged emails with an internet friend who said she was going to the big Dallas Quilt Show the next day.  I replied that I thought she was brave to go.  On Friday she wrote to say they had canceled the show!  A few people had gotten to attend the preview reception on Thursday night, and one of them got this photo of the best in show winner, by Karen Stone. 

So my question is: why did they wait till the city government banned all large gatherings?  Why not realize this was a bad idea four days earlier, before the show was hung, before the vendors set up, before the food service was stocked, before people got on airplanes to come?

In fairness, things are moving quickly, and the decision that seems no-brainer obvious today might have seemed wildly pessimistic the day before yesterday.  But I think pessimism needs to be our new default, at least until we learn more about how the disease operates and how well we can mobilize against it.  Last week I was the one to suggest, in three separate groups and organizations, that it's time to cancel our meetings, close our gallery, stop getting together.   

If I were 40 years younger and needed that paycheck, I would be thinking in a different vein, focusing on how to protect myself when I went out in public.  But since I and so many of my friends have the luxury of staying home, it seems that staying home is not only self-protection but public service.  And I'm telling everybody I know that they should be staying home too.  They say citizens have to step up and help during emergencies, and my role, apparently, is to be a canary in the coalmine. 

Listen up, people!  If you don't have to go out in public, don't!  Researchers have been modeling the potential progression of the disease in hard-hit Seattle.  They said with its current rate of spread, we can expect 400 deaths in the next four weeks.  But if the transmission rate could be reduced by 75 percent, mainly through social distancing, we would expect only 30 deaths. 

I don't usually watch TV news or C-Span but my husband does, and I have been listening in more frequently than usual when the talking heads are talking about the coronavirus.  It's clear that uncertainty is high in every aspect of this crisis.  How does the disease work?  When are people contagious?  How long does the virus stay active on a surface?  And of course, the big one, can I get tested?

In the absence of reliable information, you get complacency on the one hand, and panic on the other hand.  Neither one is helpful.  So I was happy to see that the New York Times, which has done excellent reporting on the crisis so far, has removed the paywall from its coronavirus coverage.  You can access it here, and the site is updated around the clock for the most recent news.

I have been worrying about my sister, currently enjoying a vacation at a nice resort in Mexico.  That is, when she isn't worrying.  We've exchanged several emails in which I urged her to come home early, and a few minutes ago I was greatly relieved to hear that she has rebooked and will be coming back tomorrow instead of on  April 1.   I will feel even better if I have made you and my other internet pals think twice about that book club meeting, that concert, that trip to the fabric store.  Work from your stash.  Stay home!!!

I'm waiting for another picture, same beer but in her own living room.


  1. In Port Townsend, WA, across the water from Seattle, everything is shut down: schools, library, many stores, churches, art galleries, people are practicing social distancing with a vengence. I think we all figure it is just a matter of time before it reaches it fingers out to us. There was one case diagnosed in the county, a man who picked it up in the hardest hit Seattle suburb.

    I live alone, have plenty of groceries so no need to go out except walking the dog once or twice a day. I don't meet anyone with whom I would spend time while walking and to keep to foresty paths and side streets.

    I have a 4 day trip planned to the WA coast beginning on Thursday. I'm driving, alone and have sanitizer and gloves for gas stations. I may even take a pee pot with me so I don't actually have to go into the stations when getting gas.

    I worry about my two kids in Denver, one works for the Post Office, at the window...can't think of a much worse place for exposure than that. I wonder if the PO would shut down. My daughter is a computer testing person and her company sent everyone home and told them to work from home. But you know, they are my kids so I worry a bit. I'm not panicky, but just very concerned.

    A neighborhood couple left last week for Spain, just as things were beginning to heat up here and now today I see that Spain is headed toward the same situation as in Italy. I thought at the time she emailed the neighborhood group email about their being gone that it was stupid.

    I think you sister is wise to come home early, even if she did get the virus, it would be so much better to be home than in another country,

  2. A small group I am in spend a day or two discussing pros and cons of meeting or not. We finally decided not to meet hours before the governor ordered closings. Since then everything I usually do has been cancelled. I am well stocked with food, books, fabric and yarn.

  3. Karen's quilt is fabulous!!!!

  4. I've been doing social distancing since I retired in September, so that's not the part that makes me twitch. It's the shelf clearing mentality that hit toilet paper and sanitizers, and spread to the grocery items. I know hope springs eternal, attendance is up to the individual, and all that, but it seems better not to wait until last minute to cancel. Not only for vendors to do all that work, but what about people attending that need to travel - better that they don't even start out. I know things are changing fast, but I think we all know that this will not change for the better in days.