News: US Passes Four Million Coronavirus Cases

That… didn’t take long.

U.S. passes 4 million coronavirus cases as pace of new infections roughly doubles

The United States on Thursday passed the grim milestone of 4 million confirmed coronavirus infections, and President Trump announced he was canceling the public celebration of his nomination for a second term, as institutions from schools to airlines to Major League Baseball wrestled with the consequences of a pandemic still far from under control.

Here in California, where we took precautions, but also had rebels unwilling to prolong the quarantine-style precautions. We’ve just topped New York in the number of cases, and jumped up more than TWELVE THOUSAND CASES IN A SINGLE DAY. We’re twice as big as NY, so we’ll still try to make bold claims of superiority, but… still. STILL.

California surpasses New York as state with most coronavirus cases after record day

California has recorded its highest number of new Covid-19 cases in a single day, as the state surpassed New York for the most total cases in the country. The state saw 12,807 confirmed cases on Tuesday, the governor, Gavin Newsom, announced on Wednesday.

Other countries got this under control, but due to a lack of risk comprehension (being geographically far from all but two countries really messes up the perspective), widespread belief that the illness is a hoax, and the extended childhood that constitutes adult life for many Americans, we have to suffer EVEN MORE before coming to our collective senses.

I do want to note that griping about “Americans” is unfair: it’s like lumping all of Europe together, as if there is no difference between the UK and Germany, for example. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. There are regional pockets of science-based precautions and good behavior. That’s a thing! But there are also many individual failures within those good pockets, which is why I can live in one of the FIRST COUNTIES IN THE US to issue a health order, yet still had to have a conversation with a neighbor who doesn’t think COVID-19 is real, or even if it is real that the news is just exaggeration and hysteria. (He is being yelled at by family friends; I get the easy task of merely agreeing with this friends enthusiastically!)

Years of pretending that everyone’s opinion is equally valuable, and that even basic facts have at least two “both sides” elements, have taken a toll on the critical thinking of many of our citizens. And here we are. Together. Depending on the most foolish of us to keep our communities safe.

News: US Achieves Three Million COVID-19 Cases; World Achieves Twelve Million

US reaches 3m confirmed Covid-19 cases as Pence pushes for schools to reopen – as it happened

Johns Hopkins tracker confirms US has hit 3m mark, representing about a quarter of the world’s total cases

That was fast.

Also, it occurs to me that “pandemic” might be the wrong tag for this in the long term. Because, you know. This might not be the only one during the running cycle of this blog. (Yikes.) (No, really, it is OPTIMISM, because I think I’ll be able to live through it to write about the next one!)

The Johns Hopkins Corona Virus resource page shows there are over Twelve Million cases globally, While that also seems fast, you have to realize that my own, very large country is going up 60,000 CASES PER DAY.

News: Pandemic-inspired Slow Streets in San Francisco

With so many of our streets largely deserted by cars, and people desperate for some fresh air, why not give the streets back to HUMANS?

That’s the idea behind Slow Streets, which also helps local businesses by providing space for customers to wait outside their businesses in safely spaced lines, while other people can safely walk through the area. It is a clever adaptation, and a good one to see!

Slow Streets

Find local businesses, view maps and get driving directions in Google Maps.

On seventeen weeks of pandemic (and local prevention)

Tea in my favorite tea cup, which gets daily use now that I am always home

As you can tell by the prior posts, while my life (and the life of many people in my county/region) has changed significantly, yet not all of us are actually sticking to the plan to limit the spread of the pandemic.

Yes, the health orders are still in effect – here in SF, the active order explicitly says:

8. All travel, including, but not limited to, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile, or public transit, except Essential Travel, as defined below in Section 15.i, is prohibited…. This Order allows travel into or out of the County only to perform Essential Activities, Outdoor Activities, or Additional Activities; to operate, perform work for, or access a business allowed to operate under this Order; to perform Minimum Basic Operations at other businesses; or to maintain Essential Governmental Functions.

–ORDER OF THE HEALTH OFFICER No. C19-07e

And there are similar health orders in effect in other counties, yet… people within my social circles within California are taking vacations. *face palm* As in: leaving their homes, going to another city/county/state, staying in hotels, eating out, socializing with travel companions who are not from their households, sitting in the sun on beaches even they describe as “packed,” etc. Because: they are adults who are slightly bored.

I’m so glad I’m not interacting with any of these people in person, dear though they may otherwise be – and luckily, they don’t live in MY county. But I’m disappointed in them. Yes, we are all restless. Yes, I’m daydreaming of glorious, sunny, breezy moments from past trips. (I stared adoringly at maps of Lugano, Switzerland, today, which came to mind because the Swiss have decided that Americans (and visitors from 28 other nations) are too risky to allow in as visitors right now. (See the last item in this summary from the UK Guardian.) Really, based on the lack of self-control of people I know, who would blame them?) Yes, I’d love for the pandemic to be over – we would ALL love that. BUT IT IS NOT OVER. In fact, it is getting WORSE, because Americans have the self-control of small children. (No offense intended to any small children WITH self-control out there.)

I’m blaming those few, reckless people I know for the delay of museum re-openings, hair salons, and other services that could have gotten more of us living something closer to normal life, with more people CAUTIOUSLY working again.

~~~

The “New Normal” is more established now. I no longer receive mail about upcoming museum shows, library lecture series, bookshop author signing events, or public festivals: those colorful, festive newsletters have been replaced with small, polite-but-desperate pleas from local non-profits about our uncertain future, and how every activity they would ordinarily do to raise operational money cannot be done safely.

Many stores are closed permanently. Signs are down, and windows are papered over or covered in plywood. I’ve received numerous goodbye emails from those that were only open for office worker lunch shifts. My friend at a beloved local coffee chain let me know that many of our mutual friends are now seeking work.

Food delivery app-backed services are now (finally) viewed skeptically, as their business model of taking 35% or more of each sale while somehow also underpaying their delivery workers is recognized as exploitative of both restaurants AND delivery personnel.

To escape from that exploitation, restaurants near me are now running their own on-line ordering & delivery. This means some of them won’t deliver to me at all (they chose to service smaller delivery areas), foiling my earlier, successful attempts to support local restaurants. The few that do deliver to me still require full contact delivery (they want a human to touch their pen to sign a paper copy of an on-line receipt for a transaction that has already been paid (!) OR want tips handled as in-person cash transactions).

Companies that CAN support working remotely but never did before suddenly realize that people DO WORK while remote. This is transformative (I’m hoping this could be great for the physically disabled, who were not adequately accommodated in the past), and permanent remote work arrangements are being cemented at some large, digital-economy-centric corporations. The ripple effects of that alone are huge.

I continue to stay inside.

I am resolving my supply logistics. I have a stockpile of gluten-free, vegan dried proteins to tide me over if my deliveries are interrupted again. I subscribe to a local, weekly, produce-waste-prevention service, which gives me a crate of hardy fruits + veggies that can’t be sold in supermarkets due to size or color standards. My local gluten-free-sourdough bakery order will come through once the bakery completes their COVID-19 deep-cleaning and implements additional safety measures (hopefully the employee who tested positive will recovery quickly!). I am using local suppliers (for tea, olive oil, spices, grains) that can ship to my home.

My diet has changed in unplanned ways based on what I can/can’t get, which has caused me some problems (I have heartburn for the first time in 14 or 15 YEARS), and I’m trying to get a handle on that WHILE ALSO doing things like making sauerkraut or pickling beets for the first time, and making the most of what I have.

I appreciate that I have food, that my housing is stable, that my COVID-19 screening test yesterday came up clear, that I have a job, that my loved ones are reasonably healthy, that I have medical insurance. I am not going to risk the lives of others and stamp my feet over an inability to take fancy vacations to relieve some unstated existential crises or gaps in Instagram lifestyle posts. I AM going to continue to be concerned that so many Americans aren’t good at what the kids call “adulting.”

News: Current Confirmed Pandemic Figures

July 3, 2020 Johns Hopkins Coronavirus home page
Current count at the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center homepage (3 July 2020 at about 9:40AM)

I had intended to comment here on major milestones, but we are just flying through them so quickly now that recent “reopening” (which is more like “denial” or “pretending coronaviruses take time off” than it is “cautious and aware activities”) has had its incubation period run out.

Reading news on the phone is now called “doom scrolling,” to give you a sense of how poorly management of this virus has gone in my part of the world. (It’s possible to do better, and many countries have, but the US has chosen a different path.)

News: Pandemic Rise in California

It seemed like all was going well, and then… people decided that coronaviruses take vacations, and now we can’t continue with our expansion of business activities: here in SF, the June 29th planned expansion has been “paused.”

People who won’t wear masks are ANNOYING – and are now costing people their livelihoods!

San Francisco’s Department of Public Health has an additional dashboard available now, and it shows how we are doing against our activity expansion metrics. (I love living in a City that loves data!)

Key Health Indicators on Containing COVID-19

Safely reopening San Francisco requires a strong partnership among city leaders, public health experts, businesses, and the community. Our commitment to safely moving forward together comes with the awareness that reopening too quickly may pose health risks and economic setbacks.

To give you a sense of one of the two metrics that we flubbed, here is one of the graphics from the site above as of June 30th showing the steep increase in hospitalizations:

The San Francisco Department of Public Health does data WELL.

News: 500,000 OFFICIAL COVID-19 Deaths Reached Globally

News I was not looking forward to. (Illustration on the phone screen by me. Yes, I DO love Swiss watercolor pencils, and thanks for trying to give me something more pleasant to write about.)

The Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Mortality Dashboard shows we hit 500,306 a short while ago. Today. This very afternoon. Unfortunately. And this is still an undercount, because it is just the official toll.

Was this preventable? Yes, but: HUMANS. Humans chose to prevent it in some places (I’m STILL looking at you, fantastic and careful South Korea and Taiwan!) yet chose to pretend it would disappear, “like a miracle,” in others, because key leaders haven’t watched enough horror movies about pandemics, in which terrible things happen because no one listens to the scientists who were right all along. (Truth is stupider than fiction.)

It’s strange to live in a country that regionally chose to let a global pandemic run wild. The US is still leading in the sheer volume of cases and deaths (2,510,151 confirmed cases, 125,539 deaths, and a 5% fatality rate at this moment according to the Johns Hopkins Mortality Analysis page).

I may be living in a region that set the first quarantines in the country, and benefit from excellent regional coordination of precautions, but that hasn’t spared my large state from being one of many places where videos of white women ranting about being forced to wear a mask as part of a political conspiracy keep cropping up. (Link provided to ABC7, so you won’t have to log into Twitter, where I saw that.) And our excellent regional approach won’t spare us if and when people from lax, conspiratorial areas come to visit. Which we are already dreading.

One awkward thing to note about the JH Mortality page is that it is sortable, and you can sort by which countries have the worst outcomes by population size (measured as deaths per 100,000 people). And what is terrifying is that, while the US is a big and CARELESS country without a functional leader, there are other countries that are somehow doing WORSE.

I just can’t find a polite way to discuss this with friends in other poorly-performing countries, though I’ve tried things along the lines of, ‘so sorry that our countries suck at preventing death’ and ‘I’m sorry to report we have surpassed your bad track record in the death percentage reports.’ It isn’t great to discussed shared incompetence in the absence of someone agreeing there is a problem, however, so it feels like a sensitive subject; it also feels like looking at the scaled rate it is a distraction from the US’ position as the worst-hit place, math aside.

I’ll go back to dreading ‘breaking news’ again…

News: 10 Million Coronavirus Cases Worldwide

It’s a very unhappy milestone, but we should mark it.

Global report: Covid-19 cases exceed 10m as anxieties rise over US

Global coronavirus cases have passed the 10 million mark as concerns mount over dangerous resurgences of the disease in several countries, most prominent among them the US, where infections are rising in 29 of 50 states. The pandemic has claimed almost 500,000 lives worldwide in seven months.

We are also approaching 500,000 deaths globally.

It didn’t have to be this way. But… [passive voice] “mistakes were made.”