Wednesday 18th March: So what, exactly, is this diary to be? After all, I’ve decided to write one (I almost wrote ‘committed’ but that felt too formal, too much like a legally binding agreement – and if there’s one thing that these last few days have told me it’s that almost all the things that seemed so essential are probably much less so). Should I register the daily tallies of confirmed cases (200,000 according to WHO, worldwide)? Or should I focus on the news?
Two things spring to mind immediately. The first is that there is probably no way we will ever know the true number of cases, because some will be mild and some people won’t report them. The second thing is that thanks to Trump we have almost no testing kits and no resources. The sick are being urged to stay at home. Therefore they will not be statistics – and perhaps that’s what this administration wants. Even if they die they will probably not become statistics since no one can be sure what they’ve died of. And so the uncertainty grows.
Trump spoke last night about giving a cash handout to everyone – since so many people are unable to work. Forgive me if I’m skeptical about this. I’m sure he’ll find a way to delay such payments, and will make it hard for those who most need the cash to get it since the poor tend not to have electronic banking. I’ve no doubt that such a handout will also wind up being taxed. But, truly, I do not believe this handout will happen at all. Trump contradicts himself so regularly that I can imagine he’ll sink the effort himself and then blame the democrats. That would be his style.
Evidently this whole pandemic is making me, and folks like me, deeply suspicious of our Government – if we weren’t already.
The thing that puzzles me is the almost total lack of leadership from Washington. The job of a central government is to take the lead, make the necessary changes and take suggestions, provide instructions, re-assure, and be in charge. China, a place Trump loves to hate and yet still trade with, has built extra hospitals in a matter of weeks. Trump has said right from the start that he’s not ‘responsible’, that it’s not his problem to fix. So he won’t be doing much. He’s leaving it all up to individual states and cities. He’s certainly not building hospitals.
So now we know where the leadership really is. It’s in our hands.
Meanwhile reports are coming in of parties on the beaches of Florida as people disregard the whole quarantine idea. Presumably many of those people will swap microbes and then head back home, where ever that is, and keep the infection rate soaring. That’s another example of not taking responsibility.
At home here in Watertown, MA, the quiet is a tad unnerving. The birds seem very loud each morning, because they’re not blanketed out by the sounds of planes and cars. The roads are almost empty. Such cars as I see have developed the tactic of driving much faster than usual down our small roads. I suppose they figure there’ll be no one coming the other way, no pedestrians to avoid, nothing at all. The daily news helicopters monitoring the traffic are missing – well, there’s no traffic to speak of. The distant roar of the Mass Pike seems to be missing, too, and that has been a constant in my life day and night, since I first came here thirty years ago.
In the garden the rabbits come out and play that strange game they enjoy, where one runs towards another and the sitting rabbit jumps high to avoid a collision. They do this over and over.
Facebook gives us encouraging messages about how we can learn foreign languages for free on line, or tour museums virtually. All very laudable. But why I do feel as if I don’t want to do this? I don’t want to bring my life down to this screen for even more hours a day.