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June 17, 2020

A lesson from my avid traveler dad: When you arrive in a new place, take pictures right away. You only see things with fresh eyes once. Fortunately my friends and family are out there helping me with their fresh eyes, because I can’t be everywhere and things are changing so fast. I was lucky to hear from three people today.

First, a friend of mine texted me this morning about getting his lab test. “Had to wait in the hallway,” he wrote, “because they only allowed six people in at once . . . Don’t think this is anything exciting for your blog, but I thought I’d mention it.”

No, it’s not exciting right now. The novelty has worn off. But even that is an important milestone. Look at where we are! In February you would have objected if they only let six people inside the waiting room and made everyone else wait in the hallway or outside. In March your routine lab tests would have been postponed. Now you wait patiently 6 feet apart in the hallway and it’s okay, because that’s what you have to do to get into anything–the barber shop, Costco, Trader Joe’s.

My granddaughter texted me about her first post-lockdown hair cut. She had to text the stylist before entering. Her stylist wore a mask but let the clients choose. About 60 % chose not to wear their mask, she said. Each washing station was separated by clear dividers and the chairs were disinfected after use. If you want to see an example of how much hair salons have to go through in order to open up in California, see the article about the East Bay hair salon below. Opening up is a crazy expensive process for so many businesses right now.

How will all this sound in September, I wonder. Not enough? Too much? Missing the mark or right on? We’re in the middle of something here. A good time for humility, as epidemiologist Michael Osterholm said on WBUR today.

Which brings me to my third source of the day. My neighbor listened to Fresh Air on NPR today and told me about the new edition of Osterholm’s book, Deadliest Enemy : Our War Against Killer Germs. I looked it up right away. The book was published in 2017, but it has a fresh relevance now and a new preface bringing it into perspective in the COVID-19 environment. I ordered the book and while I was at it I ordered Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen. I’m already in the middle of Spillover on Kindle, but it is so full of information that I want to be able to make notes in the margins or even let someone borrow it when I’m done.

While I’m reading about viruses, let me know what you’ve observed or heard about out in the wide world of reopening. I have a feeling that even the most ordinary experience today is going to sound very strange tomorrow.

This is History’s Edge.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“Here’s what East Bay hair salon had to do to reopen amid coronavirus pandemic: ‘It is so overwhelming,’ ” ABC News, https://abc7news.com/coronavirus-update-lockdown-california-phase-three-bay-area/6249287/

“Amid Confusion About Reopening, An Expert Explains How To Assess COVID-19 Risk,” NPR, Fresh Air, Michael Osterholm, https://www.npr.org/2020/06/17/879255417/amid-confusion-about-reopening-an-expert-explains-how-to-assess-covid-risk

“Infectious Disease Expert Urges ‘Humility’ As Coronavirus Cases Rebound In Some States,” WBUR, Here & Now, Michael Osterholm, June 17, 2020. https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2020/06/17/infectious-disease-expert-coronavirus-spike

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the events of these days from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.

You are on History’s Edge.

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