June 19, 2020

We’ve been watching Season Six of a reality series called “Alone” on Netflix. Ten people compete to see who can survive the longest on their own in the Arctic wilderness. Last night on Day 29 they were struggling with isolation and loneliness even more than from hunger. Lying awake last night I thought, the worst part is that it’s open-ended. If they knew, for example, that it would be over on Day 35 they would make that final push.

We are on Day 101. One hundred days have elapsed since March 11, when WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Abandoned playgrounds

Back on February 28, the Los Angeles Times Science Section ran an article on how COVID-19 might change life as we know it. “Empty restaurants. Abandoned playgrounds. Schools shuttered for weeks,” they predicted. It sounded like science fiction. At that time there were only 60 cases in the United States, and, of those, only one person had not traveled outside the U.S. New Orleans had just celebrated Mardi Gras, the Summer Olympic Games were still on, and Vegas was still open for business.

Mid-March was the turning point: a month of lockdowns, travel bans, and event cancellations, including the Olympics. Schedules were thrown into confusion. People planning a wedding, a vacation, or a graduation didn’t know whether to cancel or postpone–and postpone until when? May? June? July? What did they mean by “essential businesses”? What about school? Should it close for a couple of weeks or the rest of the semester? What about churches?

March 2020: Measuring the impact to the arts

The arts were hit hard. The choral group I sing in, The Festival Singers, together with the Lyric Opera of Orange County and the South Coast Symphony were scheduled to perform H.M.S. Pinafore on March 27. It was rescheduled for April 24 and then postponed until possibly fall. We weren’t alone. Arts Orange County https://artsoc.org/ surveyed the arts community and issued a press release describing the financial impact of the job losses, canceled performances, and reduced donations. Multiply that by all the counties across the United States. (See Arts OC’s list of online/virtual events on https://www.sparkoc.com/).

On March 19 the governor put California under a stay-at-home order through April 19. Surely by summer things will be normal, we thought. Today is June 19. Although some businesses are reopening (including Las Vegas), they don’t look normal. The masks and distancing remind us that COVID-19 is still here. With cases increasing, California has just issued a state regulation that requires masks “in common and public indoor spaces and outdoors when distancing is not possible.” (https://covid19.ca.gov/)

Summer 2020. Baseball on hold. Disneyland Anaheim scheduled to open July 17, but the union representing its employees says it’s too soon.The American Pyrotechnic Association reports that, sadly, most of the 16,000 fireworks displays across the country have been cancelled this year.

We are in a transitional period which is open-ended. According to the Johns Hopkins Dashboard, cases are up in India, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru, and the United States. Here in the U.S., cases are up in Texas, Arizona, and California. (https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/new-cases). It’s Day 101 and we don’t know when a vaccine might make a difference or when testing and contact tracing will enable us to control the spread. We don’t know whether a surge will come in the fall or what the rules will be. Open-ended means we have to adjust to not knowing the future. But isn’t that what we have to do anyway?

On the plus side, much progress has been made in treating, testing, vaccine development, and understanding the disease. We will come through this. But it begins to look like we should keep our plans in pencil for the rest of the year.

Today’s Notable Headlines:

“Coronavirus updates: California hits record 4,000 cases in a day; mask order in place,” The Sacramento Bee, June 19, 2020. https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus-updates-california-hits-record-171358363.html

“New Coronavirus Cases Soar Worldwide and Surge in Some States — See What’s Happening in Your Area,” People, June 19, 2020. https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/coronavirus-cases-soar-worldwide-surge-210131732.html

“Coronavirus concerns will extinguish most fireworks shows this Fourth of July,” Orange County Register, June 17, 2020. https://www.ocregister.com/2020/06/17/coronavirus-concerns-will-extinguish-most-fireworks-shows-this-fourth-of-july/

“Disneyland worker’s union requests California governor delay reopening set for July,” Charlotte Observer, June 19, 2020. https://news.yahoo.com/disneyland-worker-union-requests-california-192428652.html

“Las Vegas reopening: Here’s your guide to what’s open and what’s closed,” USA Today, June 18, 2020. https://news.yahoo.com/las-vegas-reopening-heres-guide-202858888.html

Referred to in this article:

“How daily life in the U.S. will change as the coronavirus outbreak enters a new phase,” Science, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 28, 2020. https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-02-28/daily-life-with-coronavirus-changes

Arts Orange County https://artsoc.org/

Major League Baseball/Angels https://www.mlb.com/angels/schedule/2020-06

American Pyrotechnic Association. https://www.americanpyro.com/

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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