July 18, 2020

The best laid schemes o’ mice and men, Gang aft a-gley

To a Mouse (1785) Robert Burns.

If we ever had hope that warm weather would bring a summer lull, we know better now. “Researchers watch hopefully as virus meets warmer weather,” said an NBC headline in early May. But here we are in mid-July and not only have we seen a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, but the highest numbers are in the hottest states: Texas, Florida, Arizona, and California. Well might we ask, as did the North Carolina News & Observer in July: “It’s summer, it’s hot and sunny, and COVID-19 didn’t go away. Why not?”

Great question! as professional moderators like to say. Maybe it’s the nature of the virus, maybe it’s because the virus is adjusting to its new human environment, or maybe we thought reopening meant reopening, as in going back to “normal.” The virus has only been around six months. It may turn out to be seasonal–down the line. Or not. As they say in the song, it’s way too soon to know.

I got in just under the wire on a few things–managed to get my hair and toenails touched up in the last three weeks. Now they’re closed again, along with indoor dining, gyms, indoor worship services, malls, movies theaters . . . Actually I’ve lost track. I know we can look it up on https://covid19.ca.gov/stay-home-except-for-essential-needs/#open but I operate more on a need-to-go basis.

I needed to go out twice this week. Wednesday I went to the Honda dealer for routine maintenance and to check out the tires, etc. before our upcoming road trip. I chose to wait and read while they worked on the car. 3 or 4 other people sat masked and separated around the room, reading or texting. The funny thing was that although they had the signs and masks and plastic barriers, I didn’t take any pictures. Something in my brain now accepts that it’s normal to put on a mask before walking into a car dealership.

But it’s not. And if I’m going to chronicle life during this pandemic of 2020 I need to be an alert observer of what is unique to this time in history. So if I seem to be recording trivia, it’s all part of tomorrow’s story.

Friday I visited my primary care physician to have a mole checked out. I’ve heard sad stories of people who neglected health issues because of COVID-19 worries. So I texted via the physician portal on Wednesday and they asked if I could come in Friday at 9 AM. I appeared to be the first patient. Someone checked my temperature as I entered and gave me a disposable mask to wear because the vented mask I was wearing was “less safe.” She handed me a printed statement explaining why. The reception desk was shielded with clear plastic. Instead of signing in, you give your name and they sign you in. Every other chair in the waiting room is labeled so that you don’t sit next to anyone. But no one else was there.

The assistant called my name and took me to the examination room. She said she could weigh me or I could tell her my weight. I gave her a nice round number, which she recorded. Then she took my blood pressure and pulse and oxygen saturation (that’s new) and said the doctor would be right in. And he was. Good news, the mole was benign. He froze it.

He keyed everything into the computer. And then he said, “Good! You’ve lost a little weight!” And I said, “Thank you.”

I saw another patient enter the office as I left. I asked if this was a slow day, but the receptionist said, no they have a patient every fifteen minutes today. So I guess they are spacing them.

My strategy for now is to lay low and learn all I can. I’m expecting an improvement in therapeutics in the fall and a gradual return to some kind of normal in the new year. I’m hopeful that we will have a safe effective vaccine in the next year, but there are many variables along that path and I want to keep my expectations moderate.

In the meantime, I have a few updates to previous articles which I will give you below:

  1. The DMV (Day 120): One of my sources who went to San Clemente was able to renew his driver’s license in person by showing up before they opened and standing in line outside as they let a limited number of people in at a time. Later another friend told me seniors over 70 with California licenses expiring from March to December 2020 now have a year’s extension. Look up on https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/covid-19-relief-information/driver-license-extensions/ and scroll down for the updated information. I’m going to wait until next year.
  2. Aerosol spread (Day 122): This article had a tip to keep the air moving: use a fan. Bring it with you. In addition: open the windows and keep your space. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/07/11/889716534/coronavirus-faq-how-do-i-protect-myself-if-the-coronavirus-can-linger-in-the-air
  3. Herd immunity (Day 126): Soon after I posted my article, I saw this excellent article in the New York Times. The author reaches the same conclusion, but brings in some fascinating additional historical information: “Your Ancestors Knew Death in Ways You Never Will,” NYT, July 15, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/15/sunday-review/coronavirus-history-pandemics.html

Signing off for now. Take care.

You are on History’s Edge.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“Researchers watch hopefully as virus meets warmer weather,” NBC News, May 6, 2020. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/researchers-watch-hopefully-virus-meets-warmer-weather-n1201501

“It’s summer, it’s hot and sunny, and COVID-19 didn’t go away. Why not?” The News & Observer, North Carolina, Matthew Dasio, June 29, updated July 10, 2020. https://www.newsobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article243827282.html

“Newsom orders statewide reclosure of indoor dining, limits on church services, salons,” Los Angeles Times, July 13, 2020. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-07-13/newsom-california-county-rollback-reopening-coronavirus

“Coronavirus: Boris Johnson ‘does not want second national lockdown,’ ” BBC News, July 18, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-53460714?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/topics/c32p7j550qnt/coronavirus-lockdown-measures&link_location=live-reporting-story

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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