Corona Virus Diaries – May 8, 2020

Our county now is showing 35 known cases of Corona virus. I say “known” because we didn’t have abundant testing until very recently. Who knows how many people have had it already. I don’t think it’s been that prevalent – our nursing homes didn’t seem to have an outbreak. We now have a drive-thru testing site about 20 minutes south of us near the State Police barracks. Until there is anti-body testing, it’s impossible to say how many people were exposed in the area though.

2013 was my “year from hell”, to co-opt a Star Trek: Voyager episode. For anyone who doesn’t know, that year I lost my mother to cancer in February. In April my mother-in-law died. In June my oldest daughter committed suicide. My aunt died in October. In December, an internet friend who I knew for many years who shared the exact same birthday as me died of a massive heart attack. I started out 2014 by taking a fall on the ice at the hotel where I was a night manager and sustaining a severe concussion. I had started anti-depressants when my mother was dying. For many years I had struggled with depression and not known it or acknowledged it. With everything that happened in that year, my brain was pretty screwed up. I tried varying medications but I’ve never been 100% again. I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and PTSD (I had discovered my daughter’s body).

PTSD is not fun. I didn’t even know that was what I was experiencing at first when it happened. I would be lying in bed, convinced there was someone in the room standing over me, and it was a malevolent presence. I thought my daughter or my mother was angry with me and was haunting me. (I do believe in “ghosts” but that’s for another time.) I’d be laying in bed, paralyzed with fear until something snapped. Sometimes I’d wake up screaming. There was one time I remember laying in bed, sort of half-asleep, convinced there was someone in the room with us and I woke up screaming for someone to “Get the gun!”. Fortunately, our guns are always securely locked up and unloaded and we were in a hotel room at the time.

In 2017 I got tired of how I felt on all of the medication and quit them. Bad idea. The anti-depressants were added back but not as strong, but I did manage to stop taking the PTSD meds. All has been good until recently. The vivid dreams where I wake-up mid-dream screaming are back. Last night I was having a dream with a vivid argument with my mother and woke up mid-argument, yelling at her. Yes, I was yelling out loud and woke up the spouse.

I’ve been trying to stress from the beginning the mental toll this will take on people. Fear of the unknown is a tough thing. There are so many unknowns with this, especially fear of getting the virus and fear of a loved one getting the virus. America does not have a good social safety net and those fears are very real as well. Up here we’re in the time of year many people make money that carries them through the year, so there’s also a fear of a loss of income, loss of home, loss of vehicles, fear of hunger; just a general fear of what tomorrow brings because not getting the disease can be as big a disaster for people as getting it can be.

It’s one of the reason a lot of people want to get back to work. I watched a lot of friends dismiss this as the rich wanting the poor to get back to work so they can eat out. I’m sure that’s a part of it, but the other part is there’s no plan in place for those on the lower end of the economic spectrum to survive this. Many of those people want to get back to work. It’s not that they don’t fear the virus, but the virus is the unknown. They know they have bills that have to be paid. They know there is rent that might be deferred right now, but eventually will be due. Utilities have to be paid, car payments, food purchased, etc. The unemployment bonus runs out on July 31. My son is on that right now and without that bonus he would be collecting $69 per week for unemployment. I can guarantee oil companies up here won’t be delivering on credit this winter unless you’ve been established with them a long time. It’s hard to figure out how to heat your home and buy food on $69 per week even if you can’t be evicted or have the utilities shut off.

I am fortunate not to have those fears hanging over me, but plenty of people do. It’s a scary time for a lot of reasons, and most people are talking but not listening to other people and what’s going on. If you truly think people should not be going back to work, then you need to be out there advocating for a safety net extended for them through next winter. Unfortunately, I don’t think it would really matter as the current leaders in Washington don’t care much about the “least among us.” That’s not going to change until January 2021, at the earliest, and my feeling is the death toll from this disease is the price we are paying for allowing these past four years to happen.

6 replies »

  1. I wish fervently that the coronavirus would peter itself out and we could all go back to “before.” I really do. For purely selfish reasons as well as the “I want everyone to be okay and do what they need to do” ones.

    The reality, though, is that a return to normal isn’t going to happen soon. COVID-19 cases in my state are not decreasing. Florida is not as bad off as, say, New York City alone, but we DO have a Trump-supporting governor and a Republican-controlled legislature, so Floridians might soon be a Petri dish for “Reopen America.” The powers-that-be are even pressuring coroners to NOT publish figures of COVID-19 fatalities.

    And even if the GOP geniuses do announce medically-sound guidelines for relaxing stay-at-home orders, I’ve seen way too many people who scoff at the six-foot distance rule and claim that it’s all a conspiracy for government to take control or that it’s all fake news. Or they refuse to wear masks. Or they will mass in bunches trying to create “herd immunity.” Or they’ll shoot some poor bastard at a store who denies them service because they won’t wear the aforementioned masks or keep a six-foot gap between customers. So I’m concerned that (a) we will see more cases of COVID-19 and, of course, deaths.

    So, yeah. I think Americans on both sides of the aisles are paying the price for the results of the 2016 elections. And I seriously think we are witnessing the death of our nation.

    • I said yesterday to someone that the future really depends on the 2020 election. If Trump is not voted out, we are doomed. Everything we count on in this country that makes us “great” will be eviscerated. Many, many people will die and it won’t matter who you voted for. You will not be protected because you vote for this idiot/ (That’s a general “you” – not directed specifically at you, Alex).

      But yeah, I know people who are already worried about heating their homes and putting food on the table next winter if they don’t make money over the summer. Preventing the disease doesn’t matter to them, not because they are “selfish” but because they know what happens if they can’t do those things. This administration will not do a thing to help them. If it wasn’t an election year, I doubt we would have gotten what we have already.

      • I know that we have to try and reopen the country. It’s not realistic to expect otherwise.

        My worry is that the people who are making the decisions at the various levels of government are politicians. And though this sounds cynical as hell, politicians from all parties usually listen more to their wealthy donors than to experts or to constituents. That’s why one medical expert looked at Governor Ron DeSantis’ plan to reopen Florida and called it a “political statement” and not a “medically-sound plan.”

        And as I said previously, a large percentage of the adult population tends to rebel against rules of any kind, regardless of whether the rules benefit everyone, not just the “rule-maker.” I remember seeing a news article on my Facebook newsfeed about a woman who argued that “six feet’s distance” varied from person to person and was not, by her definition, a measurable distance. With so much willful ignorance, the INEVITABLE (emphasis added) reopening of the U.S. will see a spike in COVID-19 cases. Not just because the novel coronavirus mutates, but because people will gleefully forget social distancing and behave as though the pandemic were over.

  2. Patty, I knew most of your story, but not all of it. Please accept a virtual *HUG*.

    I’ve been calling for single-payer universal health care for so long, I’m beginning to sound like Bernie Sanders without a Brooklyn accent. Working on the white hair, though. No, it isn’t the answer to all our problems, but it provides a level playing field for a lot of them. And the stray comments from some government officials, like the Lt. Governor of Texas who said he and other “grandparents” would be willing to risk death from COVID-19 so their grandchildren could enjoy the kind of America they knew rings of death worship. WTF is wrong with these guys?

    I just don’t know what to do but act kindly and call out the bullshit when it arises.

    My best wishes to both you and Alex. Stay safe.

    • Thank you. Yes, I would love universal healthcare. I have working-class friends in the UK who are fighting to keep their NHS. It seems to be working well for them, contrary to what some people want to depict. My son currently gets infusions of Remicaide every 8 weeks to keep his Crohns disease in remission. Each one costs $15k. It’s outrageous. No middle-class person could afford those treatments and he’d be excluded from any insurance if they brought back exclusions for pre-existing conditions. I always have that hanging over me as well. When it really looked like they would repeal the ACA (which is currently his only hope of remaining insured and affording the treatments) I nearly had a breakdown and came to the conclusion that quality of life matters over quantity which is a reason I take him traveling so much. I’d really like single-payer. It would make life easier for so many people and alleviate so many fears.

  3. “Each one costs $15k.” WHAT! Oh, my gosh, that’s horrible.

    I have relatives in Europe. Again, it’s not the answer to everything, but the idea of going bankrupt because of medicare bills is not a problem.

    So much pain and suffering can be avoided with a lot of preventative care. No one escapes death. We might as well make life as comfortable as we can.

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