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The Virus: Week Eight

Continued from The Virus: Week Seven

The next day was April 23. An email was sent out to inform us that classes may very well remain online through at least Fall 2020, and that perhaps 25%, 50%, or 100% of part-time faculty could lose their jobs. For the third time in three days I keep thinking that it’s March, that April is almost here, and how it’s already hot outside, and the heat is already seeping inside as it does in the deathly months of summer. “This heat!” I think. In March! But then, for already the third time, I have to remind myself that March was when everything stopped. It’s not nearing the end of March; it is April, and has been all month; and April is already somehow nearly done. There is a sudden inexplicable shooting pain in my chest at 1:17pm, and a steady flood of anxiety for an hour or more, longer than I’ve endured in months. 

The next day they tell us that there are officially more than 50,000 dead in America. The one person we know with it seems to be recovering.

A day after that, as we head to go see my father-in-law and visit him in his dementia, we spot a cop stalking the carefree drivers on the empty freeway. When we get there a pregnant pit-bull is on the loose; she is skulking around and sniffing the wind, and keeps looking this way and that, but she can’t figure out where she is, or where home is. We wait ten minutes for her to slink away before we risk getting out of the car.

The next day I try not to think about it.

The day after that, I stay busy enough to almost avoid thinking about it.

By the following day they are telling us that there are now over one million confirmed cases of the virus in the United States.I know one person whose annual household income is $200,000; a $2400 stimulus check magically appeared in their bank account. I know dozens of people making much, much less than that, and most of them haven’t received a dime.

The day after that was a Wednesday, April 29. We are not yet dead; we’re not yet sick; we’re not yet unemployed. The cash-strapped schools are offering “retirement incentives” to many employees. In a group email sent out to all of his esteemed colleagues and friends, our dean announces his retirement. He hadn’t planned to retire. He had worked here for 36 years.

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