Continued from The Virus: Week Nine
The next day was May 7. I never go anywhere anymore except to see my father-in-law or grab groceries and supplies. Trump’s personal valet has tested positive for the virus that Trump has been trying to ignore all year. Outside of Target a teacher was talking to someone. They went back to their class after six weeks to collect all their students’ stuff now that school is ending. The administrative skeleton crew cloistered there gave them a bunch of masks and gloves. “What am I supposed to do with these now?” the teacher asked. I had just noticed that my hands had finally stopped cracking and bleeding this past week, and then a few hours later, a huge crack reappeared across my middle knuckle, and I started bleeding again.
By the next day it was being reported that a second staffer in the White House has the virus. The unemployment rate has more than quadrupled in just two months. It is now the highest it has been since the Great Depression. I only know a handful of people still alive now that were also alive during the Great Depression. Work has begun in earnest on getting fully trained to teach online with the proper certification. I’ve been home for months, cooking every day, My waistline keeps expanding.
By the following day, a majority of states in the country are already pushing to phased reopening, even as the numbers of cases and deaths continue to climb, and no one has a plan to do anything about it. On a nearby street there are several discarded masks on the ground. The first seedlings from our quarantine garden have started to appear, and given the ongoing shortages in stores, I am now at the able-to-tell-you-the-relative-merits-of-different-brands-of-toilet-paper phase of quarantine. There’s still no flour or garlic anywhere; you grab what you can.
By May 10, my wife is still being sent to the front lines to deal with the public at work throughout the week; they continue to harangue the workers about procedures, wait times, and where the queues are placed. They demand their cut of the money from the government programs that have already run out of money. They throw insults and waste time and refuse to wear masks. The nicest customer of the day tells her that she loves the masks my wife has made for everyone there, and confesses that she has “mask envy.”
The next day I try not to think about any of it and just do my work and stay home. I work; I walk; I write; I read; I clean; I cook.
Just one day later, Dr. Fauci and others are testifying remotely before the Senate on the crisis, trying to convey the grim facts that await states that try to pretend like the worst is past, and try to open too soon, when there is still no overarching plan in place, when there is still no one steering the ship. At the same time, the Supreme Court began to hear arguments about Trump’s tax returns. My father-in-law is confusing bedrooms with bathrooms; he’s forgetting if you put things into trash cans or if you’re supposed to take things out of them. You can see what’s happening but you can’t do anything to keep it from happening.
The next day I try to not to think about any of this. This is the end of ten weeks of thinking about the virus. I try not to think at all. I try to just do my work and stay home. One day soon ten weeks will seem like nothing. I try to imagine what ten months will look like, and who will still be here to endure it. It would be nice to not have to think about any of this anymore.