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The Virus: Week Eleven

Continued from The Collected Virus: Weeks 1-10

The next day was May 14. The FDA says that the Abbott COVID-19 test that Trump keeps promoting is faulty. On TV the ousted director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority is testifying that we are in deep shit, and tells the world that we are about to face the darkest winter in modern history. There are scattered reports of children coming down with a coronavirus-related illness that presents in a way similar to Kawasaki syndrome; nobody knows what it is yet but there are kids dying from it; and they say maybe you can transmit the virus to your dog; and they say now that even after you get the virus you can get infected with the virus again. Andrea Circle Bear dies from the virus in a prison in Texas, where they have “reopened” the economy and reported more virus cases than ever before. In death Andrea Circle Bear joins Tiffany Mofield, who begged to be let out of the locked shower just before she died. Neither woman could escape. The virus seems to love prisons almost as much as America does. The next day men in expensive jets fly over our cities to honor the frontline workers. One day after that I am frantically trying to learn how to teach without using a classroom this year. On the way home from visiting my father-in-law we watch this year’s graduates #GraduateTogether on my iPhone. We see the valedictorian speaking to her peers remotely; she’s from Santa Ana, just down the road. When they pay tribute to their teachers we are just driving past our campus, which I haven’t seen in months. All of the graduates are celebrating, all of them are facing this crisis with stoic calm, even with joy. I start welling up again when I think of the hole this virus is gouging into their future lives. Obama is speaking to them, he is speaking about the future and about hope and about this crisis, but it is as if he is a ghost from a distant past. The next day Trump claims he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine, which does not safeguard anyone from the virus, but which he keeps selling to the public anyway. The following day I am looking at images of the mass graves for the poor and anonymous dead in Brazil. One day after that I keep thinking it’s Tuesday. Singapore just sentenced a man to death by hanging via Zoom call in order for all parties involved to stay healthy and safe; and numerous states with Republican governors are actively fudging or bungling virus testing data; and a hurricane is bearing down on India and Bangladesh. My left foot hurts from too much walking, which is my only escape from the house. My right shoulder has hurt for two months because of the awkward positions of my fitful sleep. My left hand and wrist and elbow and the entire left side of my neck and skull ache and throb from too much typing, which is now the entirety of my job: typing and typing and typing and typing; reading and commenting and critiquing and grading and assessing and replying and typing. My big toe got smashed when I tried to grab too many hand sanitizers at Target (limit four). My knuckles are dry and cracked and bloody. My gut is expanding because I don’t go anywhere or do anything, I just sit and work and sit and watch and sit and scroll and sit and work some more. My head and my chest and my back and every part of my body is sore and tired and tense, two months of sitting and waiting and working and keeping the sorrow and the misery at bay another hour and another day. Those of us who know know that all of what’s going on will keep going on for a very long time. The day after that was May 20. Indivisible protestors are holding a national day of mourning; they are carrying enormous lumps that look like occupied body bags and dumping them in front of the White House. In Michigan, where men with guns threaten lawmakers and Trump threatens to withhold federal funds if the governor doesn’t make it harder for people to vote, two dams have burst, and the floodwaters are rising.

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