Continued from The Virus: Week Twenty-Four
By the next day, schools were beginning to reopen around the country, and new clusters of the virus predictably began to emerge. The federal government is not tracking the spread of the virus in the schools, and each day new schools report spikes in virus numbers. Biden remotely accepts the Democratic nomination; because of the virus, there are virtual people on screens behind him, clapping; and socially distanced people in masks are watching it all on big screens from their socially distanced cars. Biden and Harris and their spouses go outside in their black masks to wave to their distanced supporters as fireworks fill the sky. The next day, after having just opened, UNC is already reporting a percent-positive jump from 2% to 13%, and their cases, as on many other campuses who forced people back to campus, are already increasing enormously. There is a photo by Noah Berger of the wildfires raging in California, and alongside the terrifying blaze a large outdoor sign reads WEAR A MASK — WASH YOUR HANDS — SOCIAL DISTANCE — STAY SAFE. The day after that, as we go to visit my father-in-law again, it is clear that the number of homeless encampments along the 405 continues to grow, week after week. Up in Portland, police are standing by while right-wing militias wave guns and brawl with antifascist protestors; DHS agents are using violent mobs of Qanon followers, Proud Boys, and other neo-Nazi groups to attack masked Black Lives Matter protestors, then an unlawful assembly is declared after the antifascists push them out of the city. In just five days, more land has burned in California than in all of 2019, the second and third largest fires ever recorded in California are burning simultaneously. The day after that we hear that our niece with the virus is still having trouble breathing, weeks after her recovery began. This is the same day that police in Kenosha will shoot Jacob Blake in the back seven times. But just a day after that it’s time for the new semester to begin, the first day of our first fully-online semester, as the virus numbers keep ticking up; and it’s the first day of the RNC, where Trump and his family are giving a series of speeches from the White House and other federal grounds. Two storms are slowly approaching the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. The day after that, the first reinfection cases of the virus are being reported in Europe and Hong Kong. The virus may be mutating. This suggests that immunity in some people who’ve caught the virus might only last a few months, which also means that herd immunity by natural infection is unlikely to eliminate this virus. Vaccination will be the best hope, and there is no real vaccine yet on the horizon, nor will there be for quite some time, although Trump and his cronies keep insisting one is just around the corner. The day after that, Kenosha’s chief of police, whose officers worked alongside the right-wing militias that have descended on the BLM protests in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, gets on national TV and blames the victims after a 17-year-old kid with an assault rifle killed two protestors. The Milwaukee Bucks announce that they are striking tonight, and so do the players of the WNBA, standing in solidarity with the protestors protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake and the murder of two protestors by the aspiring cop with the assault rifle. The WNBA players are wearing shirts with seven bullet holes in the back. Game 5 of the playoffs won’t be played. OKC and the Rockets then do the same; and then, as quickly as wildfire spreads, all WNBA and NBA games are postponed or canceled tonight, night three of the RNC, as Hurricane Laura bears down on Texas and Louisiana. The hurricane offshore is now already reversing the flow of the Mississippi River; it is the strongest hurricane to hit Louisiana in 160 years; and the official US death toll from the virus has just passed 180,000 souls. Then MLB players and teams begin to announce that they’re striking too; then MLS, then tennis players, and more, and more and more; and now as evening approaches, basketball teams are gathered in a giant Disney hotel ballroom and deliberating the future of the playoffs altogether. The Lakers and the Clippers then vote to boycott the NBA season, and having done so, LeBron James walks out of the meeting, on strike, as other teams stay behind to sort out whether they’re also striking or not. Today marks four years to the day that Colin Kaepernick took a knee for the first time. On TV, just one day before Donald Trump will formally accept the nomination for President, the sports announcer Mike Tirico says that this is probably the largest, most widespread day of sports activism that our country has ever seen.