Friday, March 6, 2020

corona chaosium

If I were younger and in robust health, I wouldn't worry too much about the coronavirus. For people in that category, it doesn't seem to be any worse than an ordinary flu, and the usual precautions would be sufficient, with the usual unpleasantness to follow if they fail. But being in a couple of the higher-risk categories, I want to be more cautious. Plane flights and airports are an excellent vector to get sick. I have three such trips scheduled for spring and summer, and if things don't clear up by then - and if this is going to be anything like the 1918 pandemic, they won't - I'm probably going to have to cancel on two, and drive to the third and closest, which will probably take me the better part of three days.

Assuming they're on at all, because closing public events - for now, just the next month's worth or so - is the latest manifestation. I'm not in favor of cowering in terror, and I wasn't going to worry about concerts and other performances: the ones I attend are not large events, and I've never caught anything from them, unlike large conventions.

But now I have to. The first indication of that I saw was when Stanford's Music Department announced at the start of this week that they were cancelling all their performances for the next month. Then on Wednesday I went to a concert at Bing sponsored by Stanford Live (the university's concert promoter, an entirely separate sub-entity) to learn from the introductory remarks by the sponsor's director that Stanford was ordering the cancellation over the same period of all public events drawing more than 150 people. This was the last one in under the wire. (It wasn't heavily attended and there may have been not much more than 150 people there. I was there to review it, and that'll be up soon.)

The director spoke as if we already knew this, but I'd heard nothing and there had been no news items about it, though, on later checking, I found unpretentious announcements on both the Stanford Live and main university websites. But there's great confusion. Today, Friday, on the radio I heard an ad for a Stanford Live event less than four weeks from now. It's been cancelled.

And there's more. The cat show this weekend, cancelled by order of the county, whose venue it uses. The concert I'm reviewing tomorrow, not cancelled but closed to the public and to be livestreamed. The organizer has invited me, as the reviewer, to attend anyway, and since to me being there makes all the difference in reviewing, I shall.

Meanwhile, two theater companies I'm on the mailing list for, Berkeley Rep and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, have announced that their shows are going on. They're just going to scrub down their theaters a lot and ask audiences to take sensible precautions. The Freight and Salvage, the folk and roots music venue, is taking the same tack.

One thing I have been doing is making a point of having lunch in Chinese restaurants, not that I don't often do that anyway. I've been reading articles about such places deserted by Western customers making the racist equation of Chinese = virus. These would be Americanized Chinese restaurants, obviously; the ones designed for a Chinese customer base aren't going to be attracting many ignorant westerners at any time. I want to do my part to counteract the fallacy, but maybe it doesn't apply here, because the ones I've been in this week don't look any less busy than they normally are at that hour.

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