Tuesday, March 17, 2020

on the verge

It's 10:45 AM on the first day of the shutdown, and two things have just happened:

1) I got an automated phone call from the county, telling me of the shutdown. Oh really? Perhaps they waited until now so they could prepare the other item mentioned in the phone call, which is their official website about it.

Terrific, but how are the people who rely on the computers at public libraries - I see them there in great numbers every time I visit - going to access this website, or anything else on the internet? Because the libraries are, of course, closed.

2) B. has come home from work. Rather to her surprise, she'd received last night, after she'd normally have gone to bed on a work night, an e-mail defining her workplace as an Essential Business. Because they've got to have computer data storage, even though there's no shortage of it. B. works with a lot of people from Asia, who visit there frequently. Her supervisor is actually from very near in China from where the virus broke out, so it's a good thing he didn't go back for a visit last December as he usually does at that time of year.

So B. went to work this morning and spent the time persuading them that a person in a few of the heightened risk categories should not be there, and they finally sent her home.

Meanwhile ... three weeks of sheltering, that seems tolerable. I'll miss checking out library books, but maybe I can re-learn the incredibly bizarre, complex, and unintuitive methods for checking out e-books. Absent anything urgent showing up, the only thing I regularly need to leave home for is groceries, since we have limited room to store staples and frozen things, and we live mostly on vegetables which are perishable. So I hope the panic buying dies down soon. We'll run out of toilet paper in several weeks, so I hope I can find some before then.

The problem is, I doubt it's going to be just three weeks. Here and here is the data showing that if the shutdown is to serve its intended purpose of flattening the health-care need curve, it'll have to be in effect for some two years, and even then it will only have a modest effect on the fatality rate.

And I doubt that will be tolerable, not to mention the effect that even the three-week version will have on the economy. (I expect a lot of restaurants to close permanently. I'd like to support them by ordering takeout, but is there a list of who's offering that? I don't want to have to check a whole bunch one-by-one.) There may be newer and fiercer rules being put into place long before the three weeks are over. Remember that three weeks ago from now there were no closures or restrictions. I went to three open concerts during that next week. Everything's been piled on us bit by bit since then, and I don't expect it to stop now.

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