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Updated: Aug 28, 2020

April 3, 2020

Today we heard from a friend who is friends with a NYC cop that a very stringent lockdown is coming. We’re not sure when. We assume it’ll extend to us too since New Jersey and Connecticut have been grouped with New York almost from the beginning.

And today our state remains the one with the second-highest number of confirmed cases, surpassed only by New York.

So Stephanie went out yesterday and bought groceries, even though we still had a lot of stuff. But we know if we wait for an official announcement we’ll have to battle crowds at the stores. She shopped in an almost deserted store, showered immediately when she got home. She’s still the one going out because we both feel my asthma puts me at greater risk, plus I’m 5 years older. The 5 years might not matter but the asthma does.

Where we live, hoarding isn’t happening as much (finally yesterday we scored toilet paper!) But if word gets out about the new lock down, the hoarders will come out for more.

Grocery shopping has become a big thing for everyone. It’s one of the few good reasons left to go out. In other countries, even grocery shopping hasn’t been allowed. In the US we’re still waiting for a nationwide shelter-in-place order, which may never come.

Steph and I are using delivery only minimally because the one time I placed a full grocery order, it took 8 days to arrive and then was full of substitutions. While we’re at home it feels important to get what we want, what we can do the most with. We’ve only ordered from restaurants twice and both times it was ridiculously exciting for me. To not cook! To not even have to rummage in the kitchen! But I admit the risk scares me.

Today and yesterday I noticed I didn’t wake up and experience that unsettling boomerang effect: the blissful not remembering, those first few peaceful minutes. Then the jolt. The getting up knowing the whole day will feel wrong, crazy, terrifying, like living through scene after scene of a dark dystopian movie you can’t quite follow the plot of.

I’ve been at home for about a month now. It feels like longer. Only this week have some parts of this strange and creepy new life started to feel ... less strange and creepy. A ton of jokes now on social media about hand-washing, eating all day, sex in the afternoon, squabbles with family. People are being good sports; they’re trying to look on the bright side, maybe trying to find upbeat things to post about. But also I think we’re adjusting. We hate it, we’re scared, we’re angry, but we adjust, because what else is there to do?

The news, bad every day, is getting worse. We still haven’t hit what the experts are calling “the top of the curve” in New York. There the total number of cases is now reported at 102,863. The death toll is 2,935.

We’re getting numb to the statistics. In the US today, 1,095,134 cases, 58,791 deaths. A better number: 228,109 who recovered.

For a lot of Americans today the issue of PPE in hospitals is overshadowing every other horrifying thing. Instead of distributing desperately needed supplies directly to hospitals, the federal government is sending the supplies into the private market, we learned yesterday. Apparently the Trump administration is doing this to promote the market economy.

At yesterday’s presser it was announced that the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is now “in charge” of the White House coronavirus effort. Jared’s quote on the news was “it’s supposed to be our stockpile” — meaning not intended for the medical staffers, the hospitals or even the states. A confounding statement. And no one understands why he was put in charge, the fourth or fifth such appointee. The President himself has been very clear: the coronavirus crisis is for states to handle. The federal government is only going to provide “backup.”

Everyone is just bewildered by Trump right now, or at least it seems that way to me.

The President who dismantled the National Security Council’s global health security office in 2019, after being warned the US was unprepared for a pandemic, is now criticizing “the states” for lack of preparedness. They should have had more ventilators, PPE and equipment on hand, he says "just in case." In case of ... an epidemic the Feds weren't prepared for either? No, make that a pandemic.

He also accuses some governors of inflating the quantities of supplies they’ve asked the federal government for. To New York Gov. Cuomo’s request, Trump responded, “I’m sure you don’t need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.”

Today in front of hospitals, medical personnel wearing face masks and scrubs held up signs reading, “Protect our lives” along with photos of loved ones and patients who died of the virus.

At some moments of the day it feels like all of us are falling endlessly through a toxic cloud made of worry, fear, guilt, anger, confusion and dread. We just keep falling. The only respite is sleep, and then we wake up and it starts all over again.

The country is as bitterly divided as ever, with the right accusing the left of a irrational and vindictive hatred of Trump and anything he does, and the left accusing Trump, Fox News and the GOP of callousness, greed, gross mismanagement of the crisis, and lying to the public.

But now people from both sides are asking why the President and his task force are not taking stronger action to protect hospital workers. Specifically, why hasn’t the Defense Production Act, which Trump signed on March 27, been enacted so that private business will be compelled to produce equipment to battle the virus? Trump maintains he doesn’t need to enact it because the private sector is already cooperating, with the needed equipment already in production. But so far no one has seen any of that equipment. This debate rages every day on TV. The days pass and the top of the curve looms closer and the hospitals don’t have what they need and the workers talk to the press and the President holds his daily press conference standing shoulder to shoulder with members of his task force, I guess forgetting about social distancing, or maybe thinking it doesn’t apply to them. And the next day it begins all over again.

At this point anyone, a child, literally anyone, can easily predict that our states, our hospitals and our medical teams are not going to get what they need in time. There’s no way it can be manufactured in the days or weeks before New York, the largest city in the US, will find its hospitals overwhelmed by sick and dying patients.

I can’t stand to think of the suffering ahead.

Every day at 7:00 p.m., residents of New York City shout, sing, and cheer in gratitude to the health care workers risking their lives for all of us. The sound reverberates up and down the nearly empty streets.

It’s impossible not to cry — for the beauty of it, and the ugliness of so much else right now.

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