Last night, Jeff and I walked from our house to downtown, then to the Olympic Sculpture Park. It was a looooooong and glorious walk in sort of schizophrenic weather which made for a dramatic sunset. I was curious about downtown… to feel what it’s like in that deserted landscape. And my suspicions were confirmed: we have not solved the homelessness problem. Sometimes it feels like the wheels are falling off the country. How can we have so many people living on the streets? We are insanely rich!
Coronavirus anecdote: I encountered a Facebook post featuring a gentleman boasting about the new gun he bought at Walmart with his stimulus check. I mean, even if I try to remove all of my many biases, I still don’t think it’s the best use of this particular government assistance. Am I being too judgey here?
May the Fourth be with you. Jeff wore his R2D2 helmet for Zoom calls and we took a family poll to rate all 11 Star Wars movies.
Overall family winner: Empire Strikes Back
Overall family loser: Attack of the Clones
I never thought I’d find comfort in life coaching by CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, but today I heard him giving his audience a real talking to. At first, I thought it was another one of those, “slow down, appreciate this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be with your family” speeches, which I loathe. Instead, he had a nice twist. He warned that while we all might be wishing to get back to our old lives, maybe we forgot how fraught those lives were. He encouraged his viewers to remember how we ate dinner on the go, rarely saw our family members, the calendar was packed, and the traffic was terrible. He asks, “Was that so great?”
I guess not, but for many, paying the bills and being employed was probably pretty awesome. That’s for sure.
Coronavirus observation: The Sports page is hilarious. I mean, they are really having to dig deep. Featured today: Dubs II, the real life UW Husky mascot who lives with his family in Sammammish. His calendar has really cleared up in the last couple of months.
THE NEWS IS SO DEPRESSING. Good thing it’s Cinco de Mayo. Salud!
Our food supply chain is so precise and inflexible, it simply cannot accommodate a seismic shift in production patterns. There are milk facilities whose sole function is to empty their giant tanks into tiny little milk cartons for school cafeterias – a useless operation at the moment. There’s a billion pounds of potatoes wasting away in Washington state because they were intended to be french fried at bars and restaurants. It would take 20,000 tractor trailers and hundreds of thousands of dollars to move those potatoes elsewhere. A bunch of hogs are the perfect slaughter size, but instead, places like Minnesota are euthanizing 10,000 hogs a day because there’s no food service operations to buy them. Even worse, they’re euthanizing baby piggies because the pipeline can’t accommodate them. And 22,621 Kentucky Fried Chickens don’t need anywhere near their normal cabbage delivery, so farmers are left with a shit ton of roughage that they have to destroy.
There is no infrastructure to support reallocation of these resources to say, food banks, and certainly no guidance or help from the federal government. It’s the perfect opportunity for clever thinking. And leadership.
Back in March blog post, I referenced a tough conversation about the mortality rates of an economic fallout versus the mortality rates of a virus. Research shows that when the economy sucks, as in the last recession, things like suicide rates and drug overdoses amp up. We already know domestic violence calls have increased during the shelter-in-place – nobody is their best self in the face of ruin and unbearable anxiety. Plus, there is the added public health toll of all the appointments not happening right now. Delayed cancer treatments, heart check ups, mammograms. Preventive care is out the window. And some people simply don’t want the added risk of visiting a healthcare facility no matter how dire their situation. I’m sure all of this will be reflected in data later. It’s just so much to weigh.
As anyone could have predicted, our collective mental state is not good right now. And it’s yet another way we’ve exposed systemic failure in our capacity to deliver healthcare. Many mental health clinics and therapists’ offices are closed and like many other small businesses, they’re on the brink of shutting their doors for good. A number of these providers had long ceased taking insurance for their services because the process of getting reimbursed is excruciating and amounts to an extra part-time job. Just to get paid. So basically, mental health services were already for rich people or came at great sacrifice to those who prioritized it. Now, these services will be even harder to come by. Just in time for all the data that suggests we are super depressed.
And the UW coronavirus model the government has been quoting just updated to incorporate the loosening of social distancing 27 states announced. It predicts more than 134,000 will die – that’s up from their previous prediction of 60,000. Another model the administration quoted predicts we’ll be experiencing 3,000 deaths per day by June 1 – up from 1,750 deaths per day right now.
So, they’ve basically made the choice that the economy bests public health. And honestly, I struggle with this apparently binary choice. What frustrates me most, is that things could look very different right now if we’d HAD A PLAN. Our leader is so selfish, childish, and egotistical – all of which clouded any good judgement he could have brought forth. Coordinating agencies, testing, providing accurate information, being transparent so we could make appropriate, safe decisions for our families and businesses. None of that happened and as always, he managed to further polarize us. It’s like he delights in this.
I never meant this daily diary of observations to be political, but somehow, he made a pandemic political.
Anyway, reading the news has been a total freaking bummer.
Traffic is ramping up again. It’s not back to normal, but we’re all moving around a lot more. We’re antsy and ready to break some rules, I think.
Since we have no reliable information coming from the top – the president repeatedly contradicts his advisors and himself – we are more confused than ever. This head-spinning ridiculousness is summarized perfectly in this piece by Dave Eggers.