After a few weeks of relative silence, everyone can’t stop talking about Covid-19. At work, Nat and Dawn were discussing college shutdowns across the nation. At the train station, a guy was chatting on his phone about how March Madness games are being played to empty stadiums. Another guy loudly proclaimed that we should wait to panic until “the real deal catastrophe.”
In the afternoon, I got an email from Amtrak saying that they’re going to clean their trains more often. (Thanks, Amtrak!) Walking through the plaza, I overheard someone say: “My brother’s in quarantine.” Then I went to Walgreens to order prescription refills (Mom suggested stocking up, just in case) and there was a big bottle of hand sanitizer at the pharmacy counter. The shelf of discount hand sanitizer was gone, but it was helpfully replaced by a shelf of disposable latex gloves for when you go out in public and don’t want to touch anything.
As I left Walgreens, a large newsroom ticker across the street advertised the latest news about Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Twitter has been talking about this nonstop since it first became a thing, but it’s fascinating to see how the narrative has changed. (I joined Twitter to post art, follow other artists, and look at pictures of dogs. Somehow this tracked me onto Leftist Twitter; I only see far-left perspectives on that site unless a leftist is mocking an unapproved viewpoint. On the other hand, HGR’s internet haunts tend to be more right-wing. Every so often we cross-reference so I can see what people are saying outside the bubble.)
Anyway, Covid-19. When the news first broke, the communal response was to scoff at the perceived danger, and the primary discourse was about RACISM. Some of this was legit (e.g., stories about people being rude to Asians in public), but there was also the prevailing opinion that coronavirus concerns were themselves racist and rooted in xenophobia. Many variants on a single theme: “If you care more about the coronavirus than the flu, it’s because you’re racist against Chinese.” Someone made a post declaring that Covid-19 had no higher mortality rate than the flu. It garnered thousands of likes/retweets, and whenever someone explained to her that Covid-19 had a much higher observed mortality rate, she hid their response.
After a while, it became impossible to dismiss Covid-19 concerns as xenophobic nonsense, so the discourse shifted to LABOR RIGHTS. A lot of low-income workers (retail, food service, hotels, etc.) live paycheck-to-paycheck and don’t have paid sick leave, so they come to work even when sick. In a pandemic, this is bad news. This is a fair flex, but I love how it’s premised on Covid-19 being very serious when the previous line of discourse was premised on Covid-19 being not serious at all.
Meanwhile, HGR’s sources advise getting a gun in case there’s a total breakdown of society and people come after your stockpiled food supplies.
(Even HGR’s left-wing sources are more edgy than mine. They’re saying that the coronavirus might be a good thing because it will disproportionately kill off the elderly, thus giving young, liberal voters greater sway over the election.)
The "Real Deal" catastrophe is when everyone is infected. I read there was permanent lung damage from coronavirus, which is the most worrisome part for me. I didn't care if I got it last week because I thought, you know, it's just the flu, no big deal. Now I'm pretty scared of getting that life changing lung damage.
Yeah, it's concerning. I also live with someone higher-risk (asthma and other pre-existing health issues) so I'm worried about accidentally bringing it home.
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