Red alert, day nine. Suffolk cases still at 13, Mile End now at 43 (BBC).
News is getting harder to keep up with now that we have two news cycles per day in two or three timezones. However the briefings seem to have stopped for the weekend. The UK remains on soft lockdown, closing gathering places including pubs and telling people to socially isolate. Guardian reports 233 UK deaths as of 8 pm.
I did the Saturday morning park walk by myself, taking two hours to map the official 5K route properly. It became clear that Parkrun/Parkwalk has had to be mostly over by 10 am because that’s when the dog walkers come. Dogs do not respect runners and they do not respect social distancing, particularly with other dogs.
There were still plenty of people in the park, though not interacting outside family groups. Tonight the National Trust closed its properties (stately homes and grounds), saying they have observed the numbers today and are “no longer convinced we can maintain social distancing over Mother’s Day [tomorrow in the UK] when numbers are likely to grow, and beyond.” A French man has completed a marathon walking back and forth on his 7 m balcony. I don’t have a balcony. After the office corner cleanup I do however have a space to do yoga or something while watching the computer screen.
In taking two hours for the walk, I missed Elene and Steve’s COVID special on Ipswich Community Radio (Mixcloud link). On the way back, I stopped at an ethnic grocery store that was pretty well stocked, except for the paper goods. Reports say panic and speculative buying is continuing and healthcare and other essential workers coming of shift can’t find food, so I restricted myself to a normal day and a half’s worth of food. Which is really three days now because I have no appetite.
The definition of essential workers varies by nation. Wine shops are essential in France, hairdressers in Belgium, cannabis in Netherlands (takeaway only) and San Francisco, and church mass in Poland (via Vappu). YouTube and Netflix are lowering bandwidth to help Internet providers meet increased demand. Amazon has stopped nonessential shipments in Italy and France. I hope that when it comes to us, essential shipments include technology, because that is how we are staying in touch. My ten year campaign to move family members to cheap/free OTT calling services (Skype, WhatsApp, Google Voice) is still unsucessful but at least I can use them on my end.
A town in Italy says it has stamped out the virus through full testing and quarantine, although it would seem that this isn’t sustainable once people start to enter and leave. Flights and landings are still being cut when air traffic personnel test positive (New York, Philadelphia) or to stem incoming cases from Spain (Netherlands). Pret a Manger and Starbucks, prominent employers of Europeans and other immigrants, have closed even for takeaway. Costa is open but staff want it to close.
One of my alma mater mailing lists has been buzzing with virus talk.
Prakash Labs at Stanford is working on hacks to help healthcare, such as a remote controller to avoid touching ventilators and a scuba mask repurposed as PPE (personal protective equipment) (via Sian). Masks really seem to be a problem – something that isn’t massively expensive but we are way understocked. Crafter friends in the US are sewing reusable cloth masks for themselves and (other) healthcare workers.
The alma mater mailing list I’m on has had a dismaying amount of unchecked forwarding, hot taking and speculation for a group of former students of a university “polarized around science and technology.” One thread ended in with a circle of people reminding each other that a pangolin is a mammal not a reptile. However it is also raising serious points about the ethical dilemma of medical protection vs. economic survival of a large number of people. Supporting employment and a connected economy was not so much a policy consideration in 1666, and that’s almost our model. The US is still planning only a one-time $1000 payout to those who have filed tax returns; Sanders is calling for $2000/month (vs 80% of wages, capped at £2,500, in UK).