getting personal

Red alert, day 16. There are 61 confirmed cases in Suffolk and 129 confirmed cases in Tower Hamlets as of 9 am yesterday (via BBC). The UK has 17,089 confirmed cases in total (120,776 tests) as of 9 am today and 1019 deaths as of 5 pm yesterday (latest Public Health England figures). I have been feeling sickish every other day all week and it may be an unconfirmed case or it may just be pollen season; if I’m lucky, it won’t become urgent to check.

The US has now has the largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, more than 100,000. “Trump must be happy to be Number One” is the ironic mood on Twitter.

The thing to be furious about today is the political leadership. Britain is furious that the government opted out of the EU equipment procurement effort and then lied about it, badly, like “the cat ate the return envelope.” Half of Twitter is furious that vacuum maker Dyson, whose leader voted Leave and then moved jobs abroad, got an equipment contract and a less well known, established maker of ventilators did not. The other half is applauding Dyson. Parts of the US, notably AOC and those of us who look to AOC for our leadership, are furious with the trillion dollar bailout and nugatory worker coverage.

Mask sewing proceeds apace. My cousin, who has a dental hygienist practice in Toronto (nonessential business), has donated her collection of PPE supplies to a local hospital. Twitter says a medical fetish group has donated its PPE supplies to the NHS. The New Balance running shoe company is making masks. A hockey facemask maker in New Hampshire is making medical shields. JoAnn’s (craft store chain) is selling a mask pattern.

Local councils in Britain have been asked to house the homeless. Portugal is leading on protection of vulnerable groups as it plans to treat all asylum seekers and undocumented migrants as legal residents until at least July 1 so they can get public services. The US is trailing as Trump declares war on the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, who are among the last survivors of New England Algonquian societies wiped out by European diseases, wars, and genocides. Twitter suggests Trump covets the license the Mashpee Wampanoags were about to get to open a casino on Cape Cod:

Tufts University, led by a neurologist, has given over its campus to be a hospital. Yale University has declined to provide housing for people in New Haven. Harvard ($40 bln endowment) has finally agreed to pay dining hall staff through May instead of summarily firing them. Wetherspoons pubs has finally agreed to pay workers 80% wages instead of telling them to go find jobs at Tesco.

Finland has unlocked its emergency supplies of PPE (via Matt). They say they’ve got enough for the whole country. The Finns have something called Huoltovarmuuskeskus, an agency that prepares for disaster, traditionally envisioned as an invasion from Russia or nuclear war, but equally a pandemic qualifies. It seems to have more powers than FEMA. Huoltovarmuuskeskus maintains warehouses, runs regular simulations and plans for aspects most people never think about, such as critical metal supplies for industry and security of feed for farms. Scenarios like: What happens if someone does an EMF jam that shuts off automatic milking machines? There were also, notoriously, fallout shelters with room for everyone, some of them metro stations and other purpose-built tunnels that could be converted on short notice.

I broke my Saturday parkwalk streak because of fatigue. But I did go out to get food for the first time in almost a week and was able to get most of what I needed, including tea, milk and toilet paper, with practically no contact. People are finally doing the veer-away thing I have been expecting for weeks. It is normal to wear a mask or wrap your mouth in a scarf. There were door controllers at all shops, and queues at most, though sometimes more like a meter between people than two. Small children who had never queued were learning about queues. Non-food shops were shuttered. Their display windows will be frozen in March 2020 for a while.

Finally, the first of the Foucauldian takes is here and it is good, explaining how stratification by contagion interacts with existing econonmic stratification. Click through for full thread:

Posted on by Diana ben-Aaron
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