Category Archives: novel coronavirus

The Fourth Week

Having become convinced that there is a use for homemade masks, I am now on the mask-making detail too. Not mass producing though.

mask ties

I had a roll of bias binding made up and thought it surplus from a previous project (here). I had enough for five masks and I had some batik from another previous project (here). And batik is closely woven and good for masks. Of course as soon as I had cut the binding I remembered what I’d been saving it for. Oh well, there’s more fabric in this apartment.

And then, though I didn’t have elastic, I did have some headbands in colors I didn’t wear, and I had heard of others using them for masks. So I tried several.

mask elastic

I’ve tried them out.  They stay on until I talk too much. The small tuck is to make it tight enough at the chin. The sides for that one were an inch longer than those of the other masks, and I think that made the difference.

So while some states allow (and some groups intend in spite of states not allowing) people to gather in large crowds for Easter services, I’ll continue staying home, and when I go out I’ll wear a mask. I was glad to read that KY claims that anyone who goes to an Easter service will be put in quarantine. We will have to watch numbers 14 days after Easter. And we will have to watch numbers 14 days after Wisconsin’s election and hope that masks and physical distancing compensated for the inhumane rulings that forced the choice between health and in-person voting.

I am glad to read that physical distancing seems to be doing its work and that disease and death numbers are lower than modeled. Rather than saying it proves the shut down was not needed, as some Fox News commentators do, it shows it did its work! One wonders at the Fox News analysis, treating models as exact prophecies then claiming they failed. Which is worse: to assume commetators really don’t know how models work or to assume they distort nuance of model making into something that fits their version of the situation? The rest of us know that a model is as good as the possibilities plugged into its blanks–how many restrictions, how much compliance, for example. And many of those variables depend on public behavior.

Even though the numbers are better than expected, they are daunting. And in spite of that there is rumbling anew about reopening. The New York Times Magazine reports a conversation on the ethics and morality of the trade offs of reopening, whenever we do (here). And though I’d been made aware of the discrepancy between the number of deaths of patients of color from white patients, I’d not drawn the logical conclusion expressed by Vanita Gupta, one of the participants:

Even now we’re making trade-offs. We should be more honest about it. Many of the folks we call essential are low-wage workers, and we depend on them to keep grocery stores and pharmacies open. To a degree, the decisions about reopening in the future are about whether we’re comfortable with the professional classes becoming part of the trade-off by going back to their offices. And the pandemic highlights the divide between workers with paid sick leave and without. Only 47 percent of private-sector workers in the bottom quarter for wages have paid sick leave, compared with 90 percent in the top quarter, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Covid-19 is further revealing the country’s profound inequality and structural racism.

 

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The Third Week

Time is behaving strangely, telescoping then expanding. Sometimes three weeks ago seems like yesterday; sometimes like years ago. In a way it seems as if while external events are not marking days, time should stand still, and it is a shock to realize a week has passed. I am just observing; I am not distressed by it.

At least there will be no premature lifting of restrictions. One good thing among many obnoxious things. One of the worst is increasing sanctions on Iran rather than lifting them. And Venezuela. An indictment of a sitting president and sending of naval ships there to police a drug trafficking that is minimal compared to drugs traveling in other areas. I await more information, but I am skeptical of motive and timing and even the truth of the accusation. It is no secret that the White House has been pushing for regime change and Juan Guaido as president, whereas his local popularity has dwindled. Is the whole thing an attempt to boost Guaido? It sure looks that way, especially with the offer to lift sanctions in the future if an emergency government is formed, a support of Guaido’s own proposal. (It seems a support of Guaido even if neither Guaido nor Maduro would be in the US proposed emergency ruling committee.) Sanctions should be lifted for humanitarian and global reasons.  But even if one doesn’t care about the people in either Iran or Venezuela, it is in the interest of the world to contain the novel coronavirus by allowing medicines and emergency equipment to reach them.

Another area in dire straits is Gaza and the West Bank. A field hospital was begun (I think in the West Bank), only to be torn down by Israeli forces because Palestinians are not allowed to build. Such idiocy, to enforce such a law in times like these.

I attended a virtual rally sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace among others, about ending the blockade on Gaza to allow medicine and emergency equipment in. I tuned in by Zoom and listened to speeches as at any IRT rally. Actions included signing petitions, making signs and showing them along with our faces while they captured screen shots and posted them. It was suggested that with legislators working from home, voice mail and email of senators and representatives may not be being monitored, so to reach them it was suggested we tweet at them on Twitter. Something to think about as other issues arise as well.

And on the home front, I am livid that Jared Kushner has been put in charge of logistics of the national emergency stockpile. That is a position that requires someone with expertise, not just a Cliff Notes version of getting “up to speed.” Kushner didn’t learn well in his cramming. Instead of helping, he is continuing problem of getting equipment where it is needed, Kushner’s claim that the stockpile is not the states’ but “ours” is appalling, and equipment seems to have  been released not to those who need it but to the private sector so that states can continue outbidding each other and companies can get into war profiteering. (I’ve heard this mentioned once on Chris Hayes’ All In.)

On the mask issue, this article from The Atlantic is the most clarifying thing  I have read. The short version: In addition to conveying the technical definition of airborne as a size of particle more than the lay definition carried by air, it begins to answer how asymptomatic people transmit the virus. And it concludes with something I’d come to think: since we can’t distinguish who is well from who is asymptomatic, we should consider ourselves potentially carriers. And even if homemade masks only protect others from the sick (rather than keeping us from contracting COVID-19), we should protect others from the possibility that we are carriers. And it has become official, if voluntary, with the weak call of one who will not wear a mask.

I was out the day before the announcement, and about 1/4 of the people I saw–I didn’t see many–were masked.  I was out walking in the empty park. People in my neighborhood  are cooperating.

playground empty

Two buses passed while I was walking, both were empty. However, one bus driver has died of COVID-19. He had previously complained because of a passenger who not only coughed but made no effort to cover his cough.  (What happened to stay-at-home-if-symptomatic there?)

The projection is that Oregon’s peak will be mid April. It is approaching. Today’s statistics: 4 new deaths, 100 new cases, bringing the total to 999 as of 8 am. And among the survivors, a 104-year-old veteran. That’s impressive!

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Second Week Same as the First

I’m remembering a camp song line, “Second Verse, same as the first.” I can’t remember any of the rest of the song. Odd memories.

This sign appeared by the elevator

elevator sign

And while I was taking the photo, the elevator door opened and I wasn’t 6 feet back. Silly me, I thought I was okay till I pushed the button. Actually as the door opened it looked empty out of the corner of my eye. Then I heard the, “Excuse me.”

I did a wee bit of quilting (here), a moderate amount of knitting, and a lot of reading, mostly online.  Less news. Lots of Facebook, Mewe, and blogs. I remember a time when I’d spend hours reading blogs and decided I should spend more time sewing and less time reading them. Back then I changed to no longer get email notification, thinking I’d check in regularly. I have learned that I tend not to.  I’ve enjoyed getting back into it. Back when linky parties began I’d read every link. That has often dwindled to the suggested two-before and two-after my own and any whose photo catches my eye. I used to comment on all, but have cut back to when I have something more to say than, Nice quilt.

I am still reading Voices from Chernobyl. Among the stories of radiation illness and coping with relatives’ deaths was a harrowing tale from a physicist who knew what had happened and tried to warn government superiors, who only brushed him off with the party line that the fire had been put out. The parallel between competence and incompetence echoed too closely with our current situation where instead of the federal government orchestrating supplies so that they go where most needed, the states have to outbid not only each other, but also the federal government. Worse yet, the president demands “appreciation” before he releases from the surplus. The lack of understanding of risk management is too appalling to believe.

I am angry at states that are not working to flatten the curve, Mississippi, for one, where the governor not only decreed that businesses remain open but also overrode city and county decisions to close. Then there is the large church in Lousiana that is meeting in defiance of state orders to close down large gatherings. And Liberty U ordering faculty and students back after spring break. If only the virus would attack only those that disrespect it! But no, they endanger all.

And there is the fear that Trump will act on an earlier statement to open things back up by Easter. And the Lt Governor of GA ( I think–will check)–yep, GA )who said he was willing to die to save the economy and talked as if all old people agreed. I don’t. Nor do I want to see lifting the restrictions prematurely; it would make this two weeks of isolation meaningless. The curve would rise again and undo what has been accomplished toward buying time for hospitals to cope.  It wouldn’t even help the economy if it causes more people to get sick and die. Once again, an utter flouting of risk management.

I don’t live in constant anger and fear, but it is there.  I look at the numbers, but don’t memorize them.  In between I read, sew, knit and plan.  I’m retired, so I have no challenges like those working from home. I have no deadlines–don’t even have a long term show goal to work toward early. So instead of a to-do list I have a might-do list. And no guilt if I don’t. That is still working; we’ll see how long.

 

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And the First Week Ends

A couple other bloggers are blogging journals of the coronavirus times and the experience of “social distancing.” (Applique PaintboxSo Scrappy, Art with a needle Maria Shell   ); I’ll come back with other links as I find them.) It seems a good idea. There needs to be a record of these unusual times, a record from ordinary people.

Apart from finishing the Stretching Art piece (here), I haven’t done any quilting. That is neither unusual nor a sign of the times. I usually pause quilting after a finish, especially an intense finish.

Nor have I finished a book. That is a little more unusual as I usually manage a book a week. (I don’t usually blog about every book I read, only books I really like.) I am working on Rachel Maddow’s Blowout. Those of you who listen to her would recognize the pattern: start way back, explore many precursors, finally tie them to something current, at which point as reader, I feel like the need to go back to the beginning to see connections I had missed.

I am also working on Voices from Chernobyl on my iPhone. (In the old days–a week ago–when I was out and about, I kept a book on my phone for bus rides and waiting periods. I will be reading more online while my library is closed.) Svetlana Alexievich takes a similar approach here as she did in Last Witnesses (review here), gathering stories of peoples’ experiences of an event and presenting them with little comment. It is, alas, a timely read. The incompetence and lack of foresight is harrowing, as is the lack of honest communication. There is a major difference, though.  There officials followed orders from above almost unquestioning, out of habit–one example, a radiated village planting peas because it is time to and they had received no orders to change the plan. Here most of our state and local governments are taking matters into their own hands and doing what they can.

I am thinking about my next project.  Nina Marie has suggested a coronavirus quilt along with linky party (here). I have many leader/ender HSTs to press and trim so they can become leaders-and-enders again as potential pinwheels. I have leader/ender 4-patches to press and trim and alternate squares to cut. I have many tops waiting to be quilted. Or projects to start. Or I could make masks.

I have pondered making masks. I waver between “something is better than nothing” and “they would be false security” for one thing. I don’t have non-woven fabric for an inner layer desired by some (and seeming to make them more effective). I don’t have elastic, nor do sites where I usually shop.  (And yes, there are patterns for masks with ties, but locally it seems they want only elastic.) And with all the elastic sold out, I wonder if enough others are making masks that mine would not be needed.  I recall other emergencies where requests have been met with such response that the requesters have begged people to stop. I think I’ll keep my ear to the ground and listen for signs that more are needed, truly needed, before I start.

My time has been spent glued to news. I finally realized that no matter the headline, a new article probably didn’t add enough new information to be worth the time or emotion spent on opening it and have directed my attention elsewhere. I will admit that I keep backsliding into news rabbit holes, though.

For the first week, I actually enjoyed having no external demands. I do rather well with unstructured time–maybe not productive, but contented. I am substituting online and phone contact for hanging out with friends. I am reading FaceBook and MeWe more and following blogs more faithfully. I will not be surprised if that attitude changes.

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