Three long years.

You guys! I’m so sorry I’ve been such a sluggard here. I don’t know where last week went. But let’s soldier on, anyway:

I generally dislike anniversary journalism, but Monday is March 6, which sticks in my head as the beginning of Covid in Michigan. The first cases wouldn’t be diagnosed and announced until the 10th, the day of the primary election, but on the 6th the chill was definitely in the air. Kate and the girls had a show at Third Man Records, the beginning of what they hoped would be a victory march down to SXSW in Austin, but by then, SXSW had been cancelled. “Just go anyway,” I told them. “People will be getting together and playing anyway, with or without the festival’s backing.” They were afraid no one would come out to Third Man that night, but once the Bernie Sanders rally at the nearby TCF Center concluded, they had no problem filling the place. I noticed one guy standing way off by himself in a mask. Huh, I thought.

Within days, the governor would start issuing shutdown orders, and within weeks, those orders would be the genesis of a new right-wing movement here, which led directly to…well, a lot of things. The utter delamination of the state GOP, although pockets of strength remain. The shenanigans in Ottawa County got their start then. There are others.

I wrote a story for Deadline on the one-year anniversary, presented oral history-style, which means it’s too long, but oh well. I’ve reread it around this time the last couple of years, because I don’t want to forget anything about the early days – the fear, the panic, the way people one block away would cross the street when they saw me coming, walking the dog. (I, on the other hand, would only step off to the curb line. That was my comfort zone.) The way some people wiped down their groceries. The homemade masks, the Karen tantrums in grocery stores, the toilet paper hoarding, all of it.

The New York Times magazine had a Covid oral-history story last week, and one quote in it hit me between the eyes:

In the final set of interviews, most of which were conducted last summer, some people said the pandemic was over while others insisted it absolutely was not. Or that it was “sort of queasily over.” Or that it had been over, but then “it stopped being over.” “I think we all, as a society, became better,” one nursing-home aide concluded. A nonprofit worker confessed, “I used to think that we lived in a society, and I thought that people would come together to take care of one another, and I don’t think that anymore.”

That last quote, especially, echoed some of the way people talked in my story. Here’s a state legislator who lost her sister early on:

After Isaac (Robinson, a member of the Michigan Legislature) passed, (the legislature) didn’t go back immediately. We had some votes, mainly to extend the Governor’s executive order powers, and Democrats wanted a joint resolution allowing virtual voting. (The Republicans) didn’t take the resolution up. I was of the mindset that the Republicans weren’t starting from a place of “how do we deal with this crisis,” but “how do we jam the governor.”

And the funeral director:

It hit my community so hard, and we were screaming and it’s like nobody heard us. I’d hear these people saying, “We have to open up. I can’t go to my restaurant anymore,” and I’m having trouble getting gloves because of the hoarding. Without gloves, I’m out of business.

That’s kind of where I am, three years later. To be sure, the ER doctor and epidemiologist said she came away with optimism about the power of people working together, but she was mainly talking about her medical colleagues. I’m no longer confident, or even optimistic, that faced with an existential public-health threat, people will do the right thing. Here’s something I hear a lot: “I am just so over Covid.” Aren’t we all, but it’s still with us. To be sure, my masking is less common than it was. I went to a densely packed show a while back, mask-free. I eat in restaurants again. But I mask on planes, and I still watch case numbers. If they go up, I mask up. I’m still a No-vid, but I don’t worry that I could die, if I got it. I’ve been vaccinated five times; if I get it, I expect mild symptoms and long Covid to be far less likely. But I don’t want to get it in the first place.

My faith in my fellow citizens, though? That’s in the toilet. Maybe that’s why I’m enjoying “The Last of Us,” the post-zombie apocalypse show on HBO now. It posits a future where the thing you most have to fear is not the zombies, but your fellow healthy American. Everyone is armed to the teeth; busting a cap in someone’s ass is considered totally acceptable to protect one’s food or vehicle or whatever. The government is a dominating fascist force. There’s a thriving black market in the human settlements that remain. That, I regret to say, is what I expect the next time a pandemic hits.

Not that I wish to start the week on a bummer note! After a wet, sloppy snowstorm Friday night, we’ve had two days of snow-melting weather, and spring is most definitely on its way.

Posted at 12:08 pm in Current events, Detroit life |

49 responses to “Three long years.”

  1. Jeff Gill said on March 5, 2023 at 2:14 pm

    My mother interrogated me yesterday about her funds, which she’s sure my sister is absconding with, alongside of multiple examples of her increasingly delusional thinking. I was sitting with her while my sister was out looking for a deal on a new washer, as we enter next week three years of this new phase of our respective lives. My dad died on March 12 down in Texas, just as lockdowns and closures were being announced wholesale, and both Trump and Cuomo were doing daily press. But for me it’s all tangled up in the process of getting my father’s remains back (“$5,000 please”) & hauling out a ton of crap from a doublewide on the Rio Grande while wrecking one vehicle & packing another.

    Then as I made the last leg three weeks later to Ohio, my wife messages me that she’s on her way to Indy with her dad in the ER. Three years later, I’m sitting here with him, as he screams with pain standing or sitting (a hip replacement twenty years old is breaking down), and then angrily shouts he’s fine, leave him alone, but bring him two Tylenol and a beer. This trip I arrive to find he’s thrown out an unopened loaf of bread & kept the three slices of moldy, tossed some food containers “I never use anyway” that I put the prepared meals in for my shorter and shorter trips back home that he rarely eats now. “I’m going to die in this chair, I don’t need to see any doctors.” So I am in a standoff with him, waiting for the point where he soils himself as my next most reasonable point of leverage to do something. He’s lost over 15% of his body weight this past year, living on honey buns & cinnamon whiskey.

    That’s what COVID has been for me; the end of my ministry work, and a delicate dance of debility with my mother & father-in-law, both of whom were angry & frankly quite self-absorbed people before the last few years, but with their respective spouses deceased, and as cognitive decline advances into borderline dementia, it’s a weekly adventure into irrational rages & paranoid delusions slowly consuming their ever-briefer waking thoughts.

    I throw these grim observations out there because I keep picking up hints & indications that there’s a non-trivial number of people in their late 50s/early 60s for whom COVID became a breaking point in elderly parent issues, and the only options are home care on one’s own. We’re also a chunk of that “non-working” work force that’s missing from the employment picture; we’re working, it’s just not in a job you see listed on government forms, unless it’s a hospice application as “primary caregiver.”

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  2. Icarus said on March 5, 2023 at 2:47 pm

    my wife, my kids, and myself have had all the “jabs”. We have either not got COVID or had such a mild form, we barely noticed.

    My wife’s parents got the first pair, but none of the boosters. And MIL is concerned it will change her DNA. FIL does what MIL says.

    BIL has long COVID. They won’t call it that down here but his symptoms line up. He and SIL also got the initial shots but no boosters for them or their 5 and 3-year-olds.

    this place is an absolute shit hole.

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  3. nancy said on March 5, 2023 at 3:03 pm

    Jeff, you’ve really been through it the last couple of years with these elder issues. I’m sorry about all of it.

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  4. David C said on March 5, 2023 at 3:22 pm

    Other than knowing for sure that I live in a country full of crazy people which I mostly knew when TFG was elected, there haven’t been a lot of negatives for me since it started. I mostly work from home now. We finally persuaded my parents to move to an independent living apartment with guaranteed acceptance into assisted living, nursing home, or memory care, as needed. They’re thriving there. They really like the food. They’re making friends. Everyone I know, but me, has had the virus but all mild cases. I turned my anti-vax wife and she’s now fully vaccinated for everything. I don’t know anyone who died from it. Sure it was a pain in the ass, and I hate the side eye when I wear a mask, which isn’t too often anymore either. But the last three years have been mostly positive. I hope things start getting sorted out for yours, Jeff. We were expecting a lot of resistance from my parents. There was some but not too bad. Now they wonder why they didn’t do it a couple of years ago.

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  5. 4dbirds said on March 5, 2023 at 3:45 pm

    As far as I know, I haven’t had covid yet but have had every vaccine. I no longer have any faith or trust in my fellow Americans because of the last three years. The fact that people would be proudly vocal that elderly and disabled people should just die so everyone else could go to bars and restaurants. As someone who really felt we as a nation had a moment in time where we would go forward with civil rights, technology and medical advancements, this retreat is depressing.

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  6. Julie Robinson said on March 5, 2023 at 4:22 pm

    All five shots here and have been so, so careful. Nonetheless I’ve had it twice, and two months after the last time I’m still coughing and wheezing, less all the time, but still. Is it long Covid? Dunno.

    Jeff, I’m so, so sorry. What I go through with my mom looks like light duty compared to you. We had her hospital follow up Friday and learned she has a 75% blockage in her neck, which could be why she’s having dizzy spells. She doesn’t want surgery and I don’t blame her, but the fall risk is scary.

    So I’m researching necklace alert systems. Anyone have recommendations? Every time I do this it seems like they all have a lot of issues.

    Speaking of falls, now that I’m out of the boot I can take a standing shower again, and I miss the shower chair. I can get a free one through our insurance, and geezerhood, here I come!

    We’ve also ordered a pool handrail, which we’ve talked about getting since we bought the house. Today I needed help getting in and out of the pool, and I don’t like being that dependent. Especially since the doctor told me it’s the best place to rehab the ankle. One doctor’s order I am happy to follow.

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  7. Jeff Gill said on March 5, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    If droplets really are key, I have a suspicion that wants to grow up to be a theory: I’ve never gotten it, my son’s never gotten it. We’ve both been in an awful lot of schools in the last three years, not as masked as my wife wishes. All of us five shots, too.

    But I’m 6’5″ in shoes, son 6’6″. I just wonder if being a little higher keeps us clearer of potential droplet inhalation, mask or no mask. Would love to see some science on this. I’m cautious due to the 87 & 94 year olds as noted, but still, I’d expect to have gotten it at least once by now given my weekday activities, and nada. (If I’m right, apologies to shorter folk.)

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  8. David C said on March 5, 2023 at 5:05 pm

    That’s a really good hypothesis, Jeff. I’d say it’s worthy of study. I’m 5’9″ so if it’s true, I’ll get a pair of drywall stilts for the next respiratory virus pandemic.

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  9. ROGirl said on March 5, 2023 at 5:32 pm

    Jeff, if you’re not kidding about your height hypothesis, it sounds like bullshit to me. Or maybe I’m below the maximum droplet dispersion zone because I’m 5′ 1″ and have not had covid.

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  10. Julie Robinson said on March 5, 2023 at 5:57 pm

    Both my infections involve singing. First time our kids picked it up from a community choir they were in and brought it home, second time I was singing with a few others on Christmas Eve. I love to sing in groups but next year I’ll tell the pastor (my daughter) no.

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  11. alex said on March 5, 2023 at 7:00 pm

    I haven’t had it and I attribute it to keeping my distance but also not being in close contact with anyone for more than 15 minutes at a time, which was one of the original precautions.

    Haven’t had a cold or viral illness of any sort in a long time either.

    What I remember most about three years ago was how it brought our neighbors together. We were all quarantined at home and bored and got to know each other by hanging out outside. Some friendships lasted, some didn’t, but otherwise we might never have become acquainted at all.

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  12. LAMary said on March 5, 2023 at 7:13 pm

    I had all the shots and boosters but caught covid twice. First time was no big deal at all. It was a snotty cold. Second time was aches and fatigue and generally feeling bad. I think I caught it both times from my sons.
    We all learned a lot about what jerks some people are. Ivermectin, hydroxycholoroquine, all that shit and a president that wants to shine light into our lungs. What a fucking crazy time.

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  13. Deborah said on March 5, 2023 at 7:53 pm

    It was March 20th of 2020 I think when we hightailed it out of Chicago for New Mexico in a rented minivan with no stops at public toilets. I remember making our first masks out of old leggings. It’s like it all happened yesterday. I thought we would be safer in a less populated area, but it was everywhere, no one was really safe anywhere it seemed. The fear was palpable, I was terrified. I cried when I got my first vaccine I was so relieved that the vaccine existed and was available and have gotten every booster since. But I got Covid twice and only a few months in between each time in 2022, and both times it involved travel. I still wear masks at airports and on planes but that’s about the only places I worry about now. I do not want to get it again, I’m afraid it will take its toll.

    As far as how I feel about my fellow man now… it’s sad and pathetic, I don’t trust many people anymore to do the right thing. The fact that this has all happened in my lifetime seems bizarre to me, I honestly thought when I was a youngster that things like poverty and racism would be over in my lifetime, how naive is that?

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  14. Jeff Gill said on March 5, 2023 at 8:30 pm

    ROGirl, that’s a solid data point against my suspicion. Which I’m just curious about. And maybe I’ve been more cautious than I give myself credit for! Less cautious than my spouse is probably still pretty careful. But so many ostensibly careful people still get COVID, so I am puzzled.

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  15. Sherri said on March 5, 2023 at 8:43 pm

    Any tattered remnants of illusions I had about this country after 2016 were completely destroyed by the pandemic.

    I got Covid once, from my husband, who got it from people in his choir. I’ve had all the shots, seldom go out to eat, but don’t mask much anymore.

    I remember when the first death from Covid happened, and how the last weekend of February 2020, Costco and all the grocery stores were madhouses as everyone stocked up. On March 5, Microsoft sent everyone home, and they didn’t go back for two years.

    I saw an article bout how teenagers are depressed and blaming it on phones. My daughter’s not a teenager anymore, but he formative years have seen 9/11, a huge financial crisis, and now a global pandemic, and all the institutions are crumbling. Maybe there are good reasons beyond smartphones for people to be depressed?

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  16. alex said on March 5, 2023 at 10:09 pm

    I just lost another friend to suicide, not someone especially close, but like all of those that have come before this one it has left me feeling bereft and bewildered and sad for those this person abandoned, in this case two children.

    These are very stressful and uncertain times.

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  17. Dexter Friend said on March 6, 2023 at 4:08 am

    My 67 year old brother got 3 shots and then declared he is “done with this nonsense.” My old army pal in Connecticut got two shots and declared he is so healthy he is safe…at age 75. I got 5 shots and am scared shitless, man. I have eaten in one restaurant in 3 years and haven’t been to Walmart in probably 8 months. I shop the local full-service grocery store on off-hours when there are hardly any germy fuckers around. Numbers don’t lie; Covid19 and its variants have a strong foothold and I believe without the saints that got the vaccine out so quickly, the death stats would be incomprehensible. My daughter in Port St. Lucie has struggled mightily with long Covid and now won’t even talk or text at all.
    I now have other fish to fry, as the torrent we experienced a few days ago opened a leak in my roof, by the edge of the house. So far just a pint of water has dripped through but the ceiling is wet and this must be fixed pronto.
    Alex, suicide is a puzzle; who knows what is the final trigger? Last week a news item stated there is a new push for legalizing a suicide cocktail of pills to swallow and drift off into death. This will be politicized to death…right.
    Once Kurt Vonnegut shared his disdain for modern medicine to cure pneumonia. He said in his youth pneumonia was called ‘the old man’s best friend’; get it at 65 and lie down and pass away in peace and not be revived by penicillin to be cast into a pitiful painful old age.

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  18. Jeff Gill said on March 6, 2023 at 8:17 am

    Dexter, sounds like it could be water backing up under shingles from a gutter blockage, if it’s right near the edge of the ceiling near an outside wall? The challenge is finding someone who can go up a ladder; I just cleaned a ton of maple gunk & little sticks out of my father-in-law’s gutters, but I’m past where I could calmly swing up onto the roof and walk the gables.

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  19. JodiP said on March 6, 2023 at 9:05 am

    Jeff, I’m sorry you are having such trouble with the elders in your family.

    And Alex, losing people to suicide is its own special kind of misery. I’m sorry.

    I hate thinking about the early days. My wife is a nurse in a GI procedure center, so was going in all the time. I worked from home which I mostly hated. Then, George Floyd was murdered 9 blocks from our house. Melissa’s mom began a fairly rapid spiral into dementia-related psychosis, which entailed lots of disturbances with her neighbors. As all of us, I could go on at length.

    I was so freaking happy to get my vaccine.

    One bright spot: I became closer with two friends because I walked with each of them on different days of the week. We mostly have been keeping that going, which is so lovely.

    Life for us feels mostly normal, except I don’t have the energy to socialize like I used to. We got our bathroom and kitchen remodeled, have been travelling and I’m going into work 1 to 2 days week along with my team. No real reason but just to see each other, and it’s much easier to onboard my new team member f2f.

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  20. Mark P said on March 6, 2023 at 9:51 am

    Those of you who say you have had five shots, what were they? We’ve had two, plus two boosters. The last was the bivalent booster. As far as I can tell, the CDC says no more boosters are needed after the bivalent booster.

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  21. FDChief said on March 6, 2023 at 9:52 am

    Read too much history to be disillusioned by the selfish assholery of a significant fraction of the public during the ongoing pandemic…

    …and as a note, “We” may be done with COVID but – given the mutability of this pathogen it is likely not done with us…

    …but a bit disgusted to the GQP. It was obviously a shitpile of plutocrats, bigots, and Christopaths and had been since Goldwater (or Gingrich at the latest). But I always thought of the bulk of them as fairly shrewd.

    But the Plague exposed the credulous ignorance at the heart of the whole group. I’d thought that they were cynically exploiting Trump – as someone who’s seen the dumb cluck since his Spy magazine days I couldn’t believe that anyone was gullible enough to be fooled by his schtick.

    But they aren’t; they’re ALL IN. Anti-science, anti-vaxx, horse paste, American carnage…these people really ARE just that stupid. They really believe all this ignorant shit.

    It’s one thing to be fighting ruthless and cunning evil. Yes, it sucks, and moreso if you lose.

    But to contemplate being ruled by these fools?

    That’s just intolerable.

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  22. Deborah said on March 6, 2023 at 9:52 am

    Not being able to do things anymore as one gets older is the pits. My back hurts for days after I scrub the bathtub, and vacuuming is something that pains me now, so I only do a small area each day, it takes me about 3 days to finish the place in Chicago. I feel guilty about getting a cleaning service because I’m retired and don’t have to work at a job 8 hours a day. If I could find someone who would just scrub the tub I’d be happy to pay for that and not feel the least bit guilty about it.

    One of the panels of the trifold door to our closet came out of its pivot hinge socket again. The person who designed floor to ceiling pivot hinges for a building that moves wasn’t thinking structurally. We have to find someone who will fix it again, the people who did it last year are too busy. These doors aren’t original to the building, the former owner had them installed in the early 80s. They look good but don’t work, I keep saying the pivot shaft that goes into the floor and ceiling needs to be longer to protrude deeper so when the building shifts they don’t slip out, or can we just get regular side hinges, but no one listens to me.

    These one off problems are hard to find help for.

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  23. Jeff Borden said on March 6, 2023 at 10:26 am

    One of the first images I recall from the coronavirus was seeing a nasty looking couple in Floriduh loading the entire bed of their pickup truck with toilet paper from the local Walmart and sneering at bystanders who called them out for being selfish. It made me proud to be ‘Murican, where at least I know I’m free (to hoard basic commodities), to paraphrase that horrible Lee Greenwood song.

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  24. Jenine said on March 6, 2023 at 10:32 am

    I think all the caretaking jobs were terrifying at the start of the pandemic and continue to be more stressful now. Our govt/US society doesn’t take care of the vulnerable. I’m in the story – relocating to Albuquerque this spring to be a helper for my mom who’s in her early 80s.
    How will we get enough people wanting to become nurses and doctors, and I can’t even imagine -teachers- in the future? I feel like we got our kids through the public education system right before the roof fell in.
    I appreciate all your stories. Just came across a package of cleaning wipes that have a terrible smell (maybe coconut?!) but we were happy to be able to buy any at the time. I did a lot of jogging to try and escape cabin fever.

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  25. nancy said on March 6, 2023 at 10:59 am

    Sherri, that’s interesting about your husband’s choir-related infection. As I recall, a choir rehearsal was one of the first superspreaders in your area, Seattle. All those people standing close to one another, belting it out from the diaphragm — you can see how that’d be a problem.

    Here in Detroit, it was the ballroom-dancing community, most of whom are black, older and LOVE to dance. Exercising while cheek-to-cheek did a real number on a lot of groups. It was so sad.

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  26. LAMary said on March 6, 2023 at 11:06 am

    Younger son Pete was in China when Covid started spreading there. He barely made it out before China started locking down. I remember his phone call telling me he was trying to get a flight how crazy things were. His girlfriend, now wife smuggled him into a hotel near the airport. They were not allowing any non-Chinese get rooms. She smuggled him back out after a couple of days when he had managed to get a flight. That fell through, but someone from the US got him onto a flight with some state department people. He says he got the last seat. My son is a pretty resilient guy but the phone call from him when he thought he might not get out, crying, my six foot four, roll with the punches roadie kid, was devastating.

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  27. JodiP said on March 6, 2023 at 11:09 am

    Deborah, it’s totally OK to hire cleaning help. You don’t need a reason, but you have a really good one. It’s causing you pain. So I say go for it!

    While I was in college, I cleaned homes for older people through an agency that subsidized the cost to make it affordable. I could write at length how positive that experience was for me; one of the women was a truly life-changing influence. Not saying that will be your experience, but just to say that just because people have the time, doesn’t mean they need to do it.

    LAMary, what a harrowing story. I’m glad he got out.

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  28. nancy said on March 6, 2023 at 11:19 am

    Oh, and as for the five shots: The first series, the first booster in September ’21, the second booster in May ’22 and the bivalent booster in September ’22, before we went to Europe.

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  29. Mark P said on March 6, 2023 at 12:01 pm

    We were due for our second booster right before the bivalent booster came out, so we waited for that. It was only a matter of a few weeks.

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  30. Heather said on March 6, 2023 at 12:13 pm

    I’ve not had Covid either, at least as far as I know. I still mask at grocery stores and on planes, but I do go out to eat and to bars occasionally.

    The pandemic absolutely made me realize too many people in this country don’t give a s**t about anyone else, and it also highlighted how capitalism will absolutely bulldoze anyone in the way of profits. We couldn’t possibly pay people to stay home and not work for a month! Capitalism doesn’t care if you die, and in fact in many cases it benefits if you do. Since our government is in the hands of corporate capitalism, the gov’t doesn’t care either. (That said I’m not a socialist–I just think capitalism needs guardrails.)

    I am somewhat buoyed by the Chicago mayoral runoff result, but I’m kind of expecting a Vallas win, so…meh.

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  31. Suzanne said on March 6, 2023 at 12:25 pm

    The pandemic showed me that those who espoused eugenics in years past are still among us. People who are medically vulnerable, too poor for medicine, or otherwise “unfit” need to simply die off so the rest can have better lives. It’s survival of the fittest by the pro-lifers who claim evolution is a myth.

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  32. ROGirl said on March 6, 2023 at 1:01 pm

    Everyone who thought things would get back to semi-normal once trump was out of office, raise your hand. The country survived, and what we didn’t know at the time was much worse than most of us could probably imagine. And now the power-hungry remnants are out in the open burning down the whole thing way more competently than the twice impeached disgraced ex-president tried to do.

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  33. Scout said on March 6, 2023 at 1:05 pm

    I don’t know whether to credit the five vaccines my wife, my Mother and I have had, or that we were fastidiously cautious until vaccines became available, or that we may possess some unknown lucky genetic blocker, but none of us have gotten Covid despite having been exposed multiple times. For the record, we are all about 5’1″, definitely in range of average height people’s droplets.

    My faith in people took a serious hit in 2016 when enough idiots fell for the trump con to allow that toxic, corrupt criminal to get into power. When the same idiots behaved like rabid jackals on meth during the pandemic, it cemented my disillusionment. I doubt I will ever respect or trust Republicans and “Christian” Conservatives again in my lifetime. I never suffered from depression before the events of the past 7 years, and now it is something I am always battling.

    Jeff Gill, your trials in the care of your elders is heartbreaking. My Dad had dementia that was well managed by diet and exercise prior to Covid, but once the world went on lockdown and he no longer got outside stimulation he deteriorated rapidly. He passed in July ’21. I feel he was a secondary victim of the pandemic even though he never contracted the virus.

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  34. tajalli said on March 6, 2023 at 1:55 pm

    Julie Robinson, the Medic Alert Foundation has added a necklace with button to give a wireless alert in case of a fall. Don’t know anything about its efficacy or downsides though.

    I enjoyed the peace and quiet on the streets and a sort of deeper, perhaps psychic, silence while everyone was literally holding their collective breath. I don’t seem to get colds or flu, so there’s probably some factor in either my physical constitution or my behavioral vocabulary that’s been protective. I hopped at the chance for the vaccines, got the two initial without any problems and one booster to which I reacted so strongly it was better to not take the second. Got the bivalent in January.

    Persons pointedly flouting the masking and social distancing laws really annoyed me. These were, IMHO, the same group who would delight in scuttling others’ goals so it was no surprise they’d branched out into attempting to compromise others’ health safety. So I just social distanced from them in more ways than one. I’ve had no illusions about the large portion of bigoted ignorami in our country, so have not been surprised at their vocal emergence with the encouragement of TFG and followers.

    As soon as the libraries began offering outside pick-up service, life became much easier for me. I could just hibernate at home with books and DVDs, plus all the holdings available through Kanopy, Hoopla, and Overdrive. I just mask/social distance in public indoor venues and avoid non-maskers in a matter-of-fact manner. And as much as possible let go of anxiety on the topic, just following my protocol and letting life sort itself out.

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  35. Peter said on March 6, 2023 at 3:50 pm

    Jeff, I am so sorry to hear what you’re going through. And Alex, I am so sorry for your loss.

    I don’t know where to start with this. My father passed away just before COVID, and I tell people it was a blessing. If he stayed alive a few more months the 2020 election and COVID would have killed him and make his last months far more miserable than they already were.

    My father-in-law was in a nursing home that, like most of them, closed their doors to the outside. We could say to him in his second floor room by calling the place up and having him go to the window, and we would wave to him like he was in East Berlin. The nursing home began to send form letters out when someone in their facility caught COVID or passed away from it, and for a while we got more than one letter a day. My wife would cry, wondering when the letter would be about her dad. One day we got the call. There were two bags at the loading dock, one was his belongings, and one was him. The funeral home picked up the bigger bag.

    You know that in any crisis there will be naysayers. However, people get together for the common good. Like in World War II, or eradicating polio. It sickens me to no end when I read stories of anti-vax influencers saying they will take “vengeance” against those who they believe ruined our society. Look in the mirror, asshole. Why did a million people die? Why do so many more suffer today?

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  36. Sherri said on March 6, 2023 at 5:33 pm

    Yes, the first superspreader event, and the thing that made everyone here really sit up and take notice, was a choir rehearsal in this area. Only about half the choir was there, they were practicing social distancing, but lots of people got sick and several died. Before that, most of the deaths had been related to long term care facilities.

    My husband caught Covid when his church choir was masking, but before he was using a KN94 mask. Once I found some reasonably comfortable KN94 masks, he wears those to choir practices and performances. There’s starting to be discussion about whether it’s okay to stop masking, but he’s not ready to.

    Singing just seems particularly problematic. My husband also plays squash regularly, and he quit masking there a while ago, but it doesn’t seem to have been a problem. His gym does have very good ventilation. Choirs, whether church choirs or community choirs, are usually practicing and performing in churches, and churches don’t have money for top notch HVAC systems.

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  37. Julie Robinson said on March 6, 2023 at 5:40 pm

    Alex, I’m sorry about your friend. Suicide always leaves so many hurting souls.

    Peter, pre-Covid we had a couple of family members in nursing homes because they needed a higher level of care than we could provide, even with medical assistants coming to the house. Neither was a good experience. Your wife must have been traumatized by that whole experience, and not being able to say goodbye in person. I sincerely hope Mom never needs one.

    Medic Alert’s website won’t give you any real information, making you call so they can hard sell you. I hate those places. Probably that’s part of the reason she doesn’t have one yet.

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  38. Sherri said on March 6, 2023 at 7:07 pm

    How to destroy a community college:

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  39. Julie Robinson said on March 6, 2023 at 8:39 pm

    Sherri, both my infections came from choirs. Masked or not I’m staying away.

    This is the best time of year to be in Florida. We went to an outdoor botanical garden in the morning, I did ankle PT in the pool in the afternoon, and had strawberry pie with local berries for dessert. Almost makes up for DeSantis.

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  40. Dorothy said on March 6, 2023 at 11:03 pm

    My granddaughter turns 6 this coming Thursday, so Covid’s beginning was half her life ago. It seems like yesterday sometimes – the memories are so strong. I sewed more than 450 masks – I stopped counting them eventually. My entire family has had all the shots; my son is the only one who tested positive, twice. I had a really bad cold last Easter and I was convinced it was Covid. But I took two home tests and both were negative. We went to Atlanta almost two weeks ago for a long weekend at a national quilt show. Neither of us wore a mask at the airport, on the plane, on the MARTA system, at our hotel, NO WHERE. And we’ve both never had the virus. Sometimes I feel like Ellie on The Last of Us – some kind of freak who is naturally immune.

    Jeff my heart breaks thinking of what you and your wife are going through. It’s got to be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Know that we’re all behind you!

    I’m in rehearsals for a play that opens this coming Friday and boy has it been fun. I’m still really surprised that none of us have had to miss any time due to the virus. It’s a cast of 12! The set is spectacular, we have great thunder and lightning sound effects, and I get to be killed on stage for the first time ever in my nearly 25 years of doing theatre. The knife attached to a belt that I have to wear is pretty cool. Falling down on purpose as a 65 year old woman who’s already had one knee replaced is tricky. So far, no wounds. Twice I’ve bounced my head off the floor of the stage but not too harshly. I don’t think I want to do this again, though, after this show closes. We have 11 performances. I’ll miss this group – every one of them is new to me as I just moved here 13 months ago. We’re having too much fun together.

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  41. Mark P said on March 6, 2023 at 11:15 pm

    I just learned from my nephew that Ron DeSantis taught for a year at Darlington School, my old high school in Rome, Ga, before he went to law school. Based on The NY Times story, he was pretty much the dick then that he is now. He apparently taught the Southern white man’s version of the Civil War. There were some hints of mildly inappropriate behavior, and some claims of grooming, but some students remembered him in a fairly positive way.

    I don’t keep up with the school — I graduated 55 years ago — so I never hear any rumors. The school does have a history of ignoring student complaints about sexual misbehavior on the part of teachers.

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  42. Dexter Friend said on March 7, 2023 at 4:50 am

    Mark P. I follow the news so every time a new booster was announced, I got the shot, and have had 5 pokes, even though some sites say only immunocompromised persons should have had the 5th shot, but actually, now some sites report that severely immunocompromised adults should have had a 6th shot already.

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  43. Dorothy said on March 7, 2023 at 6:33 am

    I don’t think those sites were accurate, Dexter. Everyone I know who got the 5th booster was following their doctor’s directions. I don’t think I know one person who is immunocompromised. Or if they are they haven’t shared that.

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  44. alex said on March 7, 2023 at 7:19 am

    Sherri, thanks for sharing the article about the community college in Idaho. This kind of thing is also happening to public school boards, and in my state it’s happening with the encouragement of a Republican legislative supermajority. It’s like the Salem Witch Trials all over again.

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  45. Little Bird said on March 7, 2023 at 10:05 am

    I’ve had the five shots. And I’m very much immunocompromised. I should probably look into getting a sixth shot.
    I absolutely have had Covid at least twice and, as Deborah said, it was all travel related.

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  46. Jeff Borden said on March 7, 2023 at 1:19 pm

    The attacks on public education from elementary to collegiate level scare the ever-loving shit out of me. People like DeathSantis in Floriduh and Abbott in Texass are aiming for nothing less than gutting the very concept of critical thinking. . .perhaps the greatest gift education gives students. They are mean, vindictive and shallow men looking to turn the tide of social change by, well, ignoring it. And, folks, they are going to deeply hurt the students in their states. The little fascist in Floriduh already is talking about replacing AP studies with something else he apparently finds less liberal, but most colleges are not going to be on board when those hapless students start visiting campuses and they lack the credentials students from more enlightened states will have earned. The party of “freedom” is really anything but. The QOP should be burned to the ground in hopes something better will emerge from the ashes, but with a robust right-wing media that ignores news in favor of cultural wars, it will be tough to accomplish.

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  47. jcburns said on March 7, 2023 at 2:12 pm

    I’ve been reading about my old city’s paper, ‘Ohio’s Whitest Home Newspaper’, from the CJR in 2020 it appears.

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  48. Sherri said on March 7, 2023 at 2:14 pm

    DeSantis is an authoritarian, full stop. Education is anathema to authoritarians. It’s more difficult to control educated people.

    DeSantis is Trump, only more coherent. Rather than just lashing out in the moment, DeSantis knows exactly what he’s going to do. He’s the grownup version of Trump.

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  49. Ann said on March 12, 2023 at 2:30 pm

    My heart breaks for you, Jeff. What an ordeal. Alex, you too. Peter, your story is heartbreaking.

    I’m another one who cried when we could first get vaccinated and I could finally get in to see my mother. I’m so grateful that she lived long enough that we could be back together before she died.

    The real blessing of Covid has been Zoom. For a couple of years I had three a week–one with my mom and a bunch of her friends, one with my mom and my siblings, and one with my mom, her siblings, and assorted offspring. The one with my mom’s friends no longer happens, but the other two continue. This is far better than the occasional email or phone call and I learn something new each week about these people I’ve known my whole life. It helps, of course, that they’re a great group. My 90 year old uncle, who spent his whole career with the American Friends Service Committee in Southeast Asia, just got back from a trip to Laos, where he’s evaluating possible community development projects for a nonprofit that wants to do some good there.

    I’ve also escaped Covid so far, but I worry a lot about the lesson of the Challenger explosion–just because we’ve gotten away with taking some risks so far doesn’t mean we can keep getting away with them. I’ve only eaten inside restaurants five times in the last three years, but two of them have been in the past week. I’m completely addicted to grocery pick-up–what a time-saver–but I don’t always wear my mask when I’m running into the one near my house for the few things I can only get there. The greatest risk is certainly at the AARP tax site that I somehow got roped into running. I did buy a top-rated air filter and sit right next to it, but I wear my mask maybe 10% of the time. I guess I’m not as terrified as I once was. My immune-comprised DIL (MS) caught it recently, but recovered just fine, as have most–though not all–of my friends.

    Julie Robinson. Check Bay Medical It’s what my mom had and it worked well.

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