…And the world shuts down. Yes, the whole world. If you are reading this sometime in the future, it will be difficult to imagine. It would have been hard to imagine even a week or two ago.
I saw a photo of a Shanghai street, empty, with a caption that said the city had been all but shut down as residents tried to protect themselves from coronavirus. I saw this about three weeks ago and was shocked. I hadn’t realized things were that extreme. Little did I know this was a look into the rest of the world’s immediate future.
Two days ago, Gavin Newsom, who is governor of California, issued the first command for a state to “shelter in place” meaning the entire state must stay home unless leaving for some essential reason like to buy food, get gas, or go to the hospital. All businesses are shut down except for these “essential’ businesses. My aunt Bette, who lives in New York state, told me how extreme and stringent she thought that order was on her drive home from Florida yesterday morning. She thought she would be going home to a much more relaxed environment. About an hour later, her governor, Andrew Cuomo, issued the same exact order for New York state — the second in the nation. Illinois and Connecticut soon followed.
The streets are empty, school is canceled, work is cancelled, 255,000+ people have been laid off from their jobs in one week. This has all happened in one week! A week ago, I was showing my students a hand washing video on sort of a hunch. Now no one is supposed to leave their homes!
The death toll in the US in “only” 255 as I write this. It doesn’t sound that high to me, but still, they say the hospitals are overwhelmed already, and the situation is bound to get much worse. The main issue is there are not enough protective masks for the doctors and they are being asked to reuse the ones they have, which obviously spreads illness between patients, doctors, and anyone in the hospital. It’s disgusting. And I won’t even get started on Trump!
So, as it happens, this was a letter to someone in the future, a rundown of what is obvious to anyone who is alive this week, here, now, today. But someday I know this will be fascinating to read. We really are living through a time of extremes. It is unfathomable to everyone alive right now what is unfolding before us. It is a dystopian movie script, but it is real. As children, we thought “in the year 2020, a reality show host will be president of the United States and there will be a global pandemic which shuts the whole world down into quarantine — the streets will be empty and school will happen on the internet…” That sounds just like the kinds of stories we were told, but didn’t know if we should actually believe.