A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 13

March 21, a Saturday

Oink, oink: In Washington, lobbyists representing interests from pig farmers to drone makers, “are burning up the phone lines and flooding email inboxes trying to capitalize on the stimulus bills moving quickly through Congress,” says the Times.

We’ve now been away from the city for over two weeks, and as might have been anticipated, New York State is now the epicenter of the epidemic in the U.S.  

Half of the country’s confirmed infections are there, and only 6% of its population: The number of cases is up to 9,000, from under 700 earlier in the week. Allowed to remain open are groceries, takeout restaurants, drug stores, laundromats, and liquor stores. Testing in the city is ahead of that in China and South Korea, with 10,000 people tested on Thursday night.

The IRS moved its federal-tax deadline from April 15 to July 15.

Stocks have fallen 35% from where they were in mid-February.

Around the country, there is a hodgepodge of restrictions. Bars remain open in Knoxville, Tennessee. In Chicago and New York, virtually all public places are shuttered. Los Angeles has ordered its gun shops closed, but allowed to remain open are marijuana dispensaries, news media outlets, some farmers markets, and bicycle repair stores. Also funeral homes.

Internationally, testing varies hugely country by country. Australia had tests in January, thanks to China’s release that month of the coronavirus genetic code. At that same time in Singapore, screening was underway in airports, and South Korean labs were pushing out test kits. Meanwhile, in Europe and the U.S., tests were hard to get and politicians were unfocused, apathetic, and in conflict with each other.

Dinner: more chili con carne, green salad, Maria cookies.

Entertainment: More episodes of Netflix’ The Crown and one episode of The Detectorists, a winning Brit comedy about the obsessions, private woes, and small victories of some metal-detector-wielding nerds. 

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