A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 3

Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

March 11

We are learning a lot about standing in lines: lines to vote, lines to get food.

Another idle day looms. 46 degrees and sunny, so what’s to complain about?

Biden wins the prized Michigan primary along with Mississippi, Idaho, and Missouri. Bernie apparently wins North Dakota. Washington state remains too close to call. 

Hundreds of ballots remain uncounted from the California primary held on Super Tuesday over a week ago. Why? States continue to close polling sites even as giant lines snake into those sites remaining open. Yet there are no barricades or riots in the streets. The people are so beaten down it’s a wonder that anyone votes.

In Russia, Putin pushes legislation that will allow him to serve for an additional two six-year terms when his tenure expires in 2024. In the event, his term in office will be longer than that of Stalin. In 2036, I would guess he’ll look and act even more of a fossil than Joe Biden. Will he still strip off his shirt and ride horseback?

Meanwhile, on the plague front, two British MPs including the health minister, three Australian Grand Prix formula one race drivers, and several members of the Arsenal football team are self-isolating after being diagnosed with the coronavirus. Arsenal! Things are getting serious. 

The Bank of England cuts rates to the lowest in history.

In Europe, empty plane “ghost flights” have become a phenomenon. In most countries, airlines that fail to utilize at least 80% of assigned takeoff or landing “slots” risk having these reallocated to a competitor. Everywhere, ticket prices are plummeting.

The U.S. now has more than 1,000 cases of the virus, according to the Times, with more than 170 in New York, which has the third-highest total among states after Washington and California. But no one has died in New York yet. In deep-red Arizona, 48% of citizens disapprove of Donald Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The World Health Organization officially deems the outbreak to be a pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, offers nightmarish numbers in testimony before Congress. “”If we are complacent and don’t do really aggressive containment and mitigation, the number could go way up…many, many millions,” he said. COVID-19 is ten times more lethal than seasonal flu, it seems.

The Dow closes 1,460 points down, off 20% from its February high. It’s now a bear market.

Dinner coming soon: a bacchanalia of leftovers. Half a meatball each plus a smidgen of pasta; asparagus; half a baked potato each with lots of sour cream; and more green salad.

Tonight’s entertainment: episode 6 of the Swedish suspense drama, Twin; one episode of new Spanish show Felix; another old Miss Marple.

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