A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 7

The obscure object of desire.

Sunday, March 15

Still sunny and cool. Are the nation’s churches crowded or empty, I wonder.

Georgia delays its presidential primary till May 19. The tech-oriented city of Menlo Park, Calif., sends out an email announcing “sweeping changes,” including a ban of all gatherings of over 50 people and “severe preventative measures for any that involve between 10 and 50 people.” Someone sounds embarrassed that they didn’t take more stringent measures earlier: ““Each time we receive new information, it gives us all an opportunity to readjust our habits,” says Mayor Cecilia Taylor. 

Spain and France crack down on social life, shuttering bars and restaurants and telling everyone to stay indoors. Infections in the latter country have doubled in 72 hours, to 4,500, with 91 deaths. Spain anticipates 10,000 cases in the coming week. Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia close their borders to outsiders.

According to one Times account: “The virus has infected more than 132,000 globally. A vast majority of cases have been mild, with limited symptoms. But the virus’s progression can be quick, at which point the chances of survival plummet. At one recent count, around 68,000 people had recovered, while nearly 5,000 had died.”

Meanwhile, another plague looms: “inefficiencies in the marketplace,” in the words of Tennessean Noah Colvin. He and his brother Matt glommed up 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer from various small regional stores, then offered them on Amazon for up to $70 each. Soon, along with eBay, the online retailer clamped down, evicting thousands of such price gougers from their site. Noah opines that he was just providing a public service.

No breakfast. Lunch: leftover pasta, hummus, and an orange.

Still reading the Sunday Times at 3:41 p.m. I learn that sporting-goods retailer Modell’s has declared bankruptcy and is closing all its stores. At one time, the company was a reliable source of ad revenue for WFAN and other baseball-broadcasting radio; all fans are familiar with the baritone blast of a song “Gotta Go to Mo’s.” If there’s ever another season, I guess car dealerships like Major World or Lexus of Westchester will have to do the heavy lifting.

Times wag and op-ed writer Maureen Dowd observes: “The most totemic parts of America — Broadway, Hollywood, Disneyland, March Madness, the Masters, baseball spring training, the Met, late-night comedy shows, tours of the Capitol, Tom Hanks — are shut down as we struggle to figure out what, exactly, we’ve got on our Purell-soaked hands here.” Washington’s gorgeous cherry blossom season comes into flower, meanwhile “the days grow longer even as the darkness spreads,” she writes.

Time to take a shower and prepare some stuff for dinner. Tonight: lentil soup with hotdogs, corn muffins, and more salad.

Evening entertainment: Bernie vs. Biden debate via democrats.org.

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