A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 9

This supermarket looks empty now, but….

Tuesday, March 17

Anticipating a trip to the supermarket, the question is—which one? There are three within range, and all may be crowded and lacking in inventory. The largish IGA in Amagansett says over the phone that they are expecting a shipment on Wednesday morning, so the best time to come might be then, at about 8:30 a.m. Yesterday, I had a brief conversation with the new neighbor next door, who said he’d just come from that store and there was very little food to be had. I’ve also just called the large King Kullen in Bridgehampton, where they sounded very stressed and uncertain: supposed to get 3 large deliveries today but the trucks might not come. Current hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. but that might change—it’s changed twice already, said a harried-sounding manager. I’ll probably try the Amagansett store tomorrow.

Another question: Which store is least likely to be crowded and infectious?

In a recent robocall, the East Hampton town manager announced that all town offices would be closed—-but the town dump would remain open. Since it’s normally closed on Wednesday, I may go there today to dump some stuff and purchase a new permit, which must be displayed starting in April.

In the city, restaurants are able to offer food only for takeout or via delivery. Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington State and Puerto Rico have also announced dining shutdowns.

As the number of cases in the U.S. soars above 4,000, six northern California counties order citizens to “shelter in place.” Canada has shut its borders to all noncitizens. Primary elections in Georgia, Kentucky, and Louisiana have been postponed.

A rush among companies to demand federal aid is likely. Airlines lead the pack, already saying they’ll need a $50 billion bailout. If only Joe Biden were prez, they’d be in the money. Today, Trump’s people mull over then promise a stipend of $1,000 per citizen. A one-off? Monthly?

A hodgepodge of coronavirus-fighting regulations and restrictions prevails, varying from city to city and state to state. In some places, for instance, all movie theaters are shut, while elsewhere chains block off seats in every other row in order to maintain social distancing.

At 10:30, I’m off to the dump, only to find that the dump office is closed. I ask a worker if old recycling-center permits, which expire in April, will still be good for a while. “I haven’t been told anything,” she says.

Back home and a return to scary reading. For every person who tests positive for coronavirus, there are likely 5 to 10 others in their community with undetected infections, scientists say.

Lunch: Sapporo Ichiban ramen, orange, dried apricot.

The Times reports that primary voting is light but rife with confusion in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois. The IRS deadline for tax returns gets delayed beyond April 15, as perhaps does the quarterly estimated-tax deadline.

At 5:29, I begin scuffling around to make dinner, a repeat of lentil soup and muffins. Instead of a salad, we’ll have the remaining asparagus.

Tonight’s entertainment: iTunes has some attractive options, but I can’t seem to make the rentals button work on Little Women, Knives Out, or Parasite. They keep asking me to authorize my computer, then when I’ve done so, I am informed that the computer was already authorized but nonetheless it has been re-authorized. And still I can’t rent anything; and my Amazon account has been frozen due to a credit-charge change.

So, it’s time for the seventh episode of Twin on Mhz, followed by an episode of Yes, Minister on Acorn.

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