A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 16

“The sirocco is oppressive. Not good for the health.”

Tuesday, March 24

At 1:00 a.m., Emily succeeds in posting an online order for a Peapod food delivery, supposed to happen between 6:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday, April 6. 

The early-season tick spraying takes place at 8:30 a.m. This consists of a guy in a Save-A-Tree sweatshirt, equipped with a tank of toxic stuff strapped to his back, applying the noxious spray to the lawn and shrubs with what looks a lot like a leaf blower. Maybe it also deters COVID-19.

Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice nicely captures many governments’ hush-hush-it-will-go-away approach. At first, having heard nothing, the novel’s central figure notices that the number of visitors to Venice seems to be declining, particularly non-Italians. But no one says very much. A barber inadvertently mentions “the sickness,” then clams up; a sweetish smell of germicide is in the air; and precautionary placards, which show “every sign of minimizing an existing situation,” warn against infections of the gastric system. It turns out, he learns after questioning several people, that there is cholera in the city. “Death unseen and unacknowledged was devouring and laying waste in the narrow streets.”

On that happy thought—dinner: Balsamic chicken, couscous, and a green salad.

Evening entertainment: Two more episodes of The Crown (it seems there are a total of 40 in the can) and one episode of The Detectorists.

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