A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 35

This won’t hurt, really…

Sunday, April 12

Just outside my window, a squirrel and a brilliant red cardinal are searching through the spilled birdseed below the bird feeder, attempting to find a kernel that still has some nourishment inside. 

Their lives aren’t very different from ours.  But our ability to plan ahead may be a bit better.

“I figure a roll of toilet paper lasts for about seven days,” Emily announces. She has been making a careful study of how far we can stretch our provisions. 

Our stock of evaporated milk is beginning to run low. Emily has also put in time attempting to figure out how best to acquire more—considering the offerings of various online vendors. We’re happy with the Nido Fortificada, but a lot of sellers have upped the price dramatically, looking to take advantage of the COVID-19 quarantine. Amazon’s comments section is laden with complaints from irritated customers. 

Meanwhile, back in the city, the hell continues for health-care workers. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has posted a tweet with an attached “Now This Media” video of a nurse describing her “worst shift yet.”  “There’s only so much anyone can take,” says D’nell Schmall: “You just walk into a room and there’s a dead body in there. I’m tired of calling families and telling them that news.” Sobbing, she continues, saying “I cried the whole way home in the Uber tonight…I don’t think people understand how stressful this job is.”

Researchers are hard at work on vaccines, says The Guardian: “On Friday, the journal Nature reported that 78 vaccine projects had been launched round the globe – with a further 37 in development,” the newspaper notes, and some vaccine developers plan to begin human testing this year. The Guardian article also asserts that COVID-19 almost certainly came from bats, which have a fierce immune response system—prompting the coronovirus’ equally fierce attack. Humans who have been infected are developing immunity—but scientists say it might last for only a couple of years.

Another calamity: The U.S. Postal Service is set to run out of cash in September without federal aid. Mail volume has plunged thanks to COVID-19. And a 2006 law required that the P.O. pre-fund decades of pension costs—a GOP measure supposed to encourage privatization. Trump is opposed to any bailout—some say because he hates the much-discussed idea of voting by mail which he believes will favor Democrats. No postal service means no mail ballots. But Vox suggests that Mr. MAGA’s hostility to the P.O. has to do with his nutty and obsessive hatred for Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. Trump wants the Postal Service to double what it charges Amazon for parcel delivery.

Tonight’s dinner: turkey meatloaf, green beans (formerly frozen), lettuce and spinach salad.

Tonight’s entertainment: One episode of Bordertown (increasingly hard to penetrate), two episodes of Babylon Berlin, and one episode of Yes, Minister.

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