The Pandemic Diary: April 11

Like everyone else I am having trouble thinking about anything other than the coronavirus pandemic and the shockwaves it has sent, and will continue to send, through the system. As it began to unfold I found myself thinking, talking, and posting about it fairly constantly. In an effort to try to keep it confined to a given time and place, both physically and psychologically, I am keeping a diary of it all.

Follow this Category for all entires.

 

April 11: The Los Angeles Times had a story this morning about how, possibly, COVID-19 was spreading around the Bay Area and northern California earlier than many people believe. It tracks a handful of cases, tries to piece together their infection vectors, and gets some experts to go on record suggesting that people could’ve been carrying it in December.

Early in this diary I mentioned that both my ex-wife and I observed some odd illnesses with both of our kids and with one of her coworkers in January. A severe cough and a fever, particularly with Carlo. Everyone was tested for flu and it came back negative. Anna was diagnosed with a sinus infection, but she didn’t have the same sort of symptoms one usually gets with a sinus infection. No nasal drainage or pressure or things like that. For her it was just a stubborn fever and fatigue. Carlo was not diagnosed with a sinus infection. He’s always had severe coughs whenever he gets hit with colds or the various sorts of viruses that swirl around in the winter. Barking coughs that are likely a holdover from his childhood history of croup. When he gets like this they usually just say he has “crud.” Both of the kids were given antibiotics, Anna due to her diagnosis, Carlo because “well, why not?” Both of them saw their illnesses run their course over 7-10 days.

I have no basis for thinking that they or anyone else around here actually had COVID-19. I’m an Occam’s Razor guy and the fact is that a conclusion to that end requires a ton of logical and evidentiary jumps that “Anna had a sinus infection and Carlo had a bad cold” do not. And that’s before you get into the fact that no one, at least around here, who has been studying and tracking all of this has even suggested it as a possibility. There’s also the fact that, though I’ve been holding it basically together mentally speaking, I cannot discount the possibility that I’m irrationally looking for some way out of all of this for myself and my family. “Maybe we already had it and we’ll all be fine,” he thought, wishfully, before retreating into his bunker.

But I do wonder. I wonder if the antibiotics my kids took didn’t really do anything but, rather, they were just riding something else out. I wonder if, a year or two from now when people have written and published their papers about all of this, that we won’t find out that this all progressed differently than we believed. I wonder if we’ve all been so distracted about the mostly disastrous response to COVID-19 in this country, we’ve overlooked its spread.

I read this line in the paper — “Parents, first told their children would be spared as the disease hit older generations, now bury their kids in anger and await funerals that may never come” — and wonder if there aren’t all manner of things we thought we knew about all of this that will turn out to be false.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this, I’m seeing that some wacko conspiracy theorists and grifter scumbags like Clay Travis have cited the L.A. Times article and similar sentiment elsewhere, for the proposition that this is all “overblown” or a “hoax” or that it’s just like seasonal flu or something like that. I hope that anyone who has been reading this diary appreciates that I do not, under any circumstances fall in with that lot.

These people want everything to be “normal” and are hellbent, for purposes of their brand, on appearing to be prescient or contradictory or whatever, and they latch on to stories like that in the L.A. Times as evidence for their views. I, in contrast, think that, to the extent articles like that in the L.A. Times are revealing anything, they’re revealing that this could all be worse than officials, particularly those in the Trump Administration, have let on.

Bottom line: even if it does turn out to be true that a lot of people got the virus earlier than we expected, it does not prove the point that Clay Travis and these other wackos think. It does not mean that this is overblown or less sever than reported. To the contrary: it means that there are almost certainly hundreds or maybe thousands more deaths out that have not been attributed to COVID-19.

 

I know the conventional wisdom is that everyone is supposed to be eating like crap and not taking care of themselves since they’ve been forced to stay home, but I’ve probably been taking better care of myself since this all started. Part of it was the cutting back on evening drinks which I’ve mentioned before, but a lot of it is my walking. I’ve talked about those hikes I take before too. I took another one today: six-miles around New Albany, Ohio:

Pretty brisk pace for an old man I suppose. 116 steps per minute according to my little app. I do a faster pace for a shorter duration on the treadmill. I have hills on the treadmill too, so it’s better, but I don’t have any fresh air on the treadmill and I need the fresh air more right now.

I’m well aware of how lucky I am to be able to take these walks. Living in a smallish suburb that borders on actual countryside allows me and everyone else around here to get outside in ways that people in cities can’t without being too close to other people. We have a main leisure trail that tracks US 62 and it can get tad crowded on nice days but it’s nothing like having to rely on city sidewalks and either crowded or possibly closed parks. I’m not all that appreciative of Ohio very often, but between our state’s excellent-so-far handling of the pandemic and the space to move around as spring begins to creep in, I have a lot to be thankful for right now.

 

The Ohio primary which was postponed back on March 17 was rescheduled for April 28. I don’t know if that date will hold but even if it does, I’m none too interested in voting in person so I requested an absentee ballot. I just filled it out. It took less time to do the entire thing, put it in the envelope and walk it out to the mailbox than simply driving to my polling place does. It also had more security attached to it than in-person voting ever has:

  • It had to come to me, at my home, so no one could simply walk in and tell a stranger that they are me;
  • It required that I provide personal information that only I possess. The same information that is on my photo ID; and
  • It required the same signature they ask for at the polling location, so it can be matched with the same signature-on-file they have in the poll books, which is the primary form of verification Ohio voting has used basically forever.

It’s simple. It’s secure. It encourages greater voter participation by not requiring people to rearrange their schedules to make it to the polls. In light of all of this, anyone who opposes voting-from-home or voting-by-mail is either ignorant as to how it works or else they fear that more people voting would be bad for them politically, which is, by definition, anti-democratic.

We should have voting-from-home/vote-by-mail everywhere. It should be automatic (i.e. no need to request a ballot; one should be automatically sent to all registered voters). It should also remain on paper, through the actual mail, not online or via some app or whatever because (a) paper/mail is time-tested and basically foolproof; and (b) apps/technology are untested, hackable, create barriers for older voters or those without access to technology, and would likely just create an excuse for state officials to give technology contracts to private business, which opens the door for corruption.

There’s no legitimate reason not to do this.

 

The COVID-19 death toll in the United States became the highest in the world today. We passed Italy.  As of today, 20,400 people have died. Our caseload is also the world’s highest, with about 526,000. That’s in about six weeks which, per above might not be the relevant timeframe when this is all said and done. And there are many reasons to believe this is all underreported too.

To the extent you think God is an architect, now you know, He’s nothing but a pipe bomb ready to blow.

 

(Featured Image: Library of Congress)

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the national baseball writer for NBCSports.com. He writes about things other than sports at Craigcalcaterra.com. He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.