The Pandemic Diary: May 8

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.

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May 8: I went to the store again today. Chicken was back in stock and there was a good amount of it, even if it was rationed. It was totally gone last weekend after reports of processing plants being shut down due to workers getting sick.

My guess is, like most shortages we’ve seen, it was more about people making panicked runs on the stores than it was about there simply being a dearth of available product. Maybe going on Friday morning instead of trying to shop on Saturday and Sunday makes a difference too. I’m not sure. I used to go to the store almost every other day, often shopping for each night’s meal on the same day. I had the time. Now I shop less frequently, doing stock-up runs to limit how much I’m out and about. It’s caused me to pay better attention to when stores stock the shelves and when people shop. I suppose I’m lucky that my schedule is flexible enough to give me those kinds of options.

The meat shortages, inevitably, have made me think again about how much meat we eat. We’re not a red-meat-and-potatoes-every-night kind of family, but we still probably eat more meat than we should.

Some of it is necessary. Allison’s celiac disease and some of the intolerances that often engenders makes it difficult to for her to eat a lot the traditional meat substitutes like lentils, chickpeas, and beans, at least in more than moderate quantities. Today she got a pack of tofu. It’s been a while since she’s done that but I think it’s worth trying again. I love tofu — a Thai-chili tofu is my go-to protein at our favorite taco place — but I’ve not been super successful at cooking it well at home. I’d like to remedy that and now is a perfect time to do it.

Short of that, Allison’s system does best when things are kept relatively simple, and that often involves meat. She’s on a run of some of her best digestive health in years these days and, in addition to some supplements she takes, we’re mostly crediting it to the chicken bowls: grilled or sous vide chicken breasts with either green beans or carrots over rice. For the last year or so I’ve cooked up the chicken and the rice for her a day or two in advance and she has the bowls for lunch. Health-wise, it’s certainly been an improvement over turkey sandwiches or soups and things. I want for her to be able to keep that up, but if there continue to be problems with supply, we may have to change that.

Not all of our meat eating is necessary, but that which is not necessary is fun. I have a smoker that Allison and her parents got me last year. This weekend I’ll probably take it out for the first time since last Thanksgiving and make some ribs. Ribs have been pretty easy to find. This weekend they’ll be pretty easy to cook.

Sorry if you thought that was going to turn into a “maybe I should become a vegetarian” thing. I’m sympathetic, and do eat more plant-based foods than I used to, but really, my impulses to be anti-meat are almost exclusively health-related as opposed to philosophical or political. I mean, one of my greatest legal victories of all time came against PETA.

 

After posting yesterday’s entry in which I criticized Ohio’s governor for relenting on a prudent anti-pandemic plan and, instead, just going ahead and reopening everything, a lot of people responded with some variation of “Hey, that’s unfair! The governor had no choice but to open things up because [insert facts detailing the ways in which society is totally breaking down]!”

Folks, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but if fewer than two months’ worth of half-assed efforts to prevent thousands upon thousands of people dying leads to a total breakdown of society, it kind of makes my point about how our leaders have totally failed us. Moreover, the fact that all this back and forth was going on as half of my timeline was watching baseball games from Asia with fans in the stands, made possible because the leaders of those countries actually took all of this seriously, should probably speak for itself as well.

Lots of countries, actually. Most countries that are not The United States:

This was always a winnable fight. The United States simply chose not to try to win. So we lost.

 

I’m still not understanding the anti-mask/anti-social distancing sentiment out there. Then again, maybe it’s all driven by the fact that the people who freak out about wearing masks are kind of stupid:

Last week, Costco announced it would be requiring all shoppers to wear a mask or face covering “that covers the mouth and nose at all times” while in stores nationwide . . . Costco faced immediate backlash from a sizable number of people who declared they would no longer shop at the big-box retailer if forced to cover their faces.

Someone should tell those people that, given Costco’s very intent is to keep people without masks OUT of their stores, boycotting their stores because you won’t wear a mask is . . . not exactly something that is going to upset Costco very much.

Or maybe it’s driven by the fact that these people are total jerks:

That tweet is kind of amazing. It suggests that not only is the author a gigantic baby who has absolutely no sense of perspective at all, but that he somehow couldn’t overcome the rather minor obstacles he cited in order to buy a toaster. He was totally and completely thwarted because of . . . hand sanitizer?

The replies to that tweet are even more amazing:

One possible takeaway here is that the modern conservatism movement is 95% about people desperately wanting validation for being gigantic assholes. And that probably is the case with respect to masks in certain contexts. But then I step away from the Internet and realize that there’s a pretty big disconnect between this sort of sentiment and what actually happens in the real world.

There is certainly a fringe group of people who aggressively flout norms and rules, but they don’t constitute anything approaching a majority. Even if you go to the biggest Wal-Mart in the most conservative exurb in America, you don’t see the sort of anarchy these keyboard warriors are promoting. They’re not driving on the left side of the street in defiance of “big government’s tyrannical traffic laws.” There may be a lot of oblivious people going the wrong way down a recently-created one-way aisle, but they’re not strutting as they do it. Most people are, generally, trying to do the right thing.

The people tweeting about smiling at dirty looks and not giving a shit are engaging in something akin to fan fiction. They’re the wimpy guy who gets home and fantasizes about beating up the bully but never does anything about it. But now, unlike before, they have an outlet where they can share their fantasies. And there are thousands of like-minded people who hang out there who will back them up and tell them that no, in reality, they are not cowards.

 

When I think about it harder, I realize that the anti-mask stuff is a function of both stupid people and jerks. It’s not mutually exclusive. Indeed, there’s a third category of folks driving this: our leaders.

Yesterday I mentioned Ohio’s legislative leaders who are making a political point out of not wearing masks. You’ve no doubt seen that President Trump and Vice President Pence aren’t wearing masks, even flouting the rules of hospitals containing sick COVID-19 patients in the process.

In related news, Katie Miller, Pence’s press secretary has been diagnosed with COVID-19. She is the one in this photo without the mask:

 

In addition to her, one of President Trump’s personal valets has tested positive for coronavirus, as has Ivanka Trump’s personal assistant.

I do not offer this to make light of these peoples’ illnesses, because no one’s illness is good news. Nor do I offer it to suggest that their illnesses were deserved because, similarly, no one deserves to be sick. I simply offer it to note that a virus does not care about the image you or your employers are trying to project. It does not care about how defiant you are. It does not care if the guidelines set forth by public officials are, in your view, an infringement upon your personal freedoms. Primarily because it’s a fucking virus.

 

Some people won’t wear masks. Others do wear them but let the mask slip:

They don’t care about us. Not even a little bit. We should stop pretending that they do.

 

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.