We are on vacation today. It’s our first vacation of any kind in about a year, and of course the first since S arrived. We’re only about 90 minutes from home except that an hour ferry wait made it 2.5 hours. Frankly, the trip was pretty rough. When you’re in line for the ferry, you’re inching along at a snail’s pace. Because you’re moving, the baby has to stay in the car seat. You can’t pull off and take a break anywhere or you’ll lose your place in line. And S was fussing and crying and the kids were being annoying. Yeah. Finally, after being here a few hours and getting S to bed, I’m starting to feel a bit relaxed. I don’t think vacationing with a baby is ever really all that relaxing. We’re probably a couple years at least from a vacation that is in any way truly relaxing. But still. It’s good to get out of the house.
Today, my county moves to “Phase 2.” One 5 person gathering per week is now permitted. Retail stores can now reopen at limited capacity, and restaurants can open at 50% capacity. Frankly, I have no interest in going to a retail store or a restaurant or a hair dresser, but I’m glad to see us reopening. However, I’m mostly depressed because Covid cases and deaths are continuing to surge. We had another record high number of cases today since early May, and deaths are up the last couple days as well. The cause is unclear – if the contact tracers know, they aren’t saying. Cases are apparently up in young people and Seattlites, but are not directly linked to the protests (not that I necessarily trust them to tell us if they were.) There have been transmissions in households driving it apparently. But why would there be any change in how Covid is getting transmitted *within* households? That makes no sense.
I should really stay away from the news and DOH website for a few days. Tracking this is not helping anyone. Do I have the willpower to not go to a news website or the DOH website for the rest of our vacation? I have literally not missed a day monitoring the DOH website since a couple weeks after this started.
And . . . here comes the surge. It turns out that having tens of thousands of people congregate in close proximity all day long, up to 60,000, is not an awesome idea in the middle of a pandemic. I said in my last entry that numbers were high that day but had otherwise been good. Well, numbers have been high every day since then, and just jumped again today. We’ve had (in my county) an average of 57 new cases per day over the last week as compared to 36 the week before, a 60% increase, and today we had 94 new cases, the first time we’ve had that many since the first week of May.
In my opinion, the government has lost the moral authority to impose restrictions. They’ve permitted gatherings of tens of thousands while simultaneously forbidding people to leave their homes and have gatherings of even five people. Now, gatherings of five – FIVE – people are permitted but most everything is still shut down. And leaders are issuing supportive statements about the protests. I’ve seen photos of socially distant protests elsewhere, but there has been nothing socially distant about them here. Ug. I’m just sick of all of this.
Also, apparently the Washington state DOH has been overcounting negative tests, meaning that they’ve been understating the percent positive tests. Really? Why are these people so incompetent?
The protests are in some ways an inadvisable, reckless experiment on how large crowds affect the spread of COVID. While I’ve advocated for opening up – with protections for the vulnerable – I would not and have not been in favor of large crowds: sporting events, concerts, large races, etc. And protests.
However, so far, the experiment is going well here in Seattle. We are roughly 12 days out from the first protests, and there has not yet been a spike. Maybe masks work? Photos suggest that while no social distancing has been observed at the vast majority of protests, people are wearing masks, and not just on their chins. Today, the numbers were a little high, but in family. My hope is that somehow, magically, outdoor large protests are not causing significant Covid spread. My fear is that since the protesters are large extremely young that they are getting infected left and right but without significant illness and are not bothering to get tested, and that the spread time will double or triple (to 10 or 15 days) before we see the bump, as we wait for the youth to infect older people, who will experience illness and get tested. (Median incubation is 5 days, last I heard. If you’ve heard differently, let me know.) We’ll see. So far so good.
You may have read about the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone – a no-go zone for police. It reminds me of the no-go zones that were set up in Belfast during the Troubles. These zones help young men (and people who care about young men) who were getting harrassed unjustly by police (or the British military as the case might be). But it’s the vulnerable that suffer in these situations, without government oversight, in the medium or long term. I highly recommend The Milkman on this topic.
We are planning a very modest vacation this coming weekend. We’ll be heading to a VRBO on Whidbey, about an hour away, for four nights. It’s been about a year since our last trip, and I’m really looking forward to it, but also nervous about traveling with the baby. We will cook at home and bring our own groceries, so it’ll be a socially isolated trip, but it’ll be nice to socially distance somewhere new for a while.
So much going on in the world.
I’ve thought a lot about what to say about George Floyd, and Ahmaud. Obviously it’s wrong. What to do? I remember very clearly the protests in Ferguson occurring in 2014, because I was in labor with Briony in 8/19, ten days after Michael Brown was shot. It seems not much has changed since then. The only person whose really given me hope about this situation is Barack Obama. I guess that’s sort of his trademark, hope. I wish we could re-elect him.
I’ve been swearing up and down that I’m going to vote Republican locally for the first time in my life in the upcoming elections due to what I perceive as King County’s ineffective and unreasonable Covid restrictions, which ultimately hurt the poor the most. This kind of thing makes it really hard to do that.
The US is not the only country bungling things. I was fairly amused to read the tail of Japan’s “abenomasks.” Link.
A friend of mine lives in Japan. She is Japanese, but lived for a while in the PNW before moving back to Japan. She has a sweet little girl L’s age. Anyway, she’s been posting on FB about her experiences with Coronavirus, and it’s alarming to say the least. For example, today she posted about how nice it was to be able to go out without a mask because they were “in nature” as opposed to in a place with other people. Then, she posted that school is canceled until April, and likely until the end of the year. Her daughter will be homeschooling online.
There is a very legitimate possibility school will be canceled in the US as well. How would that even work? Unlike in Japan, where most moms stay home, in the US most mothers work, meaning that one parent would have to stop working. I can’t even imagine how that would work. As in, it wouldn’t. Also, shaking in my boots at the thought of having to try to entertain my kids for months without going anywhere with people.
Fatality rates for this thing are about 20x that of the flu. They seriously need to speed up work on the vaccine! If a vaccine is even possible for this.
I can’t believe that we only have 75% of the results back from Iowa. If I were Buttigieg, I’d be furious. Speaking of Mr. B, am I the only one who has no idea how to pronounce his name? I like Buttigieg, I do, but I have to say that I do not think being mayor of South Bend qualifies you to become president, even if you are smart, good-looking and a veteran. We set the qualification bar pretty low with Obama (who turned out to be awesome) and lower still with Trump (not so awesome), but honestly, I think you could argue Buttigieg is even less qualified than Trump, if that’s possible. But seriously, the head of the Iowa Democrats needs to step down. Also, this debacle is why having the government stage a massive takeover of healthcare is a terrible idea. Having a government health insurance *option* is the right choice. If it’s run well, everyone will choose that option, and private healthcare will mostly disappear. If it’s run poorly, we’ll all be glad we’re not forced to use it.
S is sleeping on my chest, and I’m tempted to put her down, but she’ll likely wake up. I’m desperate for a nap, though. We went to the grocery store together today, for the second time, and she was awake the whole time, looking around, just drinking in the scenery. It must be an amazing thing, seeing a grocery store for the first time.