It’s been a very rough and harrowing three weeks since both President Donald Trump and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker have decried this stay-at-home order. And people have been listening too, to some degree. Subway trains and buses are virtually empty, each time I’ve looked up and noticed, while on nightly walks around my neighborhood. Chicagoans are heeding the warning, as are most in our nation. Stay-at-home. Stay-cation. Stay-where-you-are. Stay-er. Stay-put. Stay-of-execution.
Reiterating, again, except for that daily walk the dog or walk around the neighborhood by yours truly, I for one, have been heeding the warning, except of course, when it comes to getting groceries/food or picking up medicine or routine doctor visits. But I wondered how worth it, it’s been when I have to go visit a doctor’s office, when the building in which the both the clinic and specialized doctors are housed, has new house rules.
And as a result, there are fewer cars on the streets during the day. Empty buses all day long through the late evening. Empty subway cars and commuter trains, looking ghostly. Empty sidewalks, save for the occasional dog walker, jogger or couple with baby stroller. All known forms of human life indoors. Business conducted virtually. Internet overload. Hoarding is the new norm.
Welcome to Covid-19, World Pandemic 2020, where, as Marc Smith, founder of Poetry Slam might say, “rules are meant to be broken.” Or in some cases, rules are made up as they go along, because they have no rules to begin with. Or the every popular statement, until further notice.
Are people paying attention to that? Until further notice, more than likely means, that there is no plan in place because no one bothered to think ahead in case of a disaster, such as a pandemic sprang up. And even if they had a plan in place, some places of business haven’t even practiced the plan and generally ignored it until the actual event occurred.
|The lake is closed|
|Sid sports his mask from Chris Kondos Boutique|
But then you know, there are such disasters as weather-related incidents as blizzards, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, spewing volcanoes, windstorms and flooding. And then there are other sorts of manmade disasters like fires, spontaneous combustion, world wars, mass shootings and pandemics. And strangely enough, most people listen and obey, that is until pandemonium breaks out, coupled with fear and paranoia and conspiracy theories a-plenty. All brought to you by the 21st century. Haven’t people learned anything yet?
One thing at a time though. When a business or someone within in the business is instructed to tell you, “Until further notice, “ what the fuck does that even mean? It could mean, that no one in upper management bothered to make a back-up plan in the event of a major disaster.
More than likely they have, but not on the level of that one had hoped they might have. And still I’ve been asking, what the heck does that even mean? I still don’t know. Well, it’s all a matter of interpretation and I can start with my own experiences, as most people can, but mine is as unique as the next guy.
I attend smaller more approachable and personal medical clinics, which is similar to the traditional free clinic. The doctors are far more reasonable than a regular office doctor, that one has to jump hoops through in order to get an appointment and even then, the appointment seems to only last for 10 minutes or less.
|Shane Bugbee sports his cool mask|
The traditional free clinic however, seems to have changed all of that, meaning I get to see and have a consultation with a doctor far greater than 10 minutes, more like 30-40 minutes, because the doctor’s time isn’t totally eaten up by corporation HMO/PPO paperwork.
Is going to a traditional free clinic any better than going to a more corporate medical doctor with better connections to specialized doctors and nurses? More than likely, yes, but since I barely get sick, though Covid-19 could change all of that, I probably prefer this method.
Besides, people in this day and age are self-medicating anyway and only seem to go to a doctor when it’s an extreme emergency. Self-medicating includes the medical marijuana crowd, something I’m not privy to speak about since I’m not a part of, though I am certain, friends of mine can speak on and over-the-counter medication like aspirin, cough syrup, allergy medicine, ointments, and medical supplies like bandages, and thermometers.
And of course, there’s the most traditional of all medication. Advice from friends, family, Internet forums and social media. Herein lie several challenges. Before my mom passed away, I always told her when I was under the weather, she advised me on what to do or get. She always felt empathic to my circumstance.
A lot of the time if I had a cold or flu, she recommended crackers/saltines and hot chicken soup, which despite legal ramifications and stereotypes aside, isn’t a tradition that didn’t start with the Jewish people, but more than likely from Chinese tradition, as far back as the 1st century, though like everything else, was adopted, hijacked, stolen or dressed similarly to look like their own, which is perhaps why, in both modern and contemporary times, the Jewish people are so closely associated with it. And still, I could be totally clueless.
And most all of my friends have been helpful, offering me lots of practical advice, which believe me is good for lifting my spirits up in these unknown days of blah. My family, which now, due to circumstances surrounding my mom’s passing nearly three years ago, consist of my younger brother Benjamin and my dad. I talk to Benjamin about one or two times a week either by social media or by phone and that seems to be all right for now and of course I speak to my dad nearly every night by phone.
My dad, since my mom’s passing, has certainly stepped up to the plate, which I rarely saw during the time of my mom’s life. Not that that’s a bad thing, but I guess since I relied more on mom than dad, I must have hardly ever noticed it. Dad seems funnier, snappier and honestly cares about me (not that he wouldn’t ever), although I do have to say that he nearly says the same words every time I speak with him, “You woke me up,” to which I respond, “Dad, my job as a son is to call you and wake you up.”
He cares a lot about my health and would much rather see me healthy than unhealthy, which I’ve experienced many times over, especially since this past winter, when I was struck with both strep throat and flu, shortly before and shortly after I traveled to and from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania by way of Philadelphia and New York, to spend Uncle Mickey’s 70th birthday with Uncle Mickey and my friend, Grue, who lives in Philadelphia.
And then there’s my friends whom I’ve been checking in with almost everyday, from the ones in the almost immediate area, to other friends from around the world, most notably, Denmark. Denmark, as many of you might know, is like my second home away from home, besides New York, in the category of favorite places to be and also, I’ve toured there three times since 2010.
Irony is as irony does, but one thing is for certain, in Denmark, my friends are all the same, from grouchy callous Johnny Concrete, whom I asked if he was wearing a mask and gloves, went nearly ballistic on me. “Don' t be bloody daft!” He screamed at me in an email. Concrete’s approach seemed to have soften up this afternoon (April 5), when he calmly asked me “how are you holding up? What a difference a few days make.
Then, there are my friends Marcus and Elfie in Hemmed, longtime friends Pedro and Camilla in Aarhus, and Karsten in Harlev. They all seem to be holding up just fine, not paying attention to the mainstream news as much and just carrying on with everyday life.
They too, are receiving the national emergency texts like we are here in the United States, except theirs are coming directly from the Danish local police departments, as opposed to from their countries’ leaders, since Denmark is a socialist country and is ruled by both a prime minister and a monarchy (queen, prince, etc).
Upon reading about other countries methods in the news, it is far worse. Enforcement of the law is serious business and authorities on the prowl and in charge don’t hesitate to enforce the laws and ordinances on the books and also, of course, apply the until further notice plan.
In Chicago, for example, mayor Lori Lightfoot closed all lakefront property, including adjacent parks, the downtown Riverwalk, Millennium Park and quite a few of the bike paths and trails. “It’s time to get serious folks, “ she was quoted as saying in press reports. While most of the 50 states have stay-at-home orders, only yesterday on April 1, April Fools’ Day, coincidently, Florida’s governor decided well after three weeks into the pandemic, to do the same thing, luckily for him, not as many people have fallen ill, compared to the epicenter of New York, followed closely behind by Louisiana.
Other countries such as the Philippines, have in place, their own law and order, which is if people are caught outside gathering in groups of 10 or more, prepare to be shot at by police. No questions asked. In Germany, only two or less people can gather together. It was Denmark, however, that really seemed to lead the charge in the beginning, when the entire country decided to shut down completely, save for essential services including gas stations, medical personnel, police, fire, grocery stores and restaurants, that offer pickup and delivery services. They also closed their borders.
Other countries followed suit, including Holland, Norway, France and Germany. Almost immediately, every European country fell in line, followed by other continents and finally by North America. President Trump imposed a 30-day travel ban to Europe with certain restrictions.
The hardest hit countries it seems have been China, where the coronavirus began, followed by Italy and then America itself. Cites big, small and in between almost immediately adopted their own versions of lockdown. Primarily we, as citizens have been asked to stay home and only go out as necessary. Those who have jobs for the moment, work from home, for the 9.9 million plus workers now unemployed, life is a bit of a struggle.
The good news, is that the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Senate dropped their usual gripes long enough to work together and passed a major stimulus bill to the tune of 3.2 trillion dollars that helps bail out the airlines industry, major corporations, helps pay those out of work and provides a one time stimulus check for all Americans and working families, those on disability, veterans and everyone else for that matter. Quite frankly, this bill covers all its bases beautifully. Although checks are scheduled to be sent out by mid-April (2020), rumors have been spread that checks may arrive as late as December. To be honest, rumors don’t help anyone. All rumors do is fan flames and spread panic and fear and paranoia and worst of all, panic buying. That’s just plain wrong.
But what about all of the existing mental illness disorders that will rise out of the ashes as a result of this pandemic and be returned onto our nation? There are a lot of them, including in no particular order; depression, anxiety, false fear, paranoia, PTSD, sleep apnea, overeating, hoarding (think toilet paper), isolationitis (social distancing), screen dependency, photo-shaming, alcoholism, pill addiction, skin irritation (due to wearing latex or rubber gloves), skin hunger (think shaking hands, fist bumping, hugs, touching) OCD (think washing hands frequently, as recommended by the CDC) and many others.
If anyone stands to gain any ground here in terms of future business and finances, it will be the toilet paper industry, mental health professionals, soap manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and hand sanitizer makers. Perhaps even President Trump and his cronies will make a buck or two also.
And then there’s the hoarding aspect. In the past whenever there’s been a blizzard, we overbuy a lot of things. Milk. Bread. Butter. Water. Batteries. This time, oddly enough, the hoarding is a little altered. It’s still bread and water, as well as rice, ground beef, pasta and toilet paper.
Toilet paper? Why the heck toilet paper of all things? Because toilet paper is truly the most quintessential human basic need of comforting ourselves in the simplest of ways. We sleep. We eat. We bathe. We shit. We piss. We use toilet paper. Not corncobs. Not leaves. Not baby wipes. Not paper napkins. Not Kleenex. Not paper towels. Just good old-fashioned fucking toilet paper.
It wouldn’t be the first time a toilet paper shortage was created. Back in 1973 during the oil embargo, which meant shortages of paper, gas and meat products among other things, Wisconsin Republican Congressman Harold Froehlich issued a press statement on December 11, 1973, in which he said, "The U.S. may face a shortage of toilet paper within a few months," and suggested to rationing toilet paper as a possible solution to fix the problem.
The district he represented included manufacturers within the paper industry. The press picked up on it and eight days later, on December 19, 1973, TV show host Johnny Carson stuck it in his monologue and told a live audience and close to 20 million viewers that there was a shortage of toilet paper. What he left out however, that it simply wasn’t true and it was only a possibility.
The very next day, December 20, 1973, consumers flocked to grocery stores and supermarkets in droves and hoarded rolls and rolls and rolls of toilet paper from store shelves. The hoarding continued nonstop for the next three weeks until January 11, 1974, when consumers began to see that shops were being restocked and that there was therefore no shortage.
What I have noticed though on public forums, especially on www.nextdoor.com, the many complaints of people, in particular, individuals in my area. The complaints range from too many people in grocery store aisles, open sex in public parks, restaurants not honoring special requests, residents worried about landscapers manicuring their nice suburban lawns, residents wanting to stop growth of plants and trees, people not isolating/social distancing themselves enough, photo-shaming and just general griping about the pandemic itself.
This troubles me greatly. And saddens me at the same time. I mean, we’re in the middle of a fucking pandemic and people are complaining about diminished services? Come on! It’s all a matter of manners. It’s apparent that politeness has flown directly out the window and straight into the abyss. As much as I abhor the idea of staying indoors and breathing the same air inside my airtight living space pod for as many hours, days and weeks as I have, I feel pretty darned lucky to still be alive. Quit your whining. Quit your bitching. Quit being so negative. Stay positive.
The idea of using masks and rubber gloves to me personally, has become a great social experiment, especially the days that I take walks around my neighborhood, grocery store visits and riding city buses and trains to necessary places. Only within the last day (April 3), the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in Atlanta, Georgia has revised its recommendation of mask wearing to voluntary, meaning they are most likely giving into the possible conclusion that not a lot of people are wearing masks.
The CDC has also recommended that people wear cloth facial coverings and scarves as well. Hell, bandanas work too. And locally, a lot of people make them. Three people I can think of right off the bat are: Chris Kondos Boutique, a local dressmaker at 407 Linden Avenue in Wilmette. She’s giving them away one per customer. The mask itself is made of basic white cloth and come in three sizes small, medium and large. They’re open from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday and their phone number is 847-256-0107. Be sure and call them before you get there. Way to go, Chris Kondos!
Next, my old friend and transplanted Chicago artist, Shane Bugbee, is making masks too. Per Bugbee, all of his masks “are aesthetically pleasing (to the eye) and include two layers of filtering material.” Each mask has been disinfected and bagged up individually. They are $25 PPD (which includes free shipping) The great thing is, that Bugbee will donate $10 from each sold mask to will go to other material to make masks and then given to grocery store employees! This guy is a hero in my view! A true mensch in every sense of the word, mensch. One million automatic punk points to Shane Bugbee!!! You can contact Bugbee at: email@example.com
Then there is a third person that has asked to remain anonymous, who lives in Evanston and hasn’t left her home since March 1. Her groceries she said, according to a post I read at www.nextdoor.com are being delivered to her by her sons. She prefers to just help out for the effort and wants nothing in return, even though many other community members have offered her money and food as payment, in exchange for her making masks. What a kind and generous lady. The world needs more ladies like her!
Watching President Trump over these past three weeks has been a real treat. Seeing a man pontificate on the state of a pandemic, first calling it a hoax and then deemed it as a virus that would soon be vanquished in a matter of a few weeks and then probably, I say probably lightly, realizing that this was no ordinary virus, sprung into action. For what it’s worth and more than likely, much to the chagrin to friends of mine, for the staggering amounts of criticism he’s harbored over the nearly four years he’s served as president, I’d have to say, his coordination of all events going forth, has been pretty decent, considering all that went before him.
It doesn’t make me a greater fan of his. Nor do I admire him as an individual. No sir. What I do admire is his ability to be able to move this crisis into a more manageable situation. Sure, he has handlers, assistants and others helping him out, but the bottom line is that he’s getting done what needs to be done. And that is commendable.
Having said that, he is the greatest performance artist of a president that we’ve ever had and furthermore, if you thought for a minute that the impeachment couldn’t stop him, I can almost guarantee that his lack of seriousness regarding the pandemic when it first approached the United States in January 2020 will make him a one-term president. His daily press conferences are unpredictable and if he doesn’t like a reporter’s question, he will often become belligerent and cantankerous and offer up his own opinion regarding the reporter, their question and refuse to answer it. The very idea of his boasting and bragging on how he and his administration have come in and saved the day is just sickening. Sickening.
As I stated earlier, both the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Senate have dropped the attitudes and are working together, passing bills that will help bail out the United States. And then there are those doctors and nurses and emergency workers in hospitals and medical health facilities and treatment centers-the real soldiers on the frontlines doing battle to defeat this pandemic. And then there are those therapists, social workers, case managers, and others working at mental health facilities throughout the United States, helping those who can’t cope with this sudden change in our living situation.
And there are those who are making masks (including the above mentioned) and other protection equipment to help out the battle. And then there are those everyday ordinary citizens like me, you, us and them, all stepping up to the plate, setting aside our differences in order to band together and defeat this formidable pandemic enemy, by just being ourselves.
But there is troubling news, per Forbes’ Lisette Voytko who has written, “when hospitals received the equipment they desperately need, many of them turned out to be faulty or expired. Elastic bands on N95 masks were rotting, while some masks were sized for children rather than adults.” Furthermore, “Then there's the persistent shortage of ventilators: Hospitals were having to double up patients on one machine, which could lead to "difficult decisions about ethical allocation and liability," according to Voytko.
Pretty disheartening, when anyone who has watched a Trump news conference within the last 48 hours, in which he clearly remarks that the 50 states “Were immediately meeting the needs of local facilities while the federal government continued to stockpile resources for these states.” Followed by “hospital administrators were thrilled to be where they are.” (New York Times and VOX) Pretty contradictory if you ask me.
In a light-hearted way, we’ve found ways to amuse ourselves through social media. I’ll follow up this post with a similar post in the coming days. But the good thing is, that it is bringing some families and people together on levels that is considered pretty good. I’ll go more into depth in a follow-up post.
But just imagine being born into the world during a pandemic and being named after the virus itself! And that’s exactly what happened to a couple in India, whose wife gave birth to twins a girl and a boy to be exact and named them Corona Rose and Covid Bryant (when the name is shortened it sounds like, Covi Bryant, a tributary name to the late Los Angeles Lakes basketball player Kobe Bryant, who passed in late January in a California helicopter crash). I’m always concerned when parents do that sort of naming, but that’s another opinion for another time.
This is after all what Americans do when faced with dire circumstances. We’re all in this together. United we stand, divided we fall. Teamwork will prevail. Nothing more and nothing less.
Strangely enough, when I spoke to my friend Morten Rahm in Aarhus, Denmark this past Saturday morning (April 4), he confirmed to me, what I’ve thinking about since we’ve fell into this pandemic exactly three weeks ago, that “everyday feels exactly like Sunday.”
You’re exactly right, Morten. You’re exactly right.