Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
If I were a normal person with a normal job, I'd call in sick. But where's the fun in that?
The COVID-19 pandemic began officially on March 11, 2020 according to the World Health Organization. And while hundreds of millions of people have had confirmed cases since then, there's a small subset of people who for reasons they can't explain just never got it—even despite being around family members and coworkers who had tested positive.
I was a member of that group until yesterday! I made it 916 days!
But as you might have gathered: Yep, I started feeling sick Monday evening, and I tested positive yesterday morning.
I'm sure I'll be OK. I have a great doctor, and I'm following her advice. Unfortunately, however, I don't have the no-symptom variety. It's like having the flu so far, and the main thing is that I'm exhausted. I think I slept 18 hours yesterday.
Anyway, if I were a normal person who had a normal job and did normal things I would call out sick today. But, what fun would there be in that?
So, we're going to have to do a couple of days worth of "low power mode" again.
I had an idea, which was to go back to the official start of the pandemic and see what I had written that day. It turns out that the March 11, 2020 entry was really good but had nothing to do with COVID; instead it’s about a long interview I did with Sandra Boynton, the children's book author.
Story/Newsletter about Sandra Boynton (originally published March 11, 2020).
Get me the rewrite
(originally published March 12, 2020):
I’m having a hard time keeping up with the coronavirus story over the last day or two, and I suspect you might be too.
But it’s clear this is very serious. I’m not going to criticize anyone who takes an extreme step now to try to stave off an existential threat. I’d rather we all look silly later than not do enough.
A few developments from the last 12 hours or so alone:
The president addressed the nation from the Oval Office, and announced travel restrictions from Europe (except the UK) and some health insurance agreements, among other things. However, there was some intense confusion about the details afterward.
Clarifications afterward seemed to suggest that the travel restriction applied only to people, not goods (via the president’s tweet), that the “people” applied mainly to foreign nationals (DHS statement), and that insurance copays would be waived for coronavirus testing (not “for coronavirus treatments,” as the speech read.)
Other stuff: The State Department advises Americans just “reconsider travel abroad” in general.
The NBA announced it’s suspending its season. A player for the Utah Jazz tested positive, and the entire teams of the Jazz and Oklahoma Thunder (who they were playing) are reportedly in quarantine.
The NCAA announced that the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be played with no fans attending. There’s pressure on the NHL to suspend, too, and baseball’s Opening Day on March 26 is in jeopardy.
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced that they’ve tested positive.
Italy is almost 100 percent shut down now—no stores open except for food markets and pharmacies. El Salvador is quarantining the entire country, although it has no confirmed cases yet.
The big New York-based TV shows—examples: The View, The Tamron Hall Show, Late Night and The Late Show—will keep broadcasting but stop hosting audiences.
No St. Patrick’s Day parades in New York, Chicago, and probably wherever you live.
Testing is in crisis. The U.S. is testing about 1,000 to 2,000 people a day. South Korea, as I wrote about recently, has 1/6 our population but was testing 10,000 people a day.
From Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu: "We love to embrace. We love to shake hands. We love to kiss. No more. ... If there is no need for conferences or events, do not hold them and do not go to them. I am saying this as clearly as possible. We are in a global pandemic."
23 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia have declared “states of emergency” that let them take drastic action, like banning large groups from getting together.
And this was a bit earlier but I have to mention: the Council on Foreign Relations canceled a conference on the coronavirus because of the coronavirus (Bloomberg on this one, so $).
Write stuff down
Besides washing your hands, and taking steps to avoid spreading the disease—for the benefit of higher risk people, if you’re in the lower risk pool—I have another suggestion.
Actually, I didn’t come up with it. Credit for that goes to Kelsey Proud of WAMU radio in Washington. But it’s simply this: Take notes. Write down what’s going on in your life right now.
As she puts it, “We’re all going to be asked about this someday. We’re all going to share stories about what this was like.”
I’m thinking of a friend of mine—more my wife’s friend, but he’s mine now, too—who was in the World Trade Center on 9/11.
He escaped, but it was harrowing, and a day or so later he wrote down everything he could remember. Now it’s something worth having.