Equal opportunity virus – or maybe not?

equal opportunity

Last week we learned that Boris Johnson also tested positive for the virus; adding to a growing list of notables across the globe. Tom Hanks was the first to grab my attention – that was sad. Then there was a raft of NBA basketball players – how did that happen? And a few days ago “the palace” released a statement that even Prince Charles has it – deary me! Now we’re learning of local Houston personalities like US congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher and “legendary” rapper Scarface — though I must admit I’d never heard of him before this.

Everyone’s first reaction is perverted comfort in the fact that this stealth villain can also reach the lofty echelons of society. The rich and famous are not escaping it’s tendrils. Privilege has not bought them immunity. 

It’s an equal opportunity threat.

Or is it?

Privilege may have granted them access to testing. Did they have to pass the same screening that you or I would to get tested where we live? I don’t think so.

Will fame and fortune gain them preferred access to medical treatment, if it’s needed? If decisions have to made with scarce resources as to who gets a ventilator in limited supply and who doesn’t, how will lines be drawn in this country? Based on likely health outcome, as we’ve heard in Italy, or the ability to pay, which is our typical default model? How would we choose between a young able bodied person with no insurance and the elderly frail with medicare?

There are more questions than answers right now. I have my concerns. I hope we are not tested. 

And if we are, I pray that we will be touched “by the better angels of our nature”.


Meet an “invincible summer” in Thelma Z

“In the midst of winter, I found that there was in me an invincible summer” Albert Camus

Staying calm under pressureThis is the tag line of the blog by Thelma Z, a new acquaintance from a memoir writing class I’m taking. It reads like something that might arise out of our current calamity. It speaks to me as a message for right here and right now. However, this is not a new blog or a new tagline, she’s been writing here for over 10 years. This arose from an earlier tragedy in her life.

With several more years on her clock than me, Thelma, and so many others ahead of me in age and wisdom, appear to be weathering the COVID19 threat with greater ease and calm. I’ve placed phone calls to all my 80+-year old relatives this past week and the contrast between their calm, matter-of-fact reactions and my fretful concerns is striking.

This is not their first rodeo.

With that, I’d like to invite you to visit ThelmaZ at her blog, where she has started reflecting on the current Coronavirus threat from her vantage point. Start with “The Virus is on Everybody’s Minds” from March 15th and then read how things have changed in just seven days in “Coronavirus: Part 2” from March 22nd. She tells me that she’s a regular Sunday poster — I’m already eager to read her upcoming Sunday post. Lots has changed since the 22nd, just three days ago; what will be happening by Sunday, four days from now?!

Distancing, Rumors, the Web and Who says I’m Elderly?

social distancingYesterday was another jam-packed bag of unexpected realizations, quirky revelations, bizarre rumors and wonderful contact with amazing humans … albeit mostly virtually, as this was my first day to model social distancing behavior.

Starting with the bizarre rumor from China via my Chinese neighbor. Chatting on the front lawn, as one does now – at a 6ft distance, she explained to me how “sad” she is about the tension between her and her sister back home. They have been arguing over Skype about whether the US army was responsible for originally introducing the virus into China. Her family in China is not to be persuaded otherwise. I guess we all look for scapegoats. I missed that Tweet. This one was new to me.

Then there was the article in the paper about a local yoga studio “shifting from cleaners with all-natural ingredients to full chlorine and other bacteria-killing chemicals”. I’ve always had my suspicions about these natural cleaners.  What a difference “actual” cleaners can make. That made me crack up — less surprising.

Anyone else notice the drop in email traffic? My futile whack-a-mole efforts to unsubscribe from various annoying vendors have been eclipsed by a new superpower. After the first wave of closure announcements, cancellations and COVID-19 response memorandums these irritations have gone dormant. It’s eerily quiet out there. I thought I’d be grateful, but I’m alarmed. It feels like the ship is going down. Is this a canary in the coalmine I hadn’t foreseen?

Is everyone glued to the TV, or streaming Netflix or still out hunting for more toilet paper?

I think they must be on ZOOM trying to maintain some sense of normalcy and connections. I can see from this graph of XOM vs ZOOM that I should have sold my ExxonMobil stock on January 31st and put all that money into Zoom. Who knew.

2020-03-17 - Zoom vs XOM Stock

I would have expected more action in the web-universe at large, rather than buried in conference calls. Even Facebook is less prolific than I would have expected. Sure, there are plenty of pictures of empty grocery store shelves, musings about TP and requests for the 3rd or 16th picture on your phone, plus all the usual humdrum, but that’s about it. A couple of notable exceptions are shout outs to Drs. Shannon Westin and Jason Westin who hosted a Facebook Live event last night where I learned several answers to questions that were new to me – thanks, you guys rock. And don’t miss Erin Dangler’s daily uplifting exercise class in her home – also on Facebook Live (give yesterday’s class a try).

If you’re still with me …. I know this is long – sorry.

I can’t leave this post today without mentioning the elderly. I keep hearing about the “elderly“. I know who this group is – and it’s not my group. They are more grey, more frail, more old, more in my future. We are informed that they are at higher risk for getting sick from the corona-virus, and then in turn at higher risk of dying from the virus. I think of my dad in his 80s and other dear friends already in that decade, or rapidly approaching it. I’m sad and fearful for them.

I do not think of myself, when I hear the elderly classification. I am not that old, not that frail, and … well, ok, I am that grey, I guess, but still …

So when I hear the young doctor on the radio describing these so called elderly as people 60 and over, I’m almost insulted. When did that happen to me and how did I suddenly get lumped into that group without my say-so? I’m not even on Medicare yet – at least give me that!

I’m having to face my fears on more levels that I had expected. Piling one thing on top of another. And now I find out that I’m elderly. Too much for one day.

Talk  tomorrow …