Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Even more thoughts on COVID

It's about time for another COVID rant, right? I feel like it's about time for another COVID rant.

Today we broke another world record with 71,670 new cases (997 new deaths). A few weeks ago Dr. Fauci suggested that the United States could see 100,000 cases per day, which seemed like an astronomical overestimation, an impossibility. Suddenly, however, hitting 100,000 cases per day seems like a very real possibility.

Georgia didn't break any personal bests today, but with 3,871 new cases and 37 new deaths, we're not exactly in great shape. Hospitals are rapidly filling up. Both hospitals in Athens are full and have begun diverting patients. Other hospitals in the state (and particularly in our area) are dangerously close to reaching their maximum care capacity.

Our Young Women group had an in-person activity yesterday, anyway—"appropriately" socially-distanced, outside, with masks optional. Rachel did not attend.

We also have a plan for returning to church: our ward will get one Sunday per month to meet and we will split into two groups (one group for those 50+ and one group for those 49 and younger). We're slated to meet for the first time next month—August 16th. It is optional; those who want to stay home (like, for example, us) still can. Also, "we will need our cleaning supplies, that we still do not have, and the weekly average of Covid infections needs to decrease for 2 weeks in a row," which seems like a rather difficult statistic to achieve.

Weekends always seem to have a lag in case reporting, so it's not like we have a smooth curve to work with; case numbers always dip on the weekends and rise during the weekdays. Our charts look like the spikes of a stegosaurus. But already they were counting cases as having "gone down" for two days. The email was sent out on July 12 and we just hit our state record for the highest number of cases recorded on July 10, with 4484 cases, and then we "went down" from there, only to quickly jump back up again after the weekend.

Friday, July 10: 4484 (+)
Saturday, July 11: 3190 (-)
Sunday, July 12: 2525 (-)
Monday, July 13: 3643 (+)
Tuesday, July 14: 3394 (-)
Wednesday, July 15: 3871 (+)

So, does the clock restart every time the case number appears to go up? That can make for a very long road to recovery. (It makes me think of Benjamin in the NICU when he had to go 24 hours (or 48 hours?) without an "ABC" episode (apnea/bradycardia) and the poor guy just could not do it. And our clock just kept on restarting. It was very demoralizing.) I wonder if it might be better to focus on whether numbers are trending upwards or downwards than to "start a clock" if numbers are lower one day because clearly the numbers are trending upwards right now.

I mean, I guess people can count the days of "dipping" if they want to, but it's only going to give them false hope. We're...kind of a mess down here.

Oh, so I said that Georgia didn't break any personal bests today but that's not quite true because we've actually reached a record for the largest number of hospitalizations (which, I suppose, explains why our hospitals are reporting that they've reached capacity).

The border closures—specifically the border between Canada and the US—have me feeling all uneasy. I understand why they are closed and, actually, support the decision to close them. This virus has been severely mishandled down here, but I almost feel hypocritical with how I react to stories about the border. On the one hand, there have been cases of American "sneaking" into Canada (under the guise of "essential travel" to Alaska) and vacationing around, which I find to be a very irresponsible decision and reading about it made me feel a little angry. On the other hand, a friend posted pictures of their cousin's wedding, held on the border so that family on both sides of the border could attend. It was just out in the middle of a field, with a barbed wire fence between the sides of the family. The bride's father walked her down the "aisle," holding her hand over the fence; she also hugged her mother through the fence.

My family was excited about such an event. It seemed like a sweet way to get married with family present, despite travel bans and so forth. Not many people were present for the wedding (it seemed, from the pictures) and they claimed to have gotten permission from border patrol. It honestly looked like a fairly innocuous gathering...if I were into gathering at all—just a few people (family), outside, (mostly) keeping their distance.

My siblings haven't all been together in several years (about twenty, honestly). My eldest sisters do not have dual citizenship and due to some tricky immigration reasons, one sister cannot leave Canada and another cannot enter Canada. So that plays a pretty big part in keeping our family separated by the border. When I showed my mom the picture she said, "Wow! Find out where that is! We could hold a family reunion there!" So I asked...and now there's this whole thread about how horrid it was of the couple to do this, with some surly Canadians tagging the RCMP to investigate the matter because of the risk of spreading the virus across the border.

Obviously this person has never been separated from his family by an international border and/or thousands of miles. It's not an easy thing. And this was rather a sweet moment, and so obviously not a super-spreader event. Cut them some slack.

So how can I feel that way about a wedding ceremony held across an international border and feel so incensed by our YW meeting in-person (outside, and distanced)?

Okay, so on the one hand the event is a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime moment and on the other hand it's just an we're-so-over-this weekly occurrence. Perhaps that is affecting my view of these events.

Another reason could be that "[my] mind [isn't equipped for this kind of reopening." According to Wilkinson-Ryan, "Individuals are being asked to decide for themselves what chances they should take, but a century of research on human cognition shows that people are bad at assessing risk in complex situations. During a disease outbreak, vague guidance and ambivalent behavioral norms will lead to thoroughly flawed thinking." We are missing out on good leadership; this is too much of a mental load for each citizen to be requested to take on. So my opinion fluctuating wildly on the matter is really just another symptom of the disease (and whether we're talking about the government or the virus will remain ambiguous).

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