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Kings of Plenty

What a weekend. My fears have been panning out. Despite dire warnings from Italy — the country with the world’s second-worst COVID-19 outbreak imploring the rest of the world not to make the same mistakes — not enough Americans have been taking this seriously. Bars and restaurants were still packed nationwide, with idiots celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. The myths of American exceptionalism strike again. Individualism is the enemy of public health. While some idiots carry on with life as usual, there have been opportunists intentionally hoarding critical supplies in order to exploit those in need be engaging in price gouging. Scum of the earth. Store shelves may seem empty but we are still a nation of great abundance.

There Is Plenty of Food in the Country

Americans have been alarmed by empty grocery shelves, but while food suppliers and retailers say they are struggling with surging demand, they insist the supply chain remains strong.

It has been too slow to happen, but state by state leadership is shutting down schools and, in some areas, public gathering places. The CDC is recommending against groups of 50 or more gathering for the next eight weeks. Restaurants are still open in Minnesota for now (hopefully that will change soon). But my son and I have been staying home since Friday. Thankfully, I can work remotely for my day job. My teaching gig at the college is up in the air, as is the remainder of my son’s academic year. I’m not so worried about myself but I am grieving a bit for my kid. He has faced u unique challenges as a young adult with autism. It’s been harder for him to find employment and to maintain friendships. In the last few months, he had just established a social circle and started his first job in January. Now that’s all on hold. I also worry about so many workers who don’t have a safety net. People who make a living from coming into close contact with others in restaurants, beauty salons, music venues, etc. This is just shining a spotlight on how needlessly precarious life is for so many, and how arbitrary a lot of it is. We need massive political change now more than ever. With safeguards like universal healthcare and a basic universal income.

The more hopeful side of things:

It’s fascinating to see how so much is moving online so quickly. Some of which had only had bare-bones pilot projects before now. Like online learning for students of all ages, first-time remote workers, online book clubs and music lessons, online therapy (of course), and groups of friends trying to zoom to socialize. I only hope our infrastructure can scale up to handle the increased traffic. I’ve been going lower tech myself, reading and cooking and cleaning and working on jigsaw puzzles. But I’ll want some sort of human interaction eventually. Ashley Fairbanks put together some great guidelines about how not to freak out during this crisis. And, I will reiterate, please stay the fuck home to help halt the spread of this pandemic.

Home work station

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