I slept very badly last night, once again, and when I tested my blood sugar first thing this morning, it had been low, so I fixed myself some oatmeal with sugar and cinnamon, and made a pot of coffee. Yesterday and today I have been feeling vaguely unwell, with an upset stomach, and I actually Googled “COVID-19 gastrointestinal” to see if that was a symptom of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (yes, in some people).
Last Friday, while I was pulling a stack of vintage cranberry Corning ware pots from a top shelf of my kitchen cupboards, I dropped one and it shattered into a million tiny pieces. In the process of trying to sweep up the mess, I cut one of my toes on a sharp shard and tracked blood all over the carpeting in my apartment. I then spent an hour scrubbing away at bloodstains on my carpet with Dove liquid detergent, leaving blue stains where before I had had red ones.
I am in a resolutely foul and cranky mood. (Yes, I should know better than to blog when I am feeling this way, but I am feeling depressed and isolated, and I need to use this blog to vent.)
It is now Day 240 since I first began working from home in self-isolation in my apartment for my university library system (March 16th, 2020).
Or, if you want to count it another way, 292 days since January 24th, 2020*, when I wrote my first blogpost† which mentioned what I then called “the Wuhan coronavirus”, where I said:
Throughout my life, I have had a somewhat lamentable tendency to go off on weird tangents.
And, back around 2006, my tangent was bird flu. I became obsessed with following and discussing the latest information about the H5N1 avian flu virus with other flu preppers (a.k.a. “flubies”), which for a time looked as though it would develop into a global pandemic. (I just checked, and I still remember my username and password from the FluTrackers.com discussion forum!)
Me and my fellow flubies were constantly worrying, analyzing, and obsessing over the latest case data and news reports. So, in an effort to inject some levity into what was a grave and potentially life-threatening situation, I began using my rudimentary Photoshop skills to create funny pictures to share with my fellow flubies.
Among those funny images I created about the H5N1 flu scare was the following (fictitious) government program:
Well, I am not laughing anymore. (And I no, I am no longer using my rudimentary PhotoShop skills to create funny images anymore. In fact, I recently cancelled my very expensive monthly subscription to PhotoShop and other Adobe products.)
I am feeling absolutely F.U.C.Q.E.D.: isolated, depressed, anxious, irritable, worrying about my friends and family, and wondering when this will all end, and our lives will go back to some semblance of normalcy.
And I am quite sure that many of you, reading this blogpost, are feeling much the same way, right about now. We are already seeing a tsunami of mental health issues affecting millions of people worldwide, who are beleaguered and bereft of hope.
What can I say that you don’t already know? Anybody can open their newsfeeds and spend hours doomscrolling the litany of bad news: spikes in COVID-19 infections all around the world, even here in Canada. The situation south of the border, in the United States, has never been more grave. Even worse, the next two-and-a-half months are *the* worst possible time for a lack of leadership in the United States, as the Trump administration focuses on spreading baseless claims of voter fraud, instead of dealing with the ongoing public health crisis. STAT reports:
From a public health standpoint, the presidential election could not have come at a worse time. Health officials have long warned of a devastating winter, and case totals and deaths have spiked just as millions of Americans are set to congregate with their families over the holidays. President Trump’s persistent downplaying of the crisis, experts say, will continue to have deadly consequences — and as a result, leave Biden to inherit a country experiencing its worst Covid-19 crisis since the first recorded U.S. cases in late January.
“So many of us are worried that now that Biden has won, the Trump administration is going to take a scorched-earth approach,” said Saskia Popescu, a University of Arizona epidemiology professor and biodefense expert. “It’s going to be very, very scary.”
And yet, many people are still downplaying, sidestepping, and belittling this crisis. Refusing to practice social distancing, stay home, or wear facemasks. Or subscribing to crazy conspiracy theories, many spread much more easily by social networks such as Facebook, either ignorantly or deliberately. All of us—but all levels of government, especially—must keep fighting to counteract this toxic cesspool of misinformation, rumours, and disinformation.
But it’s so hard to fight back when you’re feeling so beaten down.
One bright spot of hope is that one of the very first vaccine trial results (by Pfizer) seems to be 90% effective. But experts warn that there is still a long road ahead:
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer says early results from its coronavirus vaccine trial suggest a 90 per cent efficacy rate at preventing COVID-19, a number that has Canadian infectious disease experts cautiously optimistic that a viable shot can be rolled out by spring of 2021.
Jean-Paul Soucy, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, called Pfizer’s announcement “fantastic news (and) very encouraging,” but there are still questions to be answered.
And there are many steps between a vaccine’s approval and its actual rollout.
The only thing we know for certain is that Pfizer, and many multinational pharmaceutical corporations are going to get very, very rich.
God, I am so fucking tired of this shitshow.
UPDATE 11:43 a.m.: Minutes after I had published this blogpost, Manitoba announced that it was imposing an emergency, code-red lockdown on the entire province:
Widespread shutdowns are coming as Manitoba’s premier and top doctor order the entire province into the red, or critical, level of the provincial pandemic response plan.
Among the “short, sharp set of restrictions” is a ban on social gatherings of any kind starting Thursday that could last into December. Social contact must be reduced to members of your household only.
Brian Pallister made the announcement Tuesday morning alongside Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin.
Non-essential retail stores, gyms, movie theatres, salons and churches will close. All recreational facilities and sports activities will be shut down, said Roussin, but schools and child-care centres will remain open.
Here’s a summary of all the latest changes:
- Social contacts reduced to your household only. Social gatherings are not permitted.
- Travel to and from northern Manitoba is restricted and non-essential travel is discouraged.
- Retail businesses listed as critical services, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, can remain open at 25 per cent capacity.
- Retail businesses not on the list are able to provide e-service, curbside pickup or delivery services.
- All personal service businesses, including hair salons, barbers and sites offering manicures, pedicures and other esthetic services, must close.
- Gyms and fitness centres must close.
- Religious and cultural gatherings must close or be provided virtually only.
- Restaurants must close to the public and may be open for delivery, drive-thru or takeout only.
- All recreational activities, sports facilities, casinos, museums, galleries, libraries, movie theatres and concert halls must close.
Well, it’s official. We are all well and truly F.U.C.Q.E.D…
* Yes, I suspected strongly that we were going to have a pandemic on our hands, as far back as January 24th, 2020, based on my previous experience with Flu Trackers discussion group. Several people have since thanked me for using this blog to alert them to the possible danger, but I feel absolutely zero sense of pride over being among one of the first to predict a pandemic. On the very same day, I had also made a $50 bet with my best friend John that we were going to have a pandemic (which, of course, I won, although ironically, he wasn’t able to actually pay me until many months later because of the spring pandemic lockdown here in Manitoba).
† I cannot stress this any more strongly:
ALL OF THE IMAGES IN THIS BLOGPOST WERE CREATED FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, ABOUT THE H5N1 BIRD FLU SCARE WHICH TURNED OUT NOT TO BE A PANDEMIC. Absolutely NONE of these images pertain to the current Wuhan coronavirus / 2019-nCoV / SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 situation.
As of today, over 50 million people around the world have been infected with COVID-19, and over 1,200,000 have died. And yet there are still people out there who have chosen to belittle the most serious public health crisis in over a century. The current situation is absolutely nothing to laugh at!