It’s been more than two months since I posted here. The last time was March 1st, during one of the last weekends of my old normal (yours too, probably). Back then my wife and I typically spent several hours or more of our Saturdays at a lovely neighborhood coffee shop, where we’d eat and drink and peruse the Internet. I’d have a scone and an iced latte (which my barista knew was a double with extra ice). Erica would do her thing on her laptop and I’d do mine and we’d chat about whatever interesting thing we’d found online or observed in the cafe. She’d sometimes work on her sermon and I might work on my blog or editing pictures and posting online or whatever. Sometimes I’d go back to that coffee shop or another on Sunday and do more of the same. And sometimes one of these brilliant blog posts would be the result.
Those were the days.
During January and February I had become increasingly aware of the worldwide spread of a “novel coronavirus” from China, but like most other Americans, I was much more focused on what would happen with the impeachment of Donald Trump and which Democrat would emerge to challenge for the presidency next autumn. I was doing all the stuff that was part and parcel of my old normal.
Late in February I noticed an article in The New York Times entitled “Pence Will Control All Coronavirus Messaging From Health Officials” with the subhead “The White House’s attempt to impose a more disciplined approach to communications about the virus was undermined by President Trump, who complained the news media was overstating the threat.” I shared the article on Facebook:
Reading that the White House was attempting to control what its own health officials were saying about the coronavirus while simultaneously downplaying the threat it posed convinced me that this situation was almost certainly very serious. Little did we know.
Yesterday The Washington Post published an article entitled “As the coronavirus spreads, U.S. military attempts to secure ‘no-fail’ missions”. The article starts with the words “In late February” and reports about the government’s efforts to use the Cheyenne Mountain facility to sequester a team “to ensure that covid-19 can’t cripple NORAD’s command center, responsible for preventing the United States and Canada from coming under attack from foreign missiles or other aerial threats.”
Holy smokes. You think the administration had figured out that this was a big effin’ deal?
What we don’t actually know, as usual, is what Trump knew and when he knew it. There has been some reporting about what the U.S. intelligence community was observing and analyzing very early during the outbreak in China. And there have been reports about information being sent up the chain late in 2019 and during January and February of 2020. How far up the chain? Did the information make it into the President’s Daily Brief? Did Trump actually see it or read about it? Did he act on it?
These are all important questions, and ones that deserve answers. I hope that someday this truth comes out. It almost always does, someday.
When did you realize that the coronavirus was going to change the world as we knew it? For me it happened late in the evening on Wednesday, March 11th. That’s when the NBA called off a regular season basketball game just prior to tip-off because a player had tested positive for COVID-19. A lot of businesses say that their people are their greatest assets. Professional sports franchises probably mean it, at least when their players are at risk for catching a potentially disabling or lethal disease from another player. The NBA would soon suspend its season.
The president gave a weird, semi-breathless televised address. The WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. Trump cancelled a fundraising trip “out of an abundance of caution” — a phrase that would soon become as tiresome as “thoughts and prayers”.
Wait, Trump cancelled a fundraiser? Holy crap, this IS serious.
A college basketball tournament being played in my Midwestern hometown announced first that attendance would be restricted, then on the following day that the tourney was cancelled. Within about 48 hours virtually everybody who’d come to town for the tournament was gone.
I think it may have been that Thursday night when my wife and I went out for dinner at a favorite local restaurant, which I suggested “while we still can.”
The following week we got the guidance to limit social gatherings to no more than ten people and governors started making emergency proclamations restricting all sorts of activities.
My employer decided to keep the business running with minimal staff, of which I am one, mainly because most people aren’t trained to do my job and don’t like the schedule.
My wife remains employed also, working almost entirely from home and doing everything electronically. We’ve pressed some older gear into service and our dining room is her workspace and virtual pulpit.
It’s a very weird world, for all of us.
Facebook is where I’ve been re-sharing news and opinion pieces, comments, status updates, and the occasional image. Somehow I just couldn’t bring myself to type much more than a paragraph or two in nearly ten weeks.
But Facebook is as crazy as it’s ever been. No, it’s crazier than ever, and that’s one of the things I hope to revisit in the blog. I want to talk about some of the stuff that’s happened around here. And we have a lot of catching up to do where presidential politics are concerned — plenty of weirdness there.
We’re alive and well and socially distanced in middle America.