11 Days Down and How Many More to Go?
Three cheers for living out in the boonies, on a short street, not even a village. I have more chances of running into a tractor (literally) than another person if I go out for a walk. And I don’t even have to do that to spend time outside, since we have a fairly good sized yard in desperate need of tending and ready to explode with growth now that it’s spring and the days are getting longer (although not yet much warmer).
So, yeah, two trips to the grocery store aside, is has been 11 days since I mingled with other human beings, during my once every half a year or so trip into town to see a movie. I can’t imagine doing this in an apartment (even one with a balcony), much less keep it up, off an on, for the greater part of year (which is the current estimate for what it will take for COVID-19 to die down). OK, I don’t have to do this. I’m not in the age bracket with the ~40% mortality rate from COVID-19 infections, but I strongly suspect I’ll have a severe case needing hospitalization and there is no way I want that to happen during a peak in a wave that has the hospitals overwhelmed. Although at least I finally have a goal for my fast looming 50th birthday: not to spend it being ventilated.
Despite our instincts to the contrary, earlier this week (or maybe it was even late last week), we’d invited a nearly 80-year old friend over for dinner. That was supposed to happen yesterday. But he has not spent the last 11 days socially distancing himself. No, he’s been going out for lunch or dinner in restaurants every day, going to a restaurant for coffee every afternoon, and visiting people left, right, and center, because he’s a very social guy. (OK, he’s a couple of years too old to be a baby boomer, but it is exactly like this article in the New Yorker.) So, yesterday afternoon, Spouse, who does not want my heart getting re-inflamed and failing again, gently retracted the invitation.
As a consolation prize, he later drove over a heaping portion of the bolognese sauce that I’d already cooked and, because I thought pre-cooked spaghetti would be a disgusting mess, enough uncooked pasta to eat with it. Our friend is hard of hearing so, although he was home at the time that Spouse dropped by, he didn’t hear Spouse ring the bell. So Spouse left the food on his porch.
We received a phone call a few minutes later: how does one cook spaghetti noodles?
I think my jaw hit the floor. How can it be that someone who is nearly 80 and has lived alone for almost every last minute of his adult life not know how to cook pasta noodles? Spouse had to walk him three time through every step. Bring salted water to a boil. Ease in the noodles. Cook for 11 minutes. Remove when al dente.
I hope he at least has a pot! (Although he has in the past confided in us that he’s an expert at making lentil soup as good as what his grandmother used to make: open the can, pour in a pot, add a shake of vinegar, heat it up. He may have also said something about eating it straight from the pot, but that just might be my mortified mind playing tricks on me.)
Anyway, it seems clear that an actual stay-at-home order will be coming from the German federal gov’t within the next 48 hours or so. It’s sad that things have to get bad (more than 20,000 cases and hospitals edging towards being overwhelmed) before people will accept such a thing from the gov’t. Numbers of cases would already be going down if we’d all tucked ourselves into our homes ten days ago already.
That’s how I read it anyway. If it takes 5-24 days to show symptoms and some days after that to get sick enough to be hospitalized or die, then the people catching the virus today will show up in the count roughly ten days later. So it will take at least 10 days from the social distancing measures to show any effect and longer than that for them to make a dent in the number of people needing to be hospitalized or dying per day.
Anyway, anyway, my elderly parents, who live thousands of miles away from me, have figured out how to order groceries online (phew!). And spouse’s parents, who live a few hundred miles away, phoned last night to say that a niece and a nephew (who, like us, are also about 50 years old) have stepped up to do their grocery shopping. So that’s good, because Spouse’s dad has diabetes on top of being in an age bracket with a scary high mortality rate.