Forty-ninth Entry


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Monday, May 4th, 2020

Last night was the third night in a row that the mobile morgue’s chiller was off. Continuing south on Seventh Avenue, I realized I hadn’t seen the usual clan of rats in a few nights. They were born early in the pandemic’s grasp on the city. At first, the little creatures did not venture off the heavy iron sewer grate on the east side of 7th Ave just north of West 10th Street. 

Every time I approached, they vanished as though sucked away by a subterranean vacuum. Each night in March, clearly not long after they were born, the rats would venture a few inches farther away from the sewer grate. They always sped back to safety before I got close. Did they smell, see or hear me? Every night, without fail, I saw them. As the weeks passed, the nightly encounters made them feel like family—or at least like we were part of the same tribe, creatures of the empty nighttime streets. As they grew larger and gained experience, they explored farther from the safety of the underworld. 

The last time I saw them, they were nearly three times larger than they had been in mid-March. When I approached, they still sprinted to the grate, which was now more than twenty feet away. Miraculously their bigger bodies slipped through the grate, almost as if they were fluid. That last night, there were only two rats. Maybe the others had perished or were no longer concerned about my presence, or maybe they had moved on to greener pastures.   

The Supreme Court will humble itself  with its first remote court session. For some reason, it will not be visual, just a telephone conference call including the normal two-minute opening arguments followed by half-hour sessions of questioning. It sounds like they picked a dull trademark case and a lawyer who has appeared in courts dozens of times to get this two-week virtual session going.    

Italy is opening up after an eight-week shutdown; they were the first democratic country since World War II to impose a lockdown on the entire country. While the US is in the eighth week of a more moderate shutdown, there are some universals. For example, wine shops did not close in Italy – just as liquor stores did not close in the USA. I heard that people in Italy lined up for their turn to buy wine. Another lesson in what is essential – marijuana remained available in the Netherlands throughout their lockdown.   

The infection and death rate in the US continues to increase as more states open. This week, the President increased his projections of American Covid-related deaths. Last week he said 60-70 thousand, now it is 80-100 thousand. His forum was a Fox News Town Hall.  

The term “second wave” is now used daily. 

A person on the street commented, “If everyone is going to get it, I would rather not be bankrupt when that happens.” The range of views and responses to the crisis is expanding as fast as the virus is spreading. At first, people turned to experts—people experienced with infectious diseases, lung problems, and ventilators. But before long, there were endless experts, magically all saying nearly the same thing. Aren’t there always two sides?

Covid has already killed more Americans than during the entire Vietnam War. There is less public discussion about the disease and possible treatments than there was about that war.