Proof that the entire world can change in just a few weeks. Not necessarily for the better, of course, but they tell us that 'social distancing' is working, and we have to believe that, even though a month ago we had never heard of that term.
How long we have dealt with the coronavirus crisis depends on where you are on Earth, and your measuring stick. The virus is called Covid-19 because it was discovered last year, 2019. In January it was almost exclusively in China, and then moved to Italy. Fast forwarding into mid-February, there were cases in the United States, and it was getting mentions on the nightly news. A week or so later, sports leagues were talking about playing games without fans, just in case. Then it happened.
On the night of March 11 (33 days ago), it was learned that Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for coronavirus. Sports stopped. The next day, we were told that groups of 250 people or more were being prohibited, meaning cancellations of concerts, weddings, and other public events. A day after that, the 250 number was reduced to about 25, then ten, as long as people stayed six feet apart. Schools and libraries announced they were closing, that 'social distancing' term was being used for the first time, and, by the way, it would still be another week before the governor would tell us to 'shelter in place.'
That's right, it was March 19 when that order came down in California, just 25 days ago (we say 'just' because it seems longer than three-and-a-half weeks). That's when the restaurants closed, amusement parks shut down, and normally bustling downtowns look like a scene from a western, with only tumbleweeds blowing down the street. Literally hundreds of thousands of people were without jobs, with the idea that hundreds of thousands of people wouldn't be dying.
We pause a moment to remember why we are doing this. As of this writing, there have been 24,382 coronavirus cases in California with 732 deaths. There have been 586,057 cases in the United States with 23,604 deaths, and worldwide, 1,919,913 cases with 119,666 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The predictions were actually a lot higher. We're told social distancing is working, and we have to believe them. We're also told that the United States could have been better prepared, and there's no reason not to believe that as well. All of those cases haven't happened in the last three weeks, but the idea of staying at home is to flatten the curve.
Meanwhile, people's lives continue. Just in the past week we're being asked to wear masks when we go out. Businesses that are open are doing their due diligence, and spacing people six feet apart. Schools are practicing 'distance learning', but any parent will tell you that just means 'home schooled'. Those who weren't laid off or furloughed are working from home. Even the biggest technophobes are learning how to use Zoom. Virtual has become reality. Just days ago, 'virtually' meant with an avatar or hologram or something. Now it just means you are on your computer at home instead of in the office.
We're told it's temporary, but when we're reminded that it's only been about a month, we can't believe it. What things are going to be like a month from now is hard to say. Heck, the way things are going, it's impossible to predict what's going to happen next week. We'll either be sheltering in place more, wearing hospital gowns instead of masks, or maybe we'll be getting ready to go back to work. In addition to doctors and nurses, who would of thought that our heroes these days would be grocery store workers?
When things get back to whatever normal is going to be, what are you going to do to celebrate? Ball games will be played again, movies will be shown again, reservations will be taken at your favorite restaurant again, and maybe the convenience stores will take down those plexi-glass sneeze guards. I know where I'm going when things open up again. I need a haircut.
It's all about the schedule: You have to think that Major League Baseball is going to have a season at some point, but it's starting to look like it could be the shortest season on record. In the strike-halted season of 1994, teams played about 115 games before the August walkout and the cancellation of the playoffs and World Series. In 1981, players walked away for 50 days from June 12 to August 10, resulting in a split-season. Two teams (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) got in only 102 games that year, with others getting about 105. A 100-game season for 2020 is going to be difficult to achieve if the season doesn't get underway until June.
They tried: Having been idled for a few weeks, NBC tried the Saturday Night Live: Home Edition this weekend. It was terrible. The 'host' was Tom Hanks, who is back in the US now after contracting coronavirus in Australia. All of the sketches, including a Hanks monologue, were shot-at-home videos, or group sketches done by Zoom or Skype. The 'Weekend Update' segment did have a teleconferenced-in audience, but their laughter was just broken-up audio that was louder than the attempted jokes. We did appreciate the effort, but will look forward instead to the cast being back in studio when all of this is over.
Losing my religion: Expecting my movie to be shown last night, or perhaps even Saturday, I was surprised that ABC did not air The Ten Commandments, which, to my memory, has been shown on Easter Sunday for years. Google tells me it aired last week, on April 4. The 1956 Cecil B. DeMille classic has nothing to do with Easter, of course. It's the story of Passover, which began April 8 this year. I'm not very religious, but I love that movie, and it has become a somewhat religious ritual for me to watch it every year, at least in parts (the parting of the Red Sea, and the final plague are my favorite scenes—great 1956 special effects). I've seen it dozens of times. Alas, I guess I can wait another year.
Today would have been by mom's 94th birthday. In a weird way, I'm glad I don't have to worry about her during all of this, but I'd still rather have her here, of course. I wasn't even allowed to go to the cemetery today because of coronavirus restrictions, but I still scheduled her grave marker to be placed. It's been long enough. I have no idea if it was done today or not. I hope I can see it on Mother's Day.