Every summer from age 12 to 20, I spent eight weeks at summer camp. I lived for summer as I felt I fit in better at camp than at school. Week 7 of each summer was a time for crankiness, as people rubbed each other a bit much, the routine got too routine, etc. But week 8 was a week where we put that stuff aside as we knew the summer was coming to a close, and I'd have to wait another 44 weeks to feel really alive again. So, when I realize we have been quarantining for about eight weeks, my first thoughts are of those summers, that I didn't want them to end.
Strangely enough, I don't want this quarantine to end either but for different reasons. That is, we are not ready yet. Not in Canada and definitely not in the US. The curves vary across each big country, but the basic tale is the same--not enough progress has been made in reducing the rates of transmission, in reducing the loads facing hospitals, and so on. I understand that people are tired of being stuck at home, although we have had it easy compared to the Italians and Spaniards who have really stayed put. Us? We still run out to pick up takeout, we can still take walks and bike rides, we can still mass together in front of state capitols to take incredibly dumb stances, and so on. Our freedom is hardly restricted. Well, except for those entities that want to compel people to work in dangerous circumstances.
One of my themes of the week has been the realization that the hotzones in this pandemic in North America--prisons, eldercare facilities, meatpacking plants--are precisely the places that have not and largely could not close down. Imagine if all the other places where people are close together had stayed open--universities (yes, they come
first in the mind of this professor), offices, restaurants, bars, churches, etc--the disease would have spread much farther, ultimately not just testing the hospitals and health care systems but breaking them. So, before we open things up, let's think a bit more and let's not waste the eight weeks of restraint, shall we?
On the bright side, it was a productive week for the Canadian Defence and Security Network. We produced our Briefing Note from the conference we had last week. The leadership team met to discuss how to operate as the pandemic limits the kinds of things we can do. My team in Ottawa brainstormed some ideas about what we can do to help younger scholars in this time of isolation, and we will be rolling out one initiative in the next week.
And we found yet more flour. The only thing we still can't find is yeast, but we have plenty to last us... about eight more weeks of weekly pizza. And then after that, I can still make another 20 or so weeks from ye old beer-based pizza dough.
I am less stressed about shopping and such with a helpful post I saw about how it is not just one quick whiff of microbes that gets one sick but something a bit more substantial. Which means I am not going to catch it while biking or while shopping.... even if the same findings say that it is bad for the clerks. The way I summarize it is: airports are ok, but planes are bad. Oh, and no matter how you try to do it, getting universities started back up is going to be mighty, mighty hard.
I think it would be easier to be patient in the US if the government was making decent policy. In Canada, the response has not been perfect, but the government is putting out large amounts of money and getting it quickly in the hands of the newly unemployed. I am one of the least patient people I know although, of course, it is easier for me to be patient given my job, my financial situation, my cool house and family, and the endless supply of silly stuff on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney +. The good news is that the polls in both countries show that most people are willing to wait it out a bit longer. Which means that even if the governments open things up, many stores and businesses will remain sensibly closed.
Always, the only way out is through: