Saturday, March 14, 2020

Junk mail in the time of COVID-19

My only mail today, ironically, was this "Air Gram" addressed to Mom. She died three years ago, but I'm still getting mail addressed to her from cruise companies almost every week. Until very recently, it was fun to browse through them and imagine trips down the Rhine or to other intriguing locations. Now, of course, the cruise advertisements are a bit sad and jarring.1 The world has changed.

We have our extra cat food, extra cans of soup, many blocks of Cabot cheese and, yes, extra toilet paper. All of the adults at our house will be working from home for the foreseeable future. Social distancing and community spread are new phrases that dominate our daily conversations and will enter future history books. Our generation is dealing with a pandemic, as our ancestors did a century ago with the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Here are a few screenshots, preserved for posterity, about how crazy the past five days have been.

1. In fact, The Washington Post reported this today: "By the time Egyptian health authorities learned about the coronavirus case on the Nile cruise ship, the infections had spread around the world. As long ago as late January, a Taiwanese American passenger on the MS Asara was carrying the novel coronavirus, health officials said. But the vessel would make at least four more cruises, and at least 12 crew members would turn out to be infected. ... Hundreds of foreign passengers, including dozens of Americans, and Egyptians were potentially exposed to the virus between mid-February and early March — a dramatic illustration of how, from a single, overlooked infection, the novel coronavirus could swiftly multiply and be carried across the globe. At least six Americans infected aboard the Asara returned to Maryland, according to Gov. Larry Hogan, potentially seeding their communities with the virus. Twelve others have reportedly tested positive in the Houston area."

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