Ups and Downs

city mkt parking lot 0320
The City Market parking lot: this is what a transmission vector looks like.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could talk about something other than coronavirus? (Allow me to direct you to my musings on whale ear wax — perhaps you should be careful what you wish for.) Well, I just can’t be that nice today.

Here is the most important thing you should know: the wise folks at the Animal Planet television network, lord love ’em, are airing a marathon of Too Cute!  — a program filled with puppies and kittens. As pets always do, this show gives so much while demanding so little of you. “Keep calm and kitty on,” as they advised in one episode last night.

At our personal animal planet, Marrakesh has spent the morning in much closer proximity to the rest of us than usual, and he even let me pick him up and hold him for far longer than the five seconds he normally tolerates.

In the meantime, I’m following the news, locally and internationally, and one moment I think we’re taking a step forward and the next it seems like we’re going two steps back. So much of it is out of anyone’s control. For people who like to be in charge, that’s a maddening place to be.

Yesterday Kara and I determined that our fewer than 10 employees can all be at work at the same time, assuming any of them get healthy. We’ve even taken in a few orders this week, and some people with orders already in production still want to move forward. (Although it’s astounding how many of our customers whose events were cancelled didn’t bother to let us know. It’s so much easier to re-purpose a t-shirt before it gets printed on, and far less expensive for them.)

Then this morning brought the news that California is shutting down, all “non-essential” people told to stay home. Never mind hearing you’re “non-essential,” this would mean that we could not operate our business, because there’s no way to make it tele-work. Colorado’s not at shut-down. Yet. Where goes California, so goes the rest of the country, often enough to make that a saying.

Probably just as we get staff back to work, we’ll end up completely shut down.

CBS was a whipsaw of good/bad this morning. Dr. Tara Narula said people with the virus should produce antibodies, although there”s not enough data to know if that will last a short time, like a year, or longer. But since we have no idea what really felled James and Fortino, we have no idea if they might be immune going forward.

(And while everyone keeps insisting as long as you don’t have a fever you’re fine, I would like to point out that of the 353 people reporting symptoms to Gunnison County, only half have had fevers. Headaches and coughs are the biggies, but still only experienced by 70 percent of patients.)

Then there was the story from Italy, where one of its state-of-the-art hospitals has been completely overrun by virus patients, and nowhere near the personnel nor equipment to help them. The bodies in Milan are piling up so fast that the army is trucking them elsewhere. Italy, with a fraction of China’s population, now leads the world in number of deaths.

After which Gayle King said, “And we appear to be on Italy’s trajectory.” Nothing like relying on Gayle to cheer me up.

The usually equable Dr. David Agus sounded irritated today, because it appears that an in-use drug (something with quine in the name, taken daily by Lynn) may offer effective treatment. Normally very cautious, he is ready to start giving it to people right now, but someone — the FDA, I suppose — is insisting on clinical trials. He is further irritated about the lag time between swabbing and test results, a delay of several days in which you might have to wait to administer medication.

Without any help from CBS at all, it occurred to me this morning that Gunnison could see an uptick in cases next week, as everyone who insisted on their right to spring break comes back from points all around the country, if not globe. It turns out that half the hospitalizations around the country are for that “less vulnerable” population under 60, so not so invincible after all.

And since the Gunnison County is being so spectacularly inconsistent in regard to businesses, there are plenty of places to run into these vacationers’ germs. I did have my chiropractic appointment yesterday, and the massage therapist who works out of the office was also there. She said, “You can’t get your hair cut, but you can get a massage.”

I would like to say that I understand county officials have been going without a lot of sleep, and are working many, many hours with the safety of our citizens foremost in their minds.

But this was the response I got back from my query as to why they wouldn’t limit traffic in all businesses: All entities in the County are asked to take steps to mitigate risk including reducing contact for all at-risk individuals, social distancing by limiting contact of people within 6 feet for 10 minutes, daily coronavirus screening, proper hand hygiene and sanitation and environmental cleaning guidelines.

Those not required to take these steps, though, aren’t always. The Postal Service doesn’t appear to have been given guidance from anywhere, not the county nor its higher-ups, and when I went yesterday to pick up the mail for Pat’s, there was a sign recommending six feet of distance in a building where the door isn’t even six feet from the counter. Loretta, who got me my mail, wasn’t wearing gloves or any sort of protection. Maybe there were sanitizing options on the counter — I didn’t look.

In the meantime, my bank has converted an office into a walk-up window, with plexiglass between me and the teller, at least some of whom are wearing gloves. You tell me which of these has done a better job of mitigating risk.

The groceries and Walmart have finally implemented special shopping hours for seniors and other high-risk people, all of them assuming that seniors are early risers. But that doesn’t help the rest of us, who are bound to run into returning spring breakers stocking up.

And now, about five hours after I wrote that sentence, the news has continued to zing all over the map. I made my first post-virus-arrival foray into City Market, where the first two employees I saw were scrubbing surfaces but where I passed well within six feet of numerous people. And no hand sanitzer at the pharmacy counter. But several customers each with one eight-pack of toilet paper.

My landlord had already called work by the time I got there, offering to halve our rent for the next couple of months, which made me cry. I didn’t realize how stressful this has been.

But then a rumor flew that the governor was going to put the state on lockdown, although his “breaking news” speech did not mention that at all but focused on steps the state is taking to try to minimize the already-massive economic harm.

Meanwhile, 9 News reported, the feds are ordering the states not to release daily unemployment numbers — I’m sure this might make the president look bad, which is certainly a top concern for all of us trying to keep people employed.

I sent my homebound, on-the-mend employees an e-mail, telling them that they have jobs. As of this minute, which is about all anyone can promise. In the meantime, City Market is hiring.

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