So many things closing. Today (by which I mean yesterday, Sunday, but I haven't gone to bed yet) all the Kāpiti Coast District Council pools and libraries and other services were closed until further notice. And little things I hear about like the local train museum. My sister's portrait group. I'm on the board of the local women's centre and we made the call to close the non-essential services. There are already women who may be socially isolated and vulnerable using the service, I wonder what this time will be like for them. The volunteers are figuring out ways to keep the community alive. We're keeping the Refuge service open as long as we can. We're all meant to stay at home but there's nagging question, what if home isn't safe? More and more cancellations, they're thinking of not having the Olympics.
I have been talking and talking about Coronavirus. I went walking with S. the other night, she works in a public hospital outpatients ward. She is neither a nurse nor a doctor, but they are on standby for the moment when Outpatients gets shut down and converted to ICU, at which point they will get emergency training on how to help treat people. They are anticipating 50% of health workers will get the virus and often health workers get it badl, so possibly the viral load is worse There is not the right equipment, and there is not enough equipment. A strange frightening waiting game for her. So much more real for her than me. I tried to talk about other things as I thought some reprieve from the worry might be good for S. and for me, but all paths led back to it, everything related to it. S. told me a doctor in her ward came back from overseas and ignored the 14 day self-isolation rule and turned up at work. He was sent home. A man who had possible contact with a case turned up for his regular health check, even though he was meant to be in self-isolation, he was sent home too.
I talk to my friend Catharyn in California, who tells me she's not the home schooling type. She is home schooling. They can only go out for groceries or to the chemist or to go for walks outside. She lives near trails that are usually empty but are crowded now with everyone bored and walking, it's hard to self-isolate when everyone is there too, self-isolating. Trump is having temper tantrums at reporters. He was in grand denial about the virus for 2 months before he became an expert on it and is touting solutions with no science attached to them.
Yesterday was the day Jacinda did a speech that made some people cry. She's quite compassionate. She talks about kindness. She announced the introduction of a 4 tier alert level for Coronavirus,. We're at level 2. Now the debates rage on social media about whether that's the right level. We're good at absorbing bureaucracy here. The arguments go on as if there has always been a four level alert system for this virus we hardly knew about a month ago. There are petitions and accusations, there are declarations and expert opinions. We reckon. We reckon. We reckon.
One of my sister's friend has a colleagues who is infected, so her friend is self-isolating. It's getting closer you know. The first time someone I know, has been in close contact with someone infected. That sister, her husband and son are all at home now. Their son didn't want to be at school because of the virus and they were okay with that. We're all at home now, the message she sent said. My other sister is working from home too. I'm working from home. My mother is well and truly in the vulnerable population lot who have been advised to stay at home. They haven't shut the schools yet.
The 14 cases yesterday got recalculated to 13, another 14 confirmed cases today. There are no cases in Kāpiti we know about. No word on if there is community infection. I thought community infection meant it was passed from one person who hadn't been overseas to another person but it's not. There was a clarification in today's Ministry of Health press release saying it means they can not trace where the infection came from. I can see now, it is a wilder thing, and when it happens they know they haven't got it contained. It's when they can stop drawing the diagram which says A gave it to B who gave it to C,D,E,F,G therefore we need to contact H to Z. They won't know who to contact. Community infection is when it's gone rogue.
We went walking the Escarpment Track with one of Alex's friend's family today. We were two families of four, and there again, it was all we talked about really. Not far into the track, under the trees, were 12 gigantic sheep lying down. The way their bodies splayed under them it looked like they were nesting, sitting on giant eggs. Unshorn and somehow unwordly with all their wool. A different sort of creature, wild now, eating the native plants. The Council's been in touch with the farmer but nothing has been done. You get the feeling they're out there now for good, trampling the new growth, getting bigger.
The Escarpment track is a steep track that soars above the coastal railway line and road, so high you feel like you teeter there above the ocean. Today the ocean had five distinct wide stripes, closest to the shore -brown, then green, darker green, dark blue and a sort of hazy purple rim at the horizon. We went up and down the dirt tracks and the steep steep steps talking about the virus, about how it might spread and when, and why aren't the schools closing. and what it felt like when the borders shut, and how people are flouting the rules. What it might mean for the economy and for jobs, for our jobs. And has the horse bolted, or is it bolting now? And did NZ move fast enough. And what's coming. And wh how on earth can we concentrate on anything else.
It was very windy at the top of the Escarpment track and the kids made sort of parachutes of their nylon jackets, folding them up in a certain way so the wind blew the fabric taut, out from their bodies and they grinned, leaning fully into the wind, letting the wind buffet them, letting the wind hold them up.
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