The Pandemic Diaries: mid-August

Well, I haven’t updated this in a while, I see. Since COVID-19 left China and hit the so-called western world, picking my Country as its favourite place to announce itself to the world, I have been keeping some sort of web journal, sometimes even a weekly update. If you feel like flicking through it, it […]

Well, I haven’t updated this in a while, I see. Since COVID-19 left China and hit the so-called western world, picking my Country as its favourite place to announce itself to the world, I have been keeping some sort of web journal, sometimes even a weekly update. If you feel like flicking through it, it kind of escalates from a polite “greetings, things aren’t so bad” to a “well, shit” kind of vibe. You find them variously located, under the Milan cathegory and the coronavirus tag. The first posts don’t have the hashtag, as I clearly didn’t think this was going to become a series. Boy, was I wrong.

I did no update in July, although I had something in mind, and here I am, and it’s already mid-August, and maybe you are wondering… well, not wondering if I’m still alive, I’ve been tweeting and writing other stuff, but maybe you’re wondering how things are going. At this point of things, darlings, you should be the ones to tell me.

How is it going?

The United States are looking scary, but so is UK and Spain. We’re currently prohibited from travelling to the States, like banned, and it’s something the Mighty White Man isn’t used to, isn’t it? Lots of people have been freaking out about this and the other “restrictions”.

According to the Telegraph and a bunch of other newspapers, people in Berlin were protesting, no later than August 1st, about the measures taken by their government in order to contain the pandemic. I guess it’s no fun, when you’re the one being kept from moving around.

For those of you who don’t know that, things have been kind of looking up, around here, restrictions worked and the curve is something like this.

– Shut up, I know, it’s slightly going up again, I know.

Restrictions have been lifted, with certains limitations: it’s mandatory to wear a mask indoors at all times and outdoors where there’s no way of maintaining social distancing, social distancing itself is mandate on public transports including high speed trains (but not on airplanes, mostly because of pressure from Companies such as Ryanair and Easyjet), schools didn’t reopen and good luck if you want to hold agonistic training sessions, not to mention LEGO Serious Play, but our intensive care units seems to be holding their grounds.

I have been taking a break from work, although this really isn’t the year to go on vacation, if there ever has been a year. It’s not a good year to go on vacation because it’s not a good year to be crammed with other people, if ever there was such a year, but that has never been my kind of vacation anyway. It’s not a good year to go on vacation mostly because things are looking up, right now – contagios ratio has been really low, in the past week – but we know a second wave is coming and we have to prepare.

Still, I took a break. I had to.
I had to take a break to get some sun on my skin, some fish in my belly, go whip my body back into shape.
I had to take a break from all the worries.
I had to take a break to be more productive, because ideas flourish better, that way.
So, I did.

This was accompanied of course by a lot of sense of guilt, although I have been self-quarantining since March and you could have used me as a surgical mask.

I took a couple of breaks, actually, both with friends: one took me to Tuscany, the other one took me to Sicily. It was a strange journey in two beautiful and very different parts of Italy, a week one from the other, and I’m still ruminating about what I encountered.

Tuscany was very quiet, as I was expecting it to be.
We were stationed near a place at the crossroads between the Chianti Valley (like the wine), the Valdarno (like the River) and Val di Pesa (like… well, nevermind) and there were few couples, mostly couples of foreigners with family in Italy.
Locals were worried and they all reacted with a sort of gentle care and incredulity when they heard I was from Lombardy. They said they thought Florence was in bad shape. I described Milan. We all had a drink together. I mean, everyone from his own glass. One meter apart from each other. It was a glass of sanitizer, anyway.

Sicily was a different story.
In the region, notorious for a local meme “There’s no Coviddi here” (the actual declaration of an angry woman who was interviewed for wearing no mask in what I think was a crowded beach, few months ago) I encountered lots of… oddities.
If Tuscany demonstrated empathy but still it seemed to me like they have no idea, in Sicily they didn’t have the idea and they didn’t seem to be interested in forming one.
It all started when I couldn’t rent a room.

– This might have been a mistake…

It continued on the plane, with the hostess having to repeatedly remember people to put their masks back on. They can’t manage to turn off their phone: do you figure them managing to keep a mask on for the entire journey? They are all acting as if that tiny piece of fabric it’s killing them.

– A round in these, and you’ll see how they stop complaining.

And in the enchanted island, where everyone is always very nice and everybody is wishing to go above and beyond to help you (even and particularly when you are doing just fine and don’t want any help), there seemed to be some interesting theories. Mainly revolving around the fact that:
a) they have no virus;
b) the virus they have is coming from immigrants; therefore
c) immigrants should stay at home; and anyways
d) the virus is mainly in the North; because
e) we Northerners have lots of immigrants; and
f) it doesn’t really matter if you’re here or not because you’re not an immigrant, but you’re a Northerner, so it’s better if you’re not, and anyway here’s the check for the fish you just ate.

– I did eat that fish, I confess

Needless to say, that kind of attitude can be found elsewhere and not everyone I encountered saw things that way. What was really peculiar, aside from hearing a country of emigrants speaking ill of immigrants which is always kind of odd, was the sense of careless impotence, the distinct conviction that:
a) you can’t make a difference in things;
b) you shouldn’t either, it’s not up to you, and the State doesn’t deserve it anyways.

What the actual fuck?

As we progress into the year, Summer is coming to an end and we have seen a steady increase of 100 cases per day in the last week (yesterday they were around 800) it seems pretty obvious that we can’t affort another generalized lockdown, for a whole bunch of different reasons but mostly because I don’t think lots of people will put up with it. Because people, in what might have been an attempt to protect themselves from COVID-19, have secured their brain up up their asses. We’ll probably have a situation similar to what we saw in early March: some restrictions in place and an appeal to everyone’s civic duty to avoid certain activities if they’re not absolutely necessary. And for that to work, you have to believe that you can make a difference. More. You have to believe that it’s your duty to try and make a difference.

We’re doomed.

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