A sample of comments that my wife and I managed to hear in a single day, Tuesday, March 17, from people talking about the coronavirus (except for #9, from different places in New Jersey).
(1) 11:30 am:
This whole coronavirus thing just strikes me as bullshit.
(2) 11:33 am:
Yeah, I’m going to the gym. Why wouldn’t I? I can’t harm anyone by going to a gym. Come on.
(3) 12:21 pm:
I’m just waiting for the coronavirus to get to the prisons; hopefully the inmates will all croak and we’ll get some population control.
(4) 12:22 pm:
I think they’re lying to us about this virus. But I don’t care. I’ll be fine. I don’t get the flu shot, either. I’m fine without it. It never works.
(5) 5 pm:
Asked about the coronavirus: “It’s all such nonsense, it’s being blown way out of proportion.” Asked about Anthony Fauci’s views on the matter: “Who is Anthony Fauci?”
(6) 7:43 pm:
Friend (in a text to me, more or less out of the blue): Know anything about the criteria for ventilator exclusion?
[Two hours later]
Friend: Just interested to know. When the system gets overwhelmed, what protocols determine who gets treated?
Me: God only knows. I’ll ask my brother at some point.
I need to decompress a bit. Work today marked the transition to a war zone. And the difference between the combatants and the politicians who sent us to battle while watching from a safe distance has become stark.
(8) 9:43 pm, me, to myself, in my head:
The same American people who for 52 years have expressed apathy about the Israeli military occupation they’ve wholeheartedly supported are now chafing under the burdens of a single day’s worth of voluntary curfews–put in place as a response to their own irresponsible failure to engage in social distancing. That hypocrisy and irresponsibility doesn’t stop them from thinking of themselves as the greatest country on the planet, or wondering why they’re hated by so many other people on it. Sad that the coronavirus will so painfully call their bluff, and leave so many casualties in its wake. Sad but true.
(9) I almost forgot this last item, which I also happened to see yesterday, but online. In some ways, it’s the best of the bunch–not some random idiot off the street, but a loud-mouthed Ph.D who’s always lecturing people about the motivated reasoning that they’re engaging in, and that he’s in a position to call out. Apparently, neither “public health experts,” nor “front-line hospital physicians” nor “asymptomatic viral transmission” figure prominently in Phil’s ontology. What does figure is the false alternative of holier-than-thou cynicism and panic. There are other options, Phil. You’d be surprised.
Contrary to Magness, universities didn’t mass cancel their “basic operations”; they put classes online, the very thing that people like Magness are always touting as a panacea for high tuition costs. Basic administrative operations remain in place even now, as do clinical internships and practicums in fields like nursing and psychology. Students at my university have the option of staying on campus. And as I’ve argued here ad nauseam, NCAA sports were both reluctant and late to cancel “basic operations.” Something to hash out later, when the dust clears.