Two days ago I received an antibody test, as I was sick for six weeks from February through March with a heavy cough and respiratory pain. I am still awaiting results. It is approximately day 75 of the lockdown. People are becoming more and more frustrated, and many are no longer complying with official orders. Guidance from our state governor is vague and non-committal, and people are becoming frustrated with the lack of an exit strategy from lockdown. Unemployment locally is sitting around 35%, there are sporadic food shortages at major grocery stores, however restaurants remain well stocked.
We have lost four people at my job, and the disease has gone around in three waves. Everyone on the job has been exposed by now. I have stopped keeping track of close contacts that have tested positive. The total death toll for transit workers in the city sits at over 100, more than every police officer killed on duty in the last 40 years. Over 5000 have been sick.
Public transport is a key essential service, and the buses are still very busy. Most riders are hospital workers or other essential workers who cannot work from home. Routes to and from hospitals have become very busy, I have been working to schedule extra buses to relieve crowding. I am so proud of all the drivers and mechanics I have worked with who continue to come to work to provide these services, despite all the illness around them.
The extensive time and extra hours I spend working has led to me feeling in a bubble, disconnected from what is going on outside of the bus garage and its environs. Outside of work, everyone is angry. Angry at the governor, angry at China, angry at the President, angry at each other. The level of human suffering from economic causes has without a doubt overshadowed the initial suffering from the virus. There is a huge debate going on, both sides without any rational arguments or data, those who want to reopen everything and those who want everything to remain closed indefinitely. A reopening is needed without any further delay, however it needs to be done carefully, and hypercharged polarized debates aren’t helpful.
My own mental health seems better than normal lately. Extra work keeps me sane. In addition to working I pass the time to exercise a lot, I am now running several miles a day to stay healthy and exercise my lungs, and doing push ups and pull ups at home to retain muscle mass. Virtually all the deaths here have been from people in poor health, so exercise, especially lung health, is a major priority for me. I have also increased my sleep from 7-8 hours to nearly 10-12 hours per night, mainly because of boredom and fatigue from running.
I fear the current path is unsustainable, and I know the levels of unemployment will lead to more disaster in the future. I fear a disenfranchised working class will only add fuel to Trumpism and other extremist politics. Bipartisan rhetoric is becoming increasingly isolationist, and I am sure the post Coronavirus era will be one of closed borders, restricted movement and suspicion of immigrants. I feel certain that the globalized world we once knew will cease to exist, and global mobility will not exist in the way it once had. I feel fortunate to have traveled extensively last summer, flying to Europe twice, and I know it will be many years before I will be able to again. I take solace in remembering the trips I took over the summer when I am feeling trapped in my apartment.