Coronavirus quarantine diaries day 3: A restless night

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

For other installments of the diary click here and Day 2 here.

I’m still jet-lagged apparently. Up at 3:30am. Sleeping since seven in the evening. Going to sleep watching Da Vinci Code perhaps was not the best idea.

The unending coronavirus updates on television seem to be only interrupted by US Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders losing three or more primaries this night. His loses in Mississippi, Missouri and Michigan seem to clinch it for rival Joe Biden. Meanwhile the rest of the US is being torn apart by accusations the US is not doing enough testing for coronavirus.

The US has a low rate of the virus so far, around 2.3 per million, compared to Italy, Bahrain, South Korea, China and Switzerland who have more than ten times that. If the US were South Korea, for instance, it would have some 40,000 cases, not 754 as it currently does. But the US appears to be rapidly increasing its cases.

Many countries stand out today for rapid increase, including France, Spain, Denmark, the UK, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Most European countries, despite their boasts of good health care and modernity don’t seem to be doing a good job dealing with the crises. Italy has cordoned off the whole country, which is a novel solution. The Health Minister of the UK even has the virus.

In Jerusalem where I’m in quarantine along with tens of thousands of others, the world appears to be looking a lot more like my living room. Soon more countries will be shutting down travel, shutting down public gatherings, isolating people. Isolation is ok in a world of social media where we spend so much time online anyway. But it raises questions about various governments abilities to handle the crises, the lack of information and lack of ability to even contest or question various guidelines. When it comes to health authoritarianism it is clear that in democracies the citizen is particularly at the mercy of the state more than in other issues. Authorities can, at a whim, enact sweeping measures without any check or balance. It’s not like courts can rule that, yes, we are allowed to travel and have public gatherings. In the interests of health, even hysteria, rules come first.

Last night I had an elaborate dream of being back in Iraq, tramping through some field, covering war. It was an offensive. The enemy had been beaten. We were walking across a field, through some wadis and rivulets, with several other journalists. I had some concern that the young men behind us who had surrendered hours before had not been thoroughly checked. When I awoke, half asleep still, I thought to record the dream and then dreamt of recording it. The lingering affects of covering too many conflicts are always there in the background.

Today I should check work emails and do some writing on a new book. I should write a few articles. I feel a bit of writers block at pitching new stories. I need to write something new for a variety of publications and despite a relatively decent output in recent weeks the trip to the US recently and break in my routine has hobbled me. Also I feel less energetic from not going outside. Lethargic, sitting on my couch, not able to go to a park or the gym or do something. I feel tired, and fatigued and have a bit of sniffles and a cough. From time to time I wonder if perhaps they are symptoms when I read the reports of how the virus spreads. But that’s how this hysteria eats away at us.

The US state of New York is now deploying the National Guard in New Rochelle. My grandfather owned a place in Larchmont near there in the 1950s. Must have been nice for the my father growing up there, he always told stories about it. That was a different time though.

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