#COVID19Chronicles-11: April 25, 2020: Needing to adapt

My mother-in-law was complaining the other evening about the smell of Dettol and how she preferred Pine-Sol. It reminded me of a long-running debate about products that are essentially the same, but sold as different brands, especially in the UK versus US markets. These two products are amongst a long list of such items. I didn’t take on the debate and about this whimsical topic, noting that she may be with us for many weeks, yet, and no need to wrankle her; path of least resistance:)

How could I have anticipated that disinfectant would be the topic of the day yesterday, after President Trump suggested hitting the body with heat or light (UV) or injecting disinfectant to kill off COVID19? Surely, he wasn’t serious.

He looked totally serious till the world ridiculed him, then he swung back in typical fashion saying he was being sarcastic.

He was mocked mercilessly on the Internet with images such as ‘Dettol on the rocks’. Major manufacturers issued statements that injecting/ingesting their products was dangerous.

The sarcasm angle seemed hollow once it was know that a letter on the advice had been sent to the president: as the Guardian wrote:

‘The leader of the most prominent group in the US peddling potentially lethal industrial bleach as a “miracle cure” for coronavirus wrote to Donald Trump at the White House this week.

In his letter, Mark Grenon told Trump that chlorine dioxide – a powerful bleach used in industrial processes such as textile manufacturing that can have fatal side-effects when drunk – is “a wonderful detox that can kill 99% of the pathogens in the body”. He added that it “can rid the body of Covid-19”.’

Masks are now essentials that have become fashion accessories. We have seen a little cottage industry develop in recent weeks, in lots of places, as people have used the time on their hands to make their own masks, and we have joined that effort. We got ours from a friend, and we have made some for others including our security guards.

What does a day look like when you spend it outdoors? Butterflies and birds, flitting about and feeding on nectar. Lizards moving from shade to sun to shade. Ants finding crumbs or bigger things on which to feed.

Having made my office outdoors over the past couple of weeks, I’ve enjoyed the changing air around me and moving to shade as the sun shifts. Recent studies indicate that sunlight and vitamin D may help defeat COVID19, so I’m convincing myself that it’s good for my health. My daughter came to join me yesterday morning and stayed through the early afternoon, with a free period then her last lesson of the day, French. Her mother joined us for a while in the early afternoon, decked in headphones and mobile phone till the heat got to her.

My mother-in-law excitedly connected to a Zoom session with her regular Friday bible study group, after her daughter set up the iPad for her. Some in the group are challenged by the technology, but they were glad to see each other, maybe, after several weeks without such contacts. We’ll see how that goes in coming weeks.

Zoom is now the newest way to interact and the family Zoom chat with Nassau after dinner was as cacophonous as usual.

People are adjusting to home confinement in different ways, including being imaginative about things like exercise routines–virtual trainers, laps around the bedroom, walks or rides around the neighbourhood, swimming, running–whatever works.

But, tolerating the confinement has its limits. More voices are being heard calling for easing of restrictions, especially for the sake of avoiding too much economic damage. We’ll see how that works, but it’s also clear that people are not yet ready for business as usual in terms of congregating and doing activities with large groups in confined spaces. So, polls are showing people wary of air travel, going to restaurant, etc.

People are trying to find enjoyment in all this but one of the regular outlets–watching professional sport–has been shot off for weeks (replaced in part by some virtual versions). But, yearning for that and school and other participatory sporting activities is strong and it will be interesting to see what happens as spring turns to summer in the northern hemisphere.

What curfew? Many countries have been in some form of extensive lock down for weeks now. In Jamaica, we have curfews now from 6am through 6pm. Our gardener was here yesterday and seemed very lax about the whole thing, as 4pm came (the time work is supposed to stop), then 5, then 5.45. When asked about his timing he suggested the police were tolerant if you “lean pon 6”, ie just on the cusp of the curfew and heading home. It’s understandable that some wont be able to meet the hours sometimes. Our situation is better than in some of our CARICOM neighbours, though, where movement outside the home is severely restricted during each 24 hours, beyond some essential trips, and the police appear vigilant in enforcing the rules.

For sure, nothing will be the same again, but how much of the old normal returns and when will be something to watch.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)

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