Selections from A Journal of the Plague Year


D A V I D   A C K L E Y



March 12, 2020

As did Defoe, I am beginning this after the plague began, but then it came on so rapidly that I was no more prepared than anyone. Nothing rested on my being prepared, since, who am I ?  More to the point, none of those supposed to be in ‘the know’  seemed any more prepared than I. The Australian Prime Minister put in place abundant measures for virus testing, emergency care, and isolation, weeks ago. Where were our vaunted scientists weeks or months ago and why weren’t they even sounding the alarm? Never mind, since this is supposed to be merely a record of events, without too much editorializing.

Last night, Trump spoke “from the Oval Office,” that bulliest of pulpits. He praised himself for stopping travel from China, and castigated “Europe,”, which, in his mind is now a single country, for not doing so sooner. Evidently in punishment he has banned all air travel from Europe. In his first sentence, he called it a “foreign virus,” in keeping him with his disdain for all aliens; Mexicans, Chinese, Hondurans and coronaviruses, all one to him. Today the stock market, cheerfully reassured, has responded by plunging a couple of thousand points in its first hour, no doubt a record dive when the records are recorded.

Given that this is an information society, and that we are deluged by information, moment by moment,  are besotted with information, it’s startling how ill—and misinformed we seem to be. One doctor, moments ago:

There are 8 billion people on the planet; it is reasonable to assume that over time, a third of those will become infected.”


And so if 20% of that one third ( 2 ½ billion X  20% = ) will become moderately ill, whatever that means ( pretty sick to very sick), that’s over 500,000, 000 and if 1-2% die that’s 5 to 10 million deaths world wide.

We were thinking about going to Hanover today, but Ann became paranoid after listening to part of Trump’s speech. Then she read an LA Times piece about how long the virus survives ( hours and days) on various surfaces and got even more so, so we decided to stay home. But for sixty years, since we’ve lived north of the notch, we’ve been more or less isolated, so self-quarantining if need be, isn’t really so different.






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