Plague, Part 12, Updates From Jersey, March 15, 2020

Last night, our mayor sent out a notice that there are five positive cases at the town hospital; two are local residents. Rutgers has a professor who tested positive. Jonah said that his roommates aren’t feeling so hot.

We’re not in an official lockdown mode in the town yet, but I’m sure that it will happen soon. My family is officially locked down by the jurisdiction of me. I enough food for two weeks.

The mayor and superintendent sent out angry emails yelling at the parents of high school and college kids who let them go out this weekend. Idiot kids think this is some kind of a party. There must be NO CONTACT at all with any outsiders.

We’re all going to get sick anyway, but if we flatten the curve that may save my parents’ lives. And I am rather fond of them.

If there’s a silver lining to this whole catastrophe, people are outside walking and hiking like crazy. It’s a good thing, because it will keep us healthy and our immune systems prepared to beat this virus. It’s a good habit anyway. We went for a walk this morning, and will head out again in an hour.

The malls, churches, schools, government are all closed now. Small businesses are hurting badly, but we’re going to have to deal with that problem later.

I’m about to shop online. The GAP, Banana Republic, and J.Crew are all having 50% off sales. I’ll post links to good stuff later. Let’s keep the economy moving!!

If you want to do something good, get on Facebook and give your friends and family positive reinforcement for social distancing. Many people are still surprisingly ignorant, especially those who aren’t on other forms of social media.

Now some links:

18 thoughts on “Plague, Part 12, Updates From Jersey, March 15, 2020

  1. Update from MN: Gov. Walz ordered all schools to be closed by Wed. March 18 and remain closed until at least Fri. March 27. However, teachers are to report for work and will spend those eight days planning on how to do school long-term from a distance. It will be very tricky. We’re in a rural area, 47% Free and Reduced lunch. Many kids live far from school (20-30 miles) so can’t just pop in for lunch every day. Some families do not have Internet access at home and their family’s only device is the parent’s smartphone. I’ve got several ideas brewing in my brain, but waiting to hear specific instructions from my superintendent.

    Also part of the executive order: schools are required to provide child care for health care workers. I love this! I don’t know what that will look like yet, but am so thankful for this requirement across the state.

    This morning Governor Walz said something like “We need to move away from what would be perfect and instead do what is good.”


  2. Cuomo wants de Blasio to pull the plug:

    “New York City should close its schools, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday during a conference call with reporters. He called on the city to come up with a plan within 24 hours to address child care for health care workers and how to feed low-income students.

    ““I do believe that New York City schools should be closed,” Cuomo said on a conference call. “I call on the parties and the leadership in New York City to come up with a plan on childcare and on food and to do it within 24 hours.””

    “Closing New York City schools seems all but likely now that Mayor Bill de Blasio also lost the backing Sunday of one of his biggest allies in keeping them open: 1199SEIU, the local health-care workers union.”

    “The union’s president, George Gresham, called on the mayor to close city schools as child care options for the union’s workers were being worked out.”

    “New York City is increasingly an outlier in keeping schools open, as most of the nation’s 30 largest school systems have closed down. And other districts are providing food and child care. Chicago, for instance, will coordinate food distribution centers and run drop-off child care programs at 18 parks.”

    That sounds like there’s probably a lot of political pressure on de Blasio right now.


    1. bj said, “Can’t Cuomo order the schools closed? Inslee did in Washington.”

      Not a NY person, but my guess is that he can, but he doesn’t personally want to take the responsibility. Plus, if Cuomo closed the schools and NYC didn’t have a plan set up, it would be a disaster.

      It occurs to me that the schools-as-daycare-for-healthcare workers excuse isn’t very satisfactory, because hospital workers do not work 9-5 Monday-Friday. They might have completely different needs.


  3. Ten years? How could anyone know what will happen in ten years? If there is anyone here who does, can you tell me what the stock market will do? (I know, fluctuate, but that is not useful.)


    1. The impact will be very long lasting. Do I know if it’s going to be seven, eight, nine years? No. But things aren’t going to go back to normal by this fall.

      When the market crashed in 2008, things fell apart. Small business owners and contractors were telling that it took years to recover from that. They are still talking about it with me. Steve’s salary was cut in half, and is only just now returning to pre-2008 levels. This will be worse. Sorry.


      1. I hope not because I don’t see what rate cuts and payroll tax holidays will do for it. That’s just making it easier for people who don’t lose a job. Trickle Down hasn’t ever worked well and it’s really not going to work when people aren’t leaving the house.


    2. No one can see the future. That people are panicking means this is probably the time to buy. But again, we don’t have a crystal ball. The entire world is affected by this. However, the base needs for food, shelter, and clothing continue.


  4. The NYC schools are closing.

    “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday evening that Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk and New York City schools will close this week. Cuomo also said in a statement that New York City must put a plan in place to make sure that children who rely on school meals will still get fed and that parents, especially health care workers and first responders, will be provided child care.”

    “In a news conference Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said schools will close Monday and remain closed at least until April 20. The mayor said there is a chance schools could remain closed for the rest of the school year.”

    “The announcement came after widespread calls to close the schools and protests from “furious” teachers who thought it was irresponsible to keep schools open.”


    1. Ok, if we accept that we extended the expansion of the economy by 6 years ago, and each year makes the subsequent recession 2.5 months longer, we could be bound for 17.5+18 months of recession. Phew, almost 3 years and that would be the 2nd longest depression.

      I hope that’s not what happens.


  5. After working from home and keeping the kids home Friday, we are treating this as day 4. My daughter (grade 1) is in a public school in Queens, and anecdotally her class was no more than 50% there Friday. Was probably going to be more like 15% today, schools closed or not.

    We are both setup to work from home somewhat, but it’s going to be an adventure. Work from home with two young children isn’t the most productive. We’re prepared enough that I think we won’t need to leave our apartment for any reason until next weekend. After that it gets tougher. In an apartment we need to leave and take an elevator to go anywhere. It’s going to be hard to keep distance when we do have to leave.


  6. Here in my rural IL college town people are beginning to hole up, and everyone is worried about the local businesses. As of tomorrow no bars/restaurants will be open for dine-in service, per the governor’s orders, so mostly they’re switching to carry-out/curbside pickup. Last night my partner and I decided not to go out but went to pick up a pizza at the best local place. It was deserted (partly due to college students not coming back). I tipped $10 and am starting to think about how to support these places and workers. We have groceries for several weeks, but maybe for now we should order in sometimes; of course we’re factoring in the risks to that.

    They are publicizing info on how to apply for unemployment, but I wonder how quickly that will get going. People in town have also talked about buying a lot of gift certificates from the locally-owned places to use in the future.

    It will be interesting/perhaps terrifying to see how things differ between rural and urban areas. It’s possible we have zero cases here and my semi-isolation is an overreaction today. Maybe some small towns will be spared. On the other hand, if one Hy-Vee cashier with no symptoms gets the virus and – as my cashier did yesterday – is still in the habit of licking her bare finger when pulling a $10 out of the register, we could have 100% infection. (All the money is still in my bathroom drying, after I washed it with soap and hot water.)

    Laura, I am inclined to agree with everything you are saying except recreational shopping online. Good for the companies, maybe, but not for the warehouse and delivery workers, who will be busy delivering essentials pretty soon.


    1. Don’t underestimate the number of rural Illinois people who commute to the nearest larger city (for example, Carlinville is an official commuter city to St. Louis). And Springfield has over 60,000 people driving in to work from elsewhere M-F. I read about a study done a decade ago that traced connections between communities by tracing serial numbers on money—some people were surprised at the deep connections between Chicago amd downstate, but as an Illinois resident I was surprised that they were surprised. That’s a no-brainer: sporting events, concerts, amd blue collar work (truck drivers and tradespeople).

      Not an overreaction, since the norm is long commutes for a significant part of the population.


  7. I do not expect my jobsite to shut down, as it is not a public site. But that will largely depend on the client, and if they direct the general contractor to do so (unlikely, but not impossible). My jobsite is mostly composed of traveling folks like myself, who largely live off of takeout food and have very little contact otherwise with the general public. By the time it is spreading to us, any abatement measures are worthless. If we get it, we got it from the grocery store, takeout food or drive-through coffee, or the gas station. We’re not going anywhere at 4AM when we get off work, except home to bed.


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