Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 45

Today marks the 45th day since Governor Newsom’s stay-at-home orders took effect on March 19th, 2020.

And for a second week in a row, protests greeted the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento, as well as in Los Angeles, as more people expressed their vexation with the ordinances, a lack of services, and burgeoning joblessness.

In the seven weeks since March 19th, 2020, over 3.7 million people in California have filed for unemployment claims, according to the LA Daily News.

But a lack of work and the call to continue socially distancing notwithstanding, it looked like a typical Sunny weekend driving past Echo Park this afternoon, with scores of people over the grass surrounding the famous Lake.

At least in Metropolitan L.A., even if the beaches are closed, city-goers have green pastures to enjoy. The fact of the matter is that as spring sunshine looms larger over L.A.’s dry interior, it will only become more difficult to keep the state’s 40 million people indoors. Californians pay taxes, after all, not to mention rent and mortgages, to be able to enjoy the outdoors here.

In L.A., 55% of the city’s residents are renters.

In all likelihood, then, in effort to fend off more unrest from the citizenry, then, Governor Newsom, along with mayor Garcetti should announce significant changes to the ordinances soon.

Since March 19th, Los Angeles’s 10 million residents have counted over 24,000 cases of the coronavirus across its population, though that number, as before, is an under-count due to lack of testing.

By contrast, halfway across the world, in Vietnam, with over 95 million people between its jurisdiction, the country has counted just 270 cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak, and zero deaths to show for it.

That statistic is one that should make every Californian–and indeed every American–pause to ask the following: As the richest economy on the planet, if not the health and future of its work-force, just what is our government invested in? And what’s it waiting for?

J.T.

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Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 31

As for most people, 31 days through this unprecedented time have gone by far more quickly than I could have imagined. I’ve been writing as a way to document my experience, but even so much writing only begins to tell the story. And while I’d like to look at everything written through the days to piece together some explanation of it all, it’s also true that I’ve got still more writing to do.

There are serious moments when I look at the world around me as though I may be the only one who truly exists in it. I know that might seem strange, but my mind is like a great shadow, cast over everything I say and do. Writing is a way to subdue this shadow, to reflect it back, and to let my mind connect with other minds who may also exist.

This probably also explains why I take so much pleasure in reading. I can be anywhere in the world, on an airplane 10,000 feet above sea level, or at my desk in the middle of a pressing workflow, but if faced with an engrossing read in my hands, the real universe can wait. A good book makes me a part of two worlds, both of which deserve my utmost attention and courtesy in equal degrees.

In the days following this quarantine, I hope to see more libraries, and more spaces where people are encouraged to sit peaceably as they read, write, and create their day in every other way they might. For now, while the “real” library is closed, there is another library stored in these entries of mine, as well as in the precious world offline, which still exists as mightily as ever, in the pages of a million books still left to read, in a million journals still left to write, and in countless real stories still between each line.

And for the record, I do not mean to be the only one who may exist. I value immeasurably every voice and every face promising that other minds besides mine also verifiably populate the world around me just like I do. In fact, as it turns out, the very mind that leads me to wander away from reality is the same one I use to get back to that very reality. I believe this is how it works for most of us, right?

In other words, it’s becoming clearer to me that perhaps even before the quarantine many of us were already quarantined, in our minds. But just like “the real one,” I can admit the long shadow has its upsides too. Today turns out to be one of those days. What does your quarantine say?

J.T.

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Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 12

Because more than one reader has asked, it’s a relief to note that Doña Ana was able to find some toilet paper for herself and her boys not too long after her cuento was shared on the blog. She has been home with her boys the last two weeks, taking the precautionary measures extra seriously. In addition to her duties looking after her sons, Doña Ana also manages her blood pressure for type 2 diabetes; needless to say, illnesses already take an extra toll on her immune system, so she is simply not taking any chances with coronavirus.

All across Los Angeles are mothers sheltering in place with their mijos, watching diligently for their needs by the minute, and rising to meet each call with grace that is also fierceness that is also deep compassion and communication.

Since our report yesterday, an additional five cases have been recorded in East Hollywood for a total of ten (10), while the adjacent Silver Lake area has reported an additional eight (8) for a total of eighteen (18) cases there. The numbers will keep growing through the next few weeks, but there’s reason to be hopeful.

L.A. continues to lie like a ghost-town, and while I know that our officials have to be cautiously optimistic, meaning that they should say little at this point over the effects of the stay at home orders, it’s clear that in Los Angeles–as everywhere else the restriction of movement has been taken seriously–the orders will have a positive effect in slowing the rate of the spread.

Even so, already the city is changing immeasurably. Already it is becoming something that will also take time to unravel from when the winds turn back in the other direction. Doña Ana is looking after her and her kids’ well being with vivacious fervor. She is adapting to meet the moment by taking on a set of new customs given an unsecured environment. These new customs will not simply vanish into thin air once the worst of the coronavirus passes.

All of society can be thought of as a child; once that child is taught a new behavior, the longer the new behavior is maintained, the more it stands to become a part of that child’s permanent character. Humans aren’t born to be afraid just as they aren’t born to discriminate against each other, but they learn these things over time.

I heard recently that a society is based–most of all–on trust, a trust in institutions. When a couple trusts that they can live within a certain area, they take their chances and move in there. When a set of parents trust the schools within their range, they take their chances and allow strangers at those schools to parent after their kids for a while.

With this health scare, however, trust is ebbing out with each day. Trust is changing. And it won’t simply crawl right back in haste. To the science which will show that diseases like the coronavirus are manageable with enough purposeful planning, many people will turn away. To the invitations to socialize with others for the benefit of time as a community, more people will choose to save the hassle and spend time at home instead. To love, people will ask themselves, do I want love, or life?

Our society will feel lonelier as a result of being changed by this collective experience. It will feel traumatized. But it’s perhaps exactly then that we can begin a process of collective recovery inclusive of all of our well being. What a time just to be a witness for all of it. What an extraordinary time. Here’s to JIMBO TIMES being here.

J.T.