Nobody Knows Anything. All the Coronavirus Projections Are Wrong.

“Basically all these projections ended up being wrong.”

Andrew Cuomo, NY Governor, April 8

I’m intermittently optimistic, pissed off, depressed by this long drawn-out Groundhog’s Day experience. But as Cuomo keeps reminding us, it’s only been 40 days. That said, it seems interminable.

I fear we’ll be in this “plateau” purgatory for a couple of years

Why? Because until there’s a vaccine (18-24 months?) or unless we’ve been infected, “resolved” and have antibodies, we’re going to remain in social-distancing limbo.

This is even more apparent based on a recent report from the researchers at London’s Imperial College. They write that the best way to prevent the pandemic from recurring is through social distancing which could drag on for a year or more until doctors find a way to control the virus. A best-case scenario has a vaccine available for the general public in 18 months (but likely longer) with early supplies going to protect health workers.

So as you can see, I’m in the dumps today. Andrew Cuomo couldn’t even cheer me up. And even he sounds like he’s in a bit of a funk.

Scroll down for more on my ruminations over the last 40 days.
1. WHAT WILL CHANGE “FOREVER” AND WHAT WON’T?

I am so sick of hearing about how “everything will be forever changed” and how “nothing will ever be the same again.” Baloney. I totally disagree.

It might take a couple of years but based on history, people are overstating how much major catastrophes ultimately change our behavior.

For example:

Working from home. I see absolutely no evidence that people will forsake their offices to work from home. Hanging around the house, trying to get work done while the cat, the dog, and the kids are underfoot, has gotten really old, really fast for most people.

Home-cooking. It’s healthy and it saves money but all I hear people talking about is how they can’t wait to get out of the house and eat at a restaurant.

One major change I do anticipate is the growth of online grocery ordering/ delivery. It was already starting to happen before coronavirus but now Americans are adopting online grocery shopping faster than ever.

Travel. Once the economy rebounds and people have jobs and income, travel will roar back. I expect business travel will come back in a big way as well. I hear friends pining to get back to their busy work-travel lives. Microsoft Teams and Skype meetings fill a function but still way too glitchy to be a permanent replacement for in-person meetings.

Handshakes, however, might fall out of favor. I have noticed lately that seeing people shaking hands, e.g., on TV shows, makes me cringe.

Concerts and sporting events. I anticipate festivals and events will return with gusto. Streaming music from people’s living rooms is a curiosity but doesn’t replace the real thing.

Retail? Stores that were teetering on the brink will shutter for good, e.g. J.C. Penney, Sears, etc. The coronavirus will also serve as the death knell for many of those “always empty” stores in the mall, the ones that left you wondering how they could possibly be viable businesses. I predict anywhere from one third to one half of all existing retailers will have thrown in the towel by the time the 2020 holiday season rolls around.

Using a sample of one (myself ), I see spending on travel and restaurants booming as we head out of this crisis. For me, by the way, those two categories have represented 70% of my spending over the last few years. Going forward, that’s not changing! If anything I might spend even more.

2. What am I most looking forward to doing once this is over?

Hairdresser – especially for my keratin treatments from Rodrigo Padilla. Also, pampering/beautification services like pedicures and botox. But, keratin is #1 on my “can’t wait” list.

You heard it here first: The minute hairdressers reopen, there will be 300 million people storming their doors to get a haircut.

Restaurants. I’m counting the days until I can hit up Wayan, Thai Diner, Tavern by WS, and Soho House. Hopefully, all will still be in business when this is over.

Travel – my upcoming “Future of Everything” expedition with Nat Geo was finally canceled (of course). Supposedly to be rescheduled for August 2021 (fingers crossed!).

Gym and working out with my trainer IRL. However, I am surprised by how terrific my online workouts have been. I have especially enjoyed all of Jenny McClendon‘s sessions.

NYC Streetlife – nothing is better than being out and about, absorbing the energy of the city. Walking the High Line, doing a gallery crawl in Chelsea, strolling around the Lower East Side. People watching. Visiting my friends in every neighborhood in the city. Cannot wait!

3. AMUSING STUFF POPPING UP ON MY FEED
meredith bzdak’s beautiful instagram account

She’s an architect in Princeton and during lockdown is doing a great Instagram series called “My Town” in which she posts one image per day, with backstory. One that recently caught my eye is Springside Farm. And as an interesting aside, I met Meredith and her husband in Copenhagen at Kodbyens Fiskebar when we were seated next to each other at the chef’s counter.

A Milford couple putting up a new inflatable decoration outside their home each day while self-isolating with their children
Quarantine cravings

Uber Eats revealed the most popular takeout orders while we’re hunkering down for Coronavirus. And, btw, orders in the U.S. and Canada increased by 30% since mid-March.

Guess what is the most popular? French fries followed closely by Pad Thai and Crab Rangoon!


Animal Crossing New Horizons: The game for this coronavirus moment

I don’t get why people are so crazy about this game. I don’t actually know too much about it except that it’s a life simulation game played in real-time so you decorate and do stuff according to seasons. And it’s been around forever.

Fans say that although it doesn’t sound compelling on paper, this Nintendo game elicits a sense of calm and serenity that few other games can match. The naive art style, soft yet vibrant color palette, and lullaby-like music is good for the soul.

It’s all over my social media and everyone from kids to adults to celebs are into it.

Tiger King/ Joe Exotic/ Eric Goode/ Carole/ Meat Grinder

This Netflix show is all over my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I’ve not watched it but have heard enough to know who the main players are and what they’ve done to get this kind of attention.

In a nutshell, Tiger King tells the story of a man who calls himself Joe Exotic, who bred and exhibited big cats and other animals in a sketchy private zoo. Joe is now in prison, convicted of hiring someone to kill an activist named Carole Baskin. She tried to shut down his business and became his nemesis.

People either love the show because it’s such a crazy story or they’re over it and want all their friends to stop enabling Netflix from making it into an even bigger phenomenon.

The reason I got marginally interested is because of the director, Eric Goode. He’s a NYC downtown mover and shaker. He has owned some great hospitality properties that I’ve frequented (Bowery Hotel, B-Bar, Maritime Hotel, Ludlow Hotel, and Area, the club that was major way back in the day). He’s also a big animal lover and conservationist. He loves turtles so much that he started the Turtle Conservancy in Ojai. The Goodes are an interesting family, Google them!

4: WHAT I’M GETTING SICK-AND-TIRED OF – WHERE DO I EVEN START?

Grocery anxiety. Coming up with a strategy for shopping at Whole Foods each week consumes a good part of my day. Do I need to be there at 7:45 am so that I can get in on the tail end of seniors’ shopping hour? What’s the right time to avoid waiting in line now that they only let 50 people in the store at any given moment? Figuring out the best day of the week to get milk and yogurt. Will the fish counter be staffed on Sunday? What new rules have they come up with for checkout? It’s stressful!

Skype TV – at first it was a novelty to see all the journalists reporting from their homes. After a few weeks, however, the charm has worn off. I’m over those glitchy connections, bad sound, people lost mid-interview, kids babbling while their moms or dads are trying to fill us in on the stock market or the latest breaking coronavirus news. I know some people find this homey, DIY-style of reporting endearing, I do not!

People wearing masks while being interviewed – I know they’re trying to set a good example but I can’t hear a damn thing when they’re covering up their mouths.

Gofundme campaigns for restaurants and bars I’ve never patronized.

Walmart.com and amazon.com being out of stock on all my household basics, e.g., toilet paper, paper towels, raisin bran cereal.

Working from home – I want to be at Ludlow House.

Clapping for doctors and nurses while we have them bear the brunt of all kinds of indignities. I’ve been riled up ever since I heard about that Upper West Side co-op that kicked out a pulmonary specialist who had come to NYC to volunteer and was planning to stay at his brother’s co-op. It just struck me as hypocritical to clap and cheer while this kind of nonsense was allowed to go on. Or when a shopper called the police on two women who were wearing medical scrubs and masks at a grocery store in Florida. The women wear scrubs because they work at a hearing aid practice but this woman insisted they were transmitting the virus.

Our hypocritical, whiny mayor who orders us to wear masks anytime we’re outdoors but then has a convoy of SUVs drive him 12 miles to Brooklyn so he and his wife can walk in Prospect Park – with neither wearing any kind of a face covering.

Crying wolf and whipping up hysteria. Another Mayor Bill de Blasio habit e.g., ranting about lives being lost if he doesn’t get at least 15,000 ventilators, then having to admit, we needed far fewer.

Similarly, claiming NYC would start burying coronavirus victims in city parks! This came in a tweet from City Councilman Mark Levine.

Soon we’ll start “temporary interment”. This likely will be done by using a NYC park for burials. Trenches will be dug for 10 caskets in a line.

It will be done in a dignified, orderly–and temporary–manner.

Mark D. Levine (@MarkLevineNYC) April 6, 2020

Cuomo put the kibosh on that idea fast!

The White House’s daily press briefings. I can’t take it, and I don’t watch it.

The only press briefing I watch religiously is Andrew Cuomo’s. And every day as I watch and he calms me down, I thank my lucky stars I’m watching Cuomo, not Cynthia Nixon (the actress who ran for Governor in 2018)!

People taking advantage of coronavirus to skip out on paying their rent WHEN they actually have jobs and an income. One-third of Americans did not pay their April rent. As a former landlord myself, I know it would drive me crazy to know that my tenants had the means to pay but used the coronavirus crisis to avoid their obligations. Karma is a bitch is all I can say to those deadbeats.

That odd feeling of retirement. Try as I might, I have very little in the way of structure in my life at the moment. I still get up at the same time and I work out but everything is slower and I feel less productive. I know I should be leaning-into these leisurely days. I’m not even writing much – mainly due to the fact that people are only interested in coronavirus-related stories at the moment. And I can only handle writing so many of those.

And finally, CBS posted this sobbing nurse story which got millions of “likes” and views. Bernie Sanders even quoted it (while he was still running), but it turns out the whole thing is a lie, this girl is an Instagram influencer type (she’s now taken down her Instagram account).

If we can’t rely on supposedly legit media to check stories before posting them to their millions of viewers, we are in deep trouble. Having to turn to Snopes to check out Trump is one thing, having to verify CBS’s stories is something else entirely.

5. Coronavirus is a wake-up call to get serious about our health

The most recent data on 4,700 New York coronavirus deaths shows that 86% had underlying illnesses and 61% were men.

In addition, 63% of the deaths were among those aged 70 and older, while 7% of the cases were 49 and younger.

And 4,089 of those who died had at least one other chronic disease:

  • The leading underlying illness was hypertension, which showed up in 55% of the deaths.
  • Next was diabetes, which was diagnosed in 1,755 deaths, or about 37% of the cases.
  • Other top illnesses found in those who died from coronavirus were hyperlipidemia (an abnormally high concentration of fats or lipids in the blood); coronary artery disease; renal disease and dementia.

In other words, we need to start eating healthier, we have to stay physically active, and with over 40% of Americans now obese, most of us can probably stand to lose a few pounds!

Bottom Line.

NOBODY really knows how this will play out, but even the most optimistic projections indicate it’s going to be a long slog before things get back to normal.

It will take minimally 1 year (but probably closer to 2) before we have a vaccine. Once that happens we’ll have to see if Americans get vaccinated – or if – as with the flu shot, only 50% chose to protect themselves (and us).

When it comes to the economy, some smart people are noting how previous crises have seen the emergence of major technological innovations. I would venture to say the same may be true with this pandemic. I fully expect we’ll see many traditional services and industries go “next level” when it comes to becoming fully digital, e.g., telemedicine, online schooling.

And finally, I would not be at all surprised if some business owners go rogue and open up their businesses well before the government gives us the all-clear (as per Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert).

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