NYC Coronavirus Update #3: Now In The Hunkering Down Phase

Flatten the curve” made more sense to me than almost anything else I’ve read or heard about this virus. It finally got me to stop whining about how bored I was and inspired me to get busy filling this time of solitude with things that are productive and fun.

What’s life been like recently?

I’ve been quasi-hunkered down ever since I returned from my travels but I was still able to go to the gym every day and go out to eat. I even got beautified with one last pedicure and one last round of hair color before my salons closed (temporarily I hope).

But then last Thursday, the city and the state clamped down. That’s when the mood changed from “OK, really?” to “Holy shit, WTF!” Announcements were released by the hour of EVERYTHING closing, from Broadway shows to restaurants/bars to sporting events. Even retailers like Apple and Nike shut down.

So after being grumpy for the last week, I’m now taking the bull by the horns and creating a new, albeit monastic, life for myself in the age of coronavirus.

I also came across these notes from a recent Goldman Sachs investors’ call that not only provide the best analysis of the coronavirus situation, they also provide perspective and give me hope that this too will pass. Worth reading in its entirety but key takeaways below:

  • 50% of Americans will contract the virus (150m people) as it’s very communicable. This is on a par with the common cold (Rhinovirus) of which there are about 200 strains and of which the majority of Americans will get 2-4 per year.
  • Peak-virus is expected over the next eight weeks, declining thereafter.
  • Of those impacted 80% will be early-stage, 15% mid-stage and 5% critical-stage. Early-stage symptoms are like the common cold and mid-stage symptoms are like the flu; these are stay at home for two weeks and rest. 5% will be critical and highly weighted towards the elderly.
  • Mortality rate on average of up to 2%, again, heavily weighted towards the elderly and immunocompromised; meaning up to 3m people (150m*.02). In the US about 3m/yr die mostly due to old age and disease, those two being highly correlated. There will be significant overlap, so this does not mean 3m new deaths from the virus, it means elderly people dying sooner due to respiratory issues. This may however stress the healthcare system. [Not the best news for those of us over 70 but a strong warning that we need to be particularly vigilant about self-isolation.]
  • There will be economic damage from the virus itself, but the real damage is driven mostly by market psychology. Stock markets should fully recover in the 2nd half of the year.
Scroll down for 10 ways to turn self-isolation into a healthy, entertaining, and educational experience.
1. Morning Online Workout or more accurately, Work-In

Planet Fitness Home WorkIn. This is an absolute godsend. Super fun and created for at-home workouts without any equipment. It’s a 20-minute regimen. I’m also checking out other workouts to keep it interesting. If you have any favorites, send my way (no yoga please).

My at-home gym
2. The Dave Konig Show daily on Facebook Live! Link here.

Dave had a standup show scheduled for Don’t Tell Mama for this coming Sunday. Of course, it was cancelled. But Dave cannot be stopped by any old virus. He moved his act to Facebook Live. Every day (Mon to Fri) at 6pm EST. He will provide 15 minutes of hilarity for the duration of this shutdown! And he’s laugh-out-loud funny (even when he runs into technical difficulties). Watch it! It will be the highlight of your day. It is of mine!

3. Blinkist books – plowing thru 2 per day.

I have an annual subscription ($99) which provides access to over 4000 non-fiction books. I’ve written about this before. Highly recommend even when we are not in self-isolation.

Today I have three books on the agenda:

4. I’ve been cooking up a storm. Happy to see I still have it!

Made one of my favorite chili recipes which just gets better by the day. And I also discovered a new, easy-to-make, flatbread recipe. It’s made with Naan bread, hummus, pomegranate seeds, arugula, cherry tomatoes and feta cheese. DELICIOUS!

5. But I’m also supporting local restaurants!

Starting today I will be ordering in one meal per day – either lunch or dinner from local favorites. I recognize that take-out orders are not going to keep restaurants in business for the long haul but I am hopeful this disaster will be behind us within 8 – 10 weeks.

6. Google Arts & Culture.

I had checked this out previously but didn’t fully appreciate it until I found myself cooped up at home.

Virtual museum exploration, a safe alternative to physical attendance, has taken on new significance in light of the first post-internet pandemic. Google Arts & Culture, the online platform dedicated to providing public access to the collections of some of the world’s most preeminent art museums, developed by Google, has partnered with over 500 global art institutions to open their virtual doors to the public. With the ability to go between the National Folk Museum of Korea in Seoul to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles in a matter of seconds, one can ‘travel’ the world to walk through world-famous destinations in a manner never before possible in human history using the same technology developed for the equally impressive Street View feature in Google Maps.

The Architect’s Newspaper

I’m also staying tapped into the art world through individual galleries’ online viewing rooms. Some are better than others. At the moment, I would say David Zwirner has the best virtual viewing rooms of all the Chelsea galleries. Currently on view: James Welling “Pathological Color”

But none of it holds a candle to seeing art in person – but that is not available to us at the moment. Soon again, I hope.

7. Skype TV?

In the interest of social distancing, TV business channels, e.g., CNBC and Bloomberg, have turned to broadcasting with only one anchor in the studio, while all others dial in from home. And that works about as well you’d imagine. Just like my friend Dave Konig on FB Live, major broadcasters are experiencing “technical difficulties” galore.

8. Daily Discoveries: BBC Future

I’m spending a lot of time googling and adding great finds to my custom trend sources. BBC Future is an absolute gem. Highly recommend you follow them on twitter or add yourself to their email list.

Just read this fascinating article (in the link above) on how our personality changes as we age. Apparently, as we get older, we do get better.

For example:

  • We become more conscientious and agreeable, and less neurotic. The levels of the “Dark Triad” personality traits, Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy also tend to go down – and with them, our risk of antisocial behaviors such as crime and substance abuse.
  • We develop into more altruistic and trusting individuals. Our willpower increases and we develop a better sense of humor.
  • Finally, the elderly have more control over their emotions. It’s arguably a winning combination – and one which suggests that the stereotype of older people as grumpy and curmudgeonly needs some revision.
  • Far from being fixed in childhood, or around the age of 30 – as experts thought for years – it seems that our personalities are fluid and malleable. People become nicer and more socially adapted, per the researchers. Older people are increasingly able to balance their own expectations of life with societal demands.
9. I’m posting way too many cat videos but people seem to like them.

This is one of my favorites.

10. And finally, thankfully, I have a good supply of wine.

But wine may be passé. All the cool people seem to be into virtual Happy Hours. Hope some of my friends organize and include me soon!!

Bottom Line.

It’s day by day for me. Yesterday was a good day because I started the online workout and I managed to take a lovely walk in the afternoon. The weather was gorgeous.

I’m coming to grips with the fact that this will be a long, drawn-out affair but I am starting to see information being provided that is more measured.

For me, personally, I’m most concerned about the economy righting itself so that we don’t end up with a 20% unemployment rate.

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