Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 24 2021

Level 3, Week 1

We’ve been at Level 3, which is kinda lockdown-ish in that people are encouraged to stay at home, no in-restaurant dining, that kind of thing, for a week or so now. There’s still hundreds of new cases a day, but so far truly frightening exponential growth hasn’t been apparent…that might be due to the low number of tests being done, though. In any case, people were especially encouraged to not go out during the weekend, and we won’t see the results of that until next week, when we decide whether to continue with Level 3 or do a true lockdown with Level 4, the highest level. The 28th is supposed to be the day that is decided. Will this work? We’ll see.

I did go out over the weekend, as I have yet to master L’art du Food Panda, but I stayed away from other people as much as possible. This was easy, as Bitan was nearly empty of the usual tourists as well as most of the locals. The one glaring omission was, of course, the groups of older men gathering, unmasked, to sit together all day, be it down on the river bank fishing or up at the shop beyond the temple, sitting on the playground equipment that is now festooned with yellow tape, chatting away, blissfully endangering lives because they truly DGAF about other people. If you look at the districts where spread is rampant, it’s obvious to anyone who knows this city that those districts tend to be places with older-type neighborhoods, markets and corners where older people tend to just hang out. And older people are more likely to be seriously affected by it.

So, it seems that the asshats that were out here in these streets back during SARS are still here, minus the ones that died of it back then. The thing is, SARS, while a more deadly disease, was not as easily transmissible as Covid. I’ve long wondered how much of our good fortune that lasted up until recently was due to luck, and how much was good governance. Now it’s come to light that a certain legislator with no background in medical science pushed to let airline pilots get away with only a few days in quarantine, as the behest of the pilots union. This person should get jail time at the very least, IMO.

Then again, “winging it” has been part of this culture since time began, so I’m not terribly surprised, now that we’ve been caught up in this thing, that we’ve wasted a great deal of the head start we had. Soldiers are out spraying the streets, FFS, when it’s a well-known fact that surface transmission isn’t really a thing; it’s keeping people from infecting others via proximity/time that needs to be addressed. But for a nation that underwent 38 years of martial law, there is a hesitancy to bring down the hammer too hard, which is understandable (the KMT has its own disturbing ideas on the subject, unsurprisingly).

I’d prefer to work from home, but since mine is technically a government-adjacent position, I’ve been traveling to and from Ximen Station every weekday on the MRT, double masked and sitting by myself if possible. My office only has two other people in it, but who knows what is lurking on the corridors beyond our door. At least we have our own air conditioning unit. Lunch and dinner I take home (now I’m wishing I’d gotten a new TV, alas, but hindsight is 20/20). My computer screen is full of doom and gloom; the expat community, at least those that after over a year of covid-free life aren’t fucking back to their vaccinated homelands, are full of the usual fact-free opinions.

As I’ve said before, I’m willing to get the vaccine, preferably a Pfizer or Moderna, but I’d settle for AZ I guess, but the government needs to streamline the vaccination process with extreme prejudice. It’s far, far too complicated at this point, and the misinformation concerning vaccines here is off the charts, resulting in such hesitancy, and the government seems unable to procure even close to enough of them. They’re certainly not talking about it, and the media barely mentions the issue. My friend Brian Hioe over at New Bloom has been doing excellent work in issuing updates on the issue, as well as working to help the significant homeless community in Wanhua, where he lives. Wanhua was the epicenter of the current wave, as anyone who knows Wanhua would not be surprised to hear. Crowded, older buildings, older population, a certain laissez-faire attitude towards rules…it’s always been special, and those attributes make it especially vulnerable. It’s easy to feel a sense of helplessness in the face of preventable tragedies like this, but I suppose all we can do as individuals is just try to keep on keeping on, as it were.

In any case, Taiwan tried to warn everyone about covid, but nobody listened. Now that other countries have been ravaged and managed to get vaccines, we’re asking for help, but again, nobody’s listening. The U.S. is opening up, masks off, party party, and since U.S. media dominates the global conversation, covid has ceased to be the issue that it once was, even though an untold number of people are still getting it and dying of it. It’s become an “other people’s problem” issue, I’m afraid. Which is of course how it started, as well as how it has become so serious.

Every day at 2 p.m. the CDC has a press conference with the day’s infection numbers, and every day everyone is on edge waiting to see if the numbers are skyrocketing. Everyone, that is, except the groups of old men on the street corners.

posted by Poagao at 11:26 am  

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