April 17, 2020 Covid
I have more or less stopped reading the news. Not only because, as a friend put it, everything has been written about coronavirus, but also because the numbers have stopped meaning much to me. You reach a point at which they‘re just figures on a page, the curves seem like they will go up forever, and it‘s easier to track the world‘s events within our own little, changing reality.
Back in 2016, The Guardian had a project that was the last big undertaking of its then-Editor in Chief Alan Rusbridger: A reporting challenge on Climate Change. I‘m not sure the project changed much in the grand scheme of things, but it was interesting as it tried to find new ways of addressing a long-term Problem through journalistic means. On the accompanying podcast Rusbridger had said that journalism was really good at reporting on breaking news, but really bad at more slow-paced events—like a melting glacier or, well, a global pandemic.
I have socially-distanced lunch with Michi, who comes by my empty office and accompanies me, at a safe distance, to the Mexican restaurant across the street. Take-out food is still allowed in Germany, and so we get our meals, sit down at the outside tables of a closed pizza joint and start dripping salsa absolutely everywhere. Michi listens to podcasts with virologists, he is steeped in coronavirus news, and so he catches me up on the latest: With restrictions going away, experts are now worried about a second wave of infections that will make the first seem like small potatoes, resigning us to a couple extra months of quarantine. Someone on Twitter writes “The second lockdown after the relaxed rules is surely going to be great for all of us.”
We get up to walk around the block, get a coffee from another place down the road, and learn that the virus is in fact leading to something previously unimaginable: German places have started mandating card payments. If even that is possible, then a covid vaccine must surely be in the cards as well.