March 26, 2020 Covid
There’s an online dashboard you can visit, documenting the cases of coronavirus in real time. It shows a world map that’s rapidly populating with dramatic red dots, and each morning I log on, check the ever-rising numbers and remind myself that each one stands for a human, somewhere in the world, infected with this strange virus we had never even heard about half a year ago.
Today we passed half a million infections, with the US rapidly closing in on China as the nation with the most reported cases.
“Most people don’t understand exponential growth”, a doctor had written in an op-ed for The Guardian, and I’m certainly one of those people: I simply can’t wrap my head around these steeps curves, and my mind turns to small, private worries instead. Will the economic slowdown mean my business collapses onto itself? Will my favorite cafés and sports places survive? What does this mean for the everlasting search for an apartment? In the grand scheme of things, all that seems rather insignificant, but these days it seems as though the mind needs something to worry about, however small.
The biggest question: How long will all of this go on?
A few days of social distancing are not just ok but really “quite meditative” as Michi has put it: For the first time in recent memory we manage to plan out our grocery shopping and limit it to one thoughtful trip to the supermarket a week. We bake bread. We eat all the leftovers, even obsessively cook down broccoli stems to broth. It feels as though someone has hit the pause button on our regular lives, and it makes us rethink many of the strange, devil-may-care customs we have acquired over a few years of living in Berlin.
But another few months? That seems almost has hard to understand as those rapidly growing curves.