800 people died in Italy on Saturday. 6500 new cases of covid-19 were identified. People have dead corpses in their homes and army trucks are driving around towns picking up bodies, which they have nowhere to put, except to burn them in crematoriums. The country, like many others around the world, is in lockdown—everything shut down, people kept inside and their movements strictly regulated. Martial Law, essentially. In the southern United States people are lining up outside grocery stores around the parking lot, and buying up groceries. Some people visit multiple stores in multiple towns to stockpile as much as they can for themselves. People are worried about their right to hang with their homies and also that they arm themselves with enough guns and ammo. I fail to grasp the stockpiling—you can’t eat all that food when you’re dying of viral pneumonia. I fail to grasp the obsession with guns—you can’t defeat viral pneumonia with firepower. Ah, but ya can’t tell the Americans a thing, they have all the answers, leading the free world and all.
We have all seen the pictures of young people on spring break, insistent upon having their beach holidays in the midst of a global viral pneumonia plague which WHO has declared a pandemic. We have the bougie packing up their families into their SUVs and heading out of the city for rural getaways, flooding villages and small towns that lack any real acute care capacity—maybe each small county has one hospital with 3 ICU beds and 10 ventilators and no health care professionals equipped or trained or specialised to treat the level of acuity the virus creates. In the UK a similar scenario executes itself—utter complacency as people keep going to pubs, bars, and gathering in all manner of public places. Others still get in their caravans and travel to small villages.
All this, despite the directives by WHO and all public health and medical officials and front line workers to implement and vigilantly practise social distancing and limit travel to necessities. Despite the reports that front line workers in Italy have died from the virus. Despite the report that we lack sufficient supplies of PPE (personal protective equipment) and that members of the general public are using PPE somewhat liberally despite having no training in their use. Despite the reports that we lack the ICU capacity, that we lack sufficient supplies of ventilators and ICU trained nurses and RTs required to treat and care for covid-19 patients. And we have this ridiculous notion that infecting the population will somehow create herd immunity. Um, we have no treatment or vaccine, and epidemiologically, we can only achieve herd immunity through vaccinating the populace.
In my own city of Vancouver, a town notorious for its left coast wokeness and focus on inclusivity and tolerance—a place where self appointed social justice activists shut down the West Coast Express, the Canada Line and championed the stoppage of commuting, of ports and transportation in the name of battling the threat of pipelines—people are treating this time like siesta vacay time as they congregate at English Bay, Kits Beach, White Rock Beach and other places. Regardless of the camera angle of these photographs, I see no social distancing happening in these scenes of happy complacent left coast people pretending that a plague hasn’t come to wipe out a large swath of humanity and destroy society.
I have to wonder where all the social justice warriors are now. I mean, this is sort of extinction and I think we need a rebellion against self-interested arrogant entitlement and selfish disregard in order to fight this virus. I don’t see it. Where are all the social justice warriors now? Is covid-19 not microaggressive enough for y’all? I mean, this IS literal biological violence right here—800 people dying in one day. And to boot, this thing is sexist as fcuk, it infects and kills more male humans than female humans. Imagine that, covid-19 has the unmitigated gall to completely gloss over identity and that sex-is-a-spectrum bollocks. It’s almost like we have been sexually reproducing, sexually dimorphic creatures all along! Who knew?
And I can’t shake this feeling that it’s almost like there were actually far more important issues to address than plastic bag and straw bans and cancelling school on Friday so the church of greta could gather and scream really loudly and tell themselves they were fighting for change. Suddenly the homeless and drug-addled folks of the DTES warrant actual attention and care. Interesting how that works huh? When the elite face a threat they realise they are only as strong as the structure upon which their society has erected itself—that happens to be the homeless and drug-addled and poor: all those who have nowhere to socially distance or isolate or quarantine, who cannot stay home from work because they have no sick leave or benefits and live hand to mouth on paltry wages they receive daily. They don’t practise the greatest hygiene habits, typically aren’t in the habit of washing their hands for instance. They lack access to proper nutrition and shelter and live with multiple forms of severe trauma—homelessness is a form of trauma, btw—and chronic illness. This population, this area of the city is the ticking epidemiological time bomb.
How did we get here? Why has the situation in the DTES been allowed to devolve to such a state? Simple answer: because we as a society don’t give a fcuk about the homeless/poor/drug-addled/disadvantaged. Still we don’t actually care. I mean, would the city be taking any steps to house people like it is if it weren’t for the threat of covid-19? Of course not. Don’t ever forget that the DTES serves a purpose which is why there really won’t ever be an honest and authentic effort to eradicate the forces that have come together to create it’s devastation.
As I look around at the world crumbling I feel like this is a kind of autumn. When the leaves change and fall to the ground, when plants die back and grown dormant for the wintering. Perhaps we are preparing for our own wintering. Remember the famous line winter is coming? How prophetic the Game of Thrones series, huh? A few days ago we all thought this would last two weeks and life would resume as normal. Now I think the sombreness and severity of the situation facing humanity has finally sunk in—this wintering of society will last months. Staring us in the face, up close and personal, are consequences of all the unwise, hasty, self-centred, elitist decisions human collectives have made. Wherever you go, there you are. Here we are. Looking in a mirror we have named covid-19. Do you like what you see? What will you do about it?