In December 2019 Chinese authorities detected a new outbreak of coronavirus. This one ws officially named SARS-CoV-2, and it causes the disease COVID-19. The virus is spreading too quickly for me to write an accurate number of its victims, but you can Google today’s numbers.
It was on December 31, 2019 when China alerted the WHO to an unknown virus in Wuhan, a port city. Some of the sick people worked in a seafood market, which authorities shut down the very next day. The WHO reports that China announced that they had identified the virus as one belonging to the coronavirus family, which includes SARS and the common cold.
On January 11, China announced its first death from the virus, and on January 13, WHO reported a case in Thailand. On January 16, Japan reported a case. Most of the world thought it merely curious when Beijing cancelled events for their Lunar New Year on January 22, followed by Hong Kong 2 days later. Most of the world paid little attention to the virus in Asia.
Before the end of January, cases of coronavirus began to pop up in the USA, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan and South Korea. By January 30, India and the Philippines confirmed their first cases of the virus. On January 31, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom confirmed their own first cases. On February 1, cases were confirmed in Australia, Canada, Germany, Singapore, the UAE and Vietnam. Both citizens and authorities began to sit up and take notice. On January 30, the WHO declared coronavirus a global emergency.
On February 7, Li Wenliang, a doctor who was among the first to sound the alarm over coronavirus, died from the virus, and on that same day Hong Kong announced prison sentences for anyone breaking quarantine rules.
By February 10, the death toll in China had overtaken that of the 2002-03 SARS epidemic, with 8,096 deaths recorded and 40,561 infections.
On Valentine’s Day, Egypt became the first country in Africa to report a case, and France reported Europe’s first death from the virus.
On February 19, Iran reported its first cases, and on that same day confirmed two deaths from the virus.
Two days later, Israel reported its first case and then on February 24, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Afghanistan and Oman all reported their first cases of the virus. Those of us who were following the trajectory of the virus began to consult maps frequently.The virus continued to spread easily and sustainably; on February 26, Romania, Greece, Georgia, Pakistan, North Macedonia and Brazil all detected their first cases of the coronavirus.
The pace accelerated; Estonia, Denmark, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands reported their first coronavirus cases the next day. Lithuania and Wales followed.
On Leap Year Day, Qatar confirmed the first case in their country. The virus began to spread in the Middle East as Saudi Arabia announced its first case, followed by Tunisia and Jordan.
In Iran, one of the worst-hit countries, recently-elected MP Fatemeh Rahbar died from the coronavirus, waking up virus news watchers around the world.
On March 11, the same day that Turkey, Ivory Coast, Honduras and Bolivia confirmed their first cases, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
Somalia confirmed its first case on March 16, the same day that Chile and Guatemala announced that they were closing their borders to contain coronavirus.
Find the Republic of Gambia, almost entirely surrounded by Senegal
On March 17, The Gambia reported its first case, sending some of us back to maps to find out where it was. We began to wonder where the Coronavirus hadn’t hit.
The numbers change too quickly for me to report how many confirmed cases there are worldwide, how many countries have been affected as of this writing, and how many deaths. You will need to Google those numbers on the CDC site. But just so you know, as of this writing the Republic of Palau, Fiji, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Botswana and Syria are all virus-free so far.
The Pandemic will die out as soon as it no longer has enough susceptible people to infect. Hopefully, science will have developed more because of this outbreak, citizens will be more willing to do their part to contain such outbreaks, and no one will lose their newly developed hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
But besides learning where to *cough and sneeze in the correct places, it might be just as important for people to have learned to advantages of social distancing and enjoying all the things they have equipped their homes with but don’t really get their money’s worth out of. If we are smart, the new normal will be to actually get into the habit of using our home gyms, our home offices, our pools, verandas, hot tubs and entertainment centers. We will finally learn to use all the recourses on our smart phones and smart TVs before we trade them in for newer models. We might even get away from using shopping malls less when we need a mood boost or to stimulate our senses of pleasure.
We could also begin to support small neighborhood businesses more, businesses that care about the well-being of the neighborhood and hopefully will employ people who live in the community. This will create a stronger sense of community, improve our neighborhoods and guarantee conveniences near our homes. This might also lead to going back to helping out our neighbors as communities used to do.
There is a telling story about Margaret Mead, the renowned American culture anthropologist. A student once asked her what the earliest signs of civilization were. The student, of course, expected her to say a grinding stone or a clay pot. But much to the student’s surprise, Ms. Mead answer, “a healed femur.” She then went on to explain that non-healed femurs are signs of the law of the jungle. A skeleton with a healed femur means that someone cared for that long-gone pre-historic ancestor of ours and showed compassion. If we want it to, the imprint this Pandemic could leave would be greater compassion among our species.
Schools have closed down all over the world. Around here, most are simply closed. But why couldn’t this Pandemic be used to set up online classes? In the beginning, it wouldn’t have to be a full course load, but could be at least enough to make sure students stay engaged, focused and to keep their sense of responsibility alive and healthy. In the future, online courses that are developed during this crises could be used for students who are out sick for extended periods, or during the countless labor strikes that close schools in Brazil.
Another positive shift that might come out of Pandemic that has not only closed schools, but also borders and even cities, is that we might learn to be a bit more independent and reactivate investments in food security. Food security means a lot of things, but at this moment we should look at the core of the term which is that each country or region needs a sustainable food system that does not rely so much on imports and consequently suffer the burdens of foreign government sanctions and embargoes. It might also be time to rethink globalization, which has been very positive in the past, but has recently brought about unpredictable demands. Food security, of course, is not the only part of globalization we could rethink; countries should reevaluate investments in their own natural resources and smart agriculture.
Brazil is a good example of a country that could better live up to its potential. After Canada and the United States, it has the greatest diversity of technological industry in the Americas. There is nothing that Brazil cannot manufacture. And compared to China, Brazil has a manageable population. How-ever, it has a weak infrastructure, notoriously high interest rates, a high crime rate, and a culture of corruption on just about every level. By pulling together during the Coronavirus crises and acquiring new habits in our personal lives and communities, we citizens could very well form a more unified population that would demand more of ourselves and our government. The key term is pulling together.
I was born near the end of WWII and raised in a small town in New Jersey, just a little more than a 30-minute drive from NYC. It was a wonderful place to be brought up, feeding ducks and canoeing on the river that meandered through the town in the summer, and ice-skating on that same river in the winter.
My two brothers and I were privileged to be raised in a lovely town that was safe to explore on foot, but close enough to NYC to be taken there on day trips to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Baily B & B circus, museums, Chinatown, street fairs in the spring and Broadway shows as we grew older. But we thought nothing of it.
Later as teens, we would go into NYC to buy a couple of beers (the drinking age in New York State was 18, and 21 in New Jersey) and hang out in Greenwich Village where we saw singers such as Bob Dylan who were on the first rung of the ladder on their way to fame.
The sixties were a time of speaking out and creating change. I decided to do my part by joining the Peace Corps, an innovative cold war program established by John F. Kennedy in 1961. I arrived in Brazil at the end of 1966, and after an adaptation period, was sent to serve in Porto Nacional, in what was Goias at that time. I can’t say I changed the course of the country, especially as I was immediately called upon to teach English in the local high school.
I have been teaching ever since; high schools, college literature, college language pedagogy, financial English and everything in-between. I married a wonderful Brazilian from Rio and we had 3 boys and moved around some, as he was an engineer who worked on hydro dams. Nowadays I am a widow and live in BH with 3 cats, one of which has extraordinary powers, and I have 4 wonderful and uniquely different grandchildren nearby. Thus far, I have had an interesting life, and this new endeavor called a blog should make it even more interesting.
The word cliffhanger comes from cliffs. Duh. Cliffs are vertical, or nearly vertical, rocks that have been formed by erosion and weathering. There are lots of famous cliffs, but the first ones that come to my mind are the White Cliffs of Dover, probably because there was a popular World War II song about them that was part of my childhood, and also because they are on the historical English coastline.
When one thinks of cliffhangers, England and its gothic novels always come to mind. Cliffhangers are the kind of story, book or movie that uses suspense either at the end of an episode or a scene. A good example was the way the final episode of Game of Thrones, season 5, was done. Jon Snow was dead. Or was he? Those of us who sweated it out until season 6 was aired were never really sure. The writers used old-fashioned melodrama, suspense and uncertainty, and the audience was left as if hanging from a cliff in a state of tension and apprehension. And that’s a true cliffhanger.
This part of the blog will not be able to offer any nail-biting cliffhangers, but it will have classes in series, and I hope they will be interesting enough that you will want to come back and read what happens next, even if you don’t lose sleep anticipating the next chapter. Enjoy.
You can plate appetizers on or in many things. Fill in the blanks with on or in: Deviled eggs a platter Figs with bacon a plate Spinach & Yogurt dip a bowl Bacon, lettuce & tomatoes toothpicks Chicken croquettes napkins Oysters with turkey bacon a tiered cake plate Cold cuts a breadboard Raw veggies & dips a Lazy Susan Cheese…
Blackberries – Blueberries – Raspberries – Strawberries Nutritious food is nourishing and efficient as food in the sense that it gives you the sufficient amount of nutrients such as vitamins, carbohydrates and proteins that you need to survive. Healthy food is food that promotes good health, in other words, prevents illness and keeps you younger longer. I. All of the berries above are healthy and nutritious. However, according to nutritional content, total carbohydrates,…
King Henry VIII’s royal stool I love to learn new things about the English language and was very pleased to learn on a recent trip to London that the British royals used to call their toilet rooms “places of easement”. When I visited King Henry VIII’s palace I found out that he used to sit on top of a padded chair on what…
Summer is ending in Brazil, and for those who spent it on a Brazilian beach, we might need a post-summer diet. The best street food in Brazil is not found on the streets, but instead on the beaches. Brazilian beaches are a festival of delicious, fattening food, sold by friendly vendors who walk along the beach for uncountable kilometers each day. These vendors get a lot of exercise,…