Tag Archives: COVID-19

Another day in the time of Covid

img_2079Feeding  the cats was first on the agenda this morning.

I was hungrier than usual, so I took time that I usually don’t, to make myself a cappuccino and a slice of buttered olive bread. Then laundry, then a Zoom call.

A friend was coming for lunch at noon. We had planned to sit outside, social distancing, of course, but the summer sun has given way to autumn chill. We would have to improvise a Covid-safe setting indoors.

We began to prepare a pizza rustica, one of my husband’s specialties. He makes the filling, and I do the crust. Unless it’s a very special occasion, I don’t make the crust from scratch. I let the bottom crust thaw a little, then pierced it all over, intending to blind-bake it.. An idea came to me for a new way to make the crust hold its shape. I set an empty pie pan on the raw crust, and in lieu of pie weights (mine had disappeared), I sprinkled the pan with pebbles I’d collected on the beach.

Meanwhile, I began making a chocolate mousse with a recipe I found last night. Wonder of wonders, it had only two ingredients, bittersweet chocolate and water, and the author, Melissa Clark, assured me that it would take all of 10 minutes.

Right.

First, I had to break the block of chocolate into pieces that would melt in the water. Do you know how hard a block of chocolate is? I began to chop last night and made some headway with a hammer. My husband had a better idea. He used a knife as a chisel and was much more successful. In the morning, I combined the water and chocolate, put it on the stove and hoped it would be okay on its own while I took care of the pie crusts. I prepared two bowls, a large one with ice and a second, smaller bowl inside. Though Melissa said the chocolate would melt quickly while being constantly whisked, mine was pokey. We should have chopped the chocolate into even smaller pieces.IMG_1396

The bottom crust held its shape beautifully. I assembled the pie, filling it with the eggs, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and tiny pieces of soppressata that my husband had prepared. I gingerly placed and sealed the top crust and slipped it into the oven. By this time, it was 11:30, and our guest was due at 12. The pie usually bakes for at least an hour and has to rest for another 10-15 minutes.

Back on the stove, the chocolate was still lumpy. I continued to whisk. Finally, it was smooth, ready to be whisked in the cold bowl that was waiting for it. I whisked and I whisked, this time using an electric immersion blender. It was tedious work, though the chocolate smelled wonderful. When it failed to become thick and fluffy, I melted more chocolate as Melissa suggested. While it was melting, the beaten chocolate in the cold bowl hardened. It clearly had to be melted again. Using the bowl as the top of a double boiler, I stirred and stirred until the chocolate liquified and showed no remaining lumps. By then, it was 12 o’clock. Out with the electric whisk. Again. This time, the chocolate gained close to the right consistency.

I filled the first dessert cup. Looked fine. For the second one, I realized I had to remove the bowl from the ice and work very quickly. The chocolate was a little thicker and harder. For the third, I had to dig into the stiff chocolate with the spoon. The leftover chocolate was very solid.

The pizza rustica was in the oven for an hour and a quarter. By then, it was close to 1:00. Our guest must have forgotten or scrambled the date or was very late.

Much later, she called and apologized profusely. She told me the date was on her calendar, but she forgot to look. I laughed. I’ve done that too.

My husband and I enjoyed a delicious lunch, followed by the virtual activities we are obliged do in the time of Covid.

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Filed under Food, Personal

It Matters, 7 o’clock cheering

Andy Newman, New York Times

I left the city a few weeks ago to eke out the shelter-in-place mandate where I can take long walks without wearing a mask or having to worry much about social distancing. Far from the city, it’s easy to maintain a safe distance from the few people I encounter outdoors.

Though I realize how lucky I am to be able to do this, I miss the city, especially at 7 p.m. I used to set the alarm for 6:55 every evening so we wouldn’t accidentally miss the time when New York opens its windows to cheer, clap and crash pots and pans. We thank and show our appreciation to health care workers and all the others who risk their lives to perform the essential services that make it possible for the rest of us to quarantine ourselves safely at home.

CIMEDICALCENTER.org

Even though we could barely hear or see our neighbors from the 35th floor, we joined the chorus in the hope that the intended audience would feel our support and recognition of their selfless service.

My alarm still rings daily to remind me that it is 7:00 and New York is cheering. But now, even farther away from neighbors who could hear and be heard, I give thanks in silence.

Tonight I read a post on the Upper West Side Nextdoor blog that affected me deeply. I still have tears in my eyes. I hope Julie Brickman won’t mind that I repost it here:

Tonight, as I was standing at my open balcony window at 7 o’clock, clapping and cheering as the health care workers returned home from their long 12-hour shifts, risking their lives to save ours, a young man in shorts stopped to talk to me. My balcony is only one story up and the window is 8-feet high and leads onto a little Juliet balcony, so everyone can see me there; sometimes people shout something from their cars or give me thumbs up in return.

But tonight, this young man left me in tears.

“I think I’m one of the people this is for,” he said. “And I want to tell you how much it means to me.”

I was stunned. So little to give for all that he’s doing, and yet I can’t stop crying. I wish I could tell him how deep is the gratitude in my heart to see such dedication and bravery at a time when there is so much else that I won’t name, because I’m not going to stain the wonder of this moment, of seeing the kind of humanity I have admired and respected all my life, standing in front of me and speaking with heartfelt gratitude about the decency he feels coming from all of us, locked down in this “joyless” city, yet showing up from our diverse solitudes to cheer those who are using their skills, energy, heart and moral courage on our behalf.

I thought it was worth sharing with all of you who are cheering too.

Yes, there is decency out there. Yes, I had the chance to see it tonight. Yes, it made a difference.

It made me believe in the long arc again; of justice or “what love looks like in public,” and especially of goodness. It made me believe we will survive this and create, if not a better world, at least a decent one again.

All I want to say is: Bless this health care worker who spoke out. Bless everyone who is helping get us through. Bless Upper West Siders and New Yorkers and everyone suffering through this lonely pandemic. May you stay well, safe, happy and find your own ways to give to our community following in the spirit of this amazing young man.

Like Julie, I want to believe that after Covid-19 the world will be better: more just, harmonious and cleaner. Looking beyond the catastrophe in Washington, it’s easy to find generosity and selflessness. Look no further than the Pennsylvania workers who volunteered to labor round the clock in 12-hour shifts for a month at their factory. Without ever going home, they slept on makeshift beds and produced millions of pounds of PPE materials, uncontaminated by the virus.

Self-sacrifice and the American can-do spirit are alive and well.

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Filed under American Society, Coronavirus

Combatting the Coronavirus

Credit: Scientific Animations

Knowledgable health officials are telling us that a Coronavirus epidemic will not spare the US. It’s a question of when it will arrive, not if. They warn that we must not lose any more time in preparing for the onslaught of the disease.

[Update: scroll to end for tips on how to protect yourself]

As of now, we are grievously unprepared. We don’t have enough hospital beds to accommodate both the predicted large numbers of victims and the patients hospitalized for the usual reasons. We don’t have nearly enough masks and other gear to protect health workers constantly exposed to the disease; we lack testing kits to identify and confirm infection. These are indispensable for preventing or at least limiting the spread of COVID-19, as the new Coronavirus is now called. 

There has been no concerted effort to remedy these and other deficiencies because two years ago Trump fired the global disease expert and eliminated the agency established by President Obama to deal with domestic epidemics and global pandemics. (Trump thought emergency preparation was a waste of money because without an epidemic, there would be nothing to do.) The President defunded the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), stripping away the infrastructure we now desperately need to deal with the crisis.

Instead, Trump assured Americans in a press conference on February 26 that he and his administration are doing a “great job” and have the situation completely under control. There are only 15 cases, he asserted, and there will soon be zero as those people recover. Actually, there were 59 cases in the US (now 60). Trump preferred not to count the 44 Americans  infected with or exposed to the Coronavirus who were airlifted home from Asia. Despite the insistence of the CDC that they be isolated, the Trump political appointees with no medical expertise had them travel in the same plane with their healthy comrades. Even worse, A whistleblower today revealed that the personnel sent to welcome the 14 persons in quarantine were not trained or equipped with protective gear. Moreover, after being exposed to the virus, they went their separate ways across the country, possibly exposing an unknown number of other people.

As of today, 49 countries have reported more than 82,000 cases and more than 2,800 deaths from the disease. But Trump denies we have an imminent crisis, controverting the scientists’ warning that we cannot avoid the certainty of an epidemic.

Trump believes that his reelection depends on the continuing record-breaking climb of the stock market. The market has been tanking for six consecutive days since February 20, significantly eroding the gains of the Trump years. The decline is a reaction to the virus and its adverse effect on the global economy, but Trump blamed it on the Democrats’ debate (which took place on February 25, after four days of market free fall) and the media, which he accuses of exaggerating the seriousness of the situation.

To combat the horrible truths that emerge each day, as we learn of more cases in more places, Trump has decreed that the CDC and other medical authorities cannot advise and update the public without first submitting their comments to the vice president for his approval. From now on, with the experts muzzled, we’ll have to depend on leaks and sharp reporting to find out what is really going on. Shades of Stalin, as democratic norms continue to be shattered and totalitarian constraints and restrictions inexorably replace them. 

People, products, food and disease-causing micro-organisms traverse the globe in unprecedented numbers and historic speed. When they were free to share their concerns, professional medics warned us to prepare by readying hospitals, testing and stocking medical supplies. But how can individuals prepare? What should we do? The recommendations for avoiding contagion are mostly common sense procedures, no different from what we already know. 

  • First of all, prepare, don’t panic. Healthy people experience what will feel like a cold or the flu. Children don’t seem to be affected. Seniors, however, are at risk, especially if they have chronic conditions like diabetes.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, especially after touching handrails, doorknobs, elevator buttons, gym equipment— anything that others touch. Wash before eating and after using the bathroom. Use soap and hot water and scrub for at least 20 seconds: between the fingers, backs of the hands, under the nails. This video demonstrates the technique advocated by the World Health Organization as the best way to wash your hands. (It’s a little more complicated than what you’re used to.)
  • Don’t touch your face! Most of us do it all the time, but infection enters easily through mouth, eyes and nose.
  • For now, stop shaking hands.
  • Avoid touching handrails, doorknobs, etc. away from home.
  • Carry alcohol-based (at least 60 percent alcohol) hand sanitizer to use when soap and water aren’t feasible.
  • Keep your distance (six feet, if possible) from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Get a flu shot.
  • Avoid crowds. It follows that you should avoid public transportation whenever possible. Also sport events, theaters, conferences.
  • Keep a 90-day supply of your medications on hand.
  • Work from home if you can.
  • Stock your cupboard in case you have to stay home.
  • Avoid spreading your own germs:
  • Sneeze or cough into your elbow.
  • Stay home if you don’t feel well and see a doctor.

If you manage to follow these tips, you and your family will probably stay healthy. At least you won’t regret not taking the recommended precautions.

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Filed under Health, Trump