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In a Time of Quarantine

This is a time of quarantine. Covid-19, a disease caused by a coronavirus from China is sweeping the world. Over a million people have been infected in the United States, and over 80,000 are dead. Worldwide statistics are probably less reliable but Johns Hopkins reports that four million have been infected and close to 300,000 are dead.

Many States and countries have shut down their economies. People have been encouraged to stay at home and to distance themselves from other people. For many this is a major hardship; for others only a minor inconvenience.

The politics surrounding this are complex and controversial. I will not try to go into them here. They will be much easier to evaluate at a future time.

At the moment there is no vaccine to guard against the disease and there is no really effective treatment.  In spite of the fact that some 14,000 scientific papers have been published on the subject, there is much that is still unknown.  It seems that the effects of the disease vary greatly from individual to individual.  It is clear that older people and people with “pre-existing conditions” are more at risk.  Children seem to catch the disease and be capable of spreading it but they don’t suffer from it the way adults do.  It is still uncertain whether people who have had Covid-19 are immune to future infection or how long such immunity might last.

Melinda Lee and I (Bill Bean) have been living on Foster Street in West Cambridge for over 20 years.  We have been staying at home and avoiding other people for two months now.  We are 76 and 77 years old, which puts us at risk but neither of us has any of the health problems that are usually listed as pre-existing conditions.  So, what is our life like and how is this affecting us?

Superficially not much has changed.  We are accustomed to taking three walks each day for a total of close to  five miles.  We no longer walk into Harvard Square or take our morning coffee from Peet’s to Harvard Commons.  Instead we walk to the west among the mansions on Brattle Street and make our own coffee using an Italian Moka Pot.  We order most of our food online and have it delivered to our houses.  Neither of us has been inside a store for two months.  We get milk from Meg, who has it delivered weekly to her house in Auburndale.

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