I want to tell a quick story this week about covid and privilege. In the last week, both my son and my best friend’s family came down with covid symptoms. As explained in Week 16’s post, my son went down to our local urgent care facility (located in a heavily populated but also solidly middle-class-and-upwards area). He was told the wait would be five hours, outside in the heat, but was brought in after only two. His test was a rapid-response test, and he had his results in 15 minutes.
Now let’s flip over to my friend Natalie’s household, which is primarily hispanic, living in a similar area population-wise, but much poorer. Her family struggles with money and receives certain government assistances as it includes two elderly disabled folks with cancer, one adult with severe autism that requires full-time care, one adult who is a full-time caregiver, and one adult working outside the home to try to provide enough income for all five of them. The latter two have health benefits through employers, the first three have a combination of VA benefits, Medicare, and Medicaid. The ones with employer benefits got covid-tested. One got results within two days; one had to get a second test over a week later in order to get results. The three on government assistance – the three that are most vulnerable – struggled to get tests. One ended up in the hospital, finally tested there (positive), and was then sent home despite being unable to eat, get his fever down, or receive his cancer treatment. One finally had a much-delayed drive-in test with the city, and results have still not come in over a week later. One was refused any service completely, even after a teledoc visit – even though she’s had brain cancer four times, is extremely vulnerable due to brain shunts, and there was a confirmed positive in the house! Nat couldn’t even get her in at the same urgent care Morrigan went to. She finally got an appointment more than a full week after covid was confirmed in the household.
So maybe it’s the lack of health care that is holding them back. Maybe it’s the number of cases in their part of town, where covid is spreading like wildfire. Maybe it’s a lot of things, but this is the real story: in poorer parts of town, health service is scarce, tests are slow if available at all, and this leads to more cases and more deaths. There’s a reason why cases and deaths are happening in disproportionate amounts across the city (and indeed, across the nation). Money, class, and race are major factors in how this disease is spreading. There are a million examples of privilege dividing how patients are treated in health care in general. This is one that I feel on a very personal level. Anyone who says that disease doesn’t discriminate is someone who has never studied any kind of sociology, history, political science, urban development, food science, or disease management. You don’t have to have studied it in school to see these things plainly. None of this is okay. It makes me so, so angry.
Okay. Rant over. Now: If your mental health is at a point where you cannot bear to hear more about quarantine stuff, skip to the bottom of this post for a list of positives and highlights and Nice Things. We all need some of that right now!
-Friday, July 3rd:
Local count: 14,212 (+1334), 117 deaths. Another emergency alert today, this time about mandatory masks. Another 8K new cases in Texas. More concern about the upcoming holiday weekend and people congregating when they shouldn’t be. I really hope they won’t, but I wouldn’t bet on that. For instance, I know my sister-in-law in Minnesota is throwing a giant party with potluck and fireworks for dozens of people, sigh. I’m just thankful that Morrigan is fully recovered, our SA household has plenty of grocery supplies and can stay safe at home for a long time, and three of us are well out of the way of the danger. I really hope that within a few weeks, we can flatten out this curve again!! This continued increase in record daily cases in San Antonio is terrifying. (Pic: Ambrose with the mini-dachshunds here in WI.)
-Saturday, July 4th:
Local count: 14,550 (+341), 122 deaths. Texas had another surge of over 8K cases. Other than that, no real news today, possibly because it’s a holiday. I’m happy to have nothing major to report!
-Sunday, July 5th:
Local count: 14,751 (+198), 130 deaths. We had really upsetting news today. Not only did we report our highest ever daily death count in San Antonio (8), but one of those deaths was of a 17-year-old boy with down syndrome. It’s our first death under the age of 30. Additionally, we had our third death of someone in their 30s. While our case numbers grow bigger and bigger for younger people (more than a third are under 30, and a full quarter of all cases are aged 20-29), deaths have been primarily affecting those over the age of 50. It makes sense, and if all of this surge wasn’t sobering enough on its own, we now have a CHILD who has died of covid. It’s devastating, and raging out of control. I’m terrified for Jason and Morrigan stuck in SA, as well as all my friends and extended family. We’re down to 10% bed availability in hospitals. Testing is swamped, so badly that starting tomorrow, the city has cut off all asymptomatic testing again. (Hopefully that means Natalie and her family will be able to acquire tests after days and days of trying to find somewhere who can take them when they’re all sick and they have a family member with confirmed covid at home and disabled…) (Pic: Lexie says, “Wear a mask and stay home!!”)
-Monday, July 6th:
Local count: 15,102 (+351), 132 deaths. Some of the news coming from around the country/world is appalling. A teen in Florida died after her conspiracy-theorist mother took her to a “covid party” to get her sick. The Prumpster said our large number of US cases is a “badge of honor.” OMG that a$$hole. And now, a case of bubonic plague in China?? Seriously, stop it, 2020! In local news: Testing is up to 7k daily capacity, but still not enough for all the tests we need right now. Our positivity rate is up to 22%, though thankfully our doubling rate didn’t go further down this week (still at 11 days). The epi-curve is starting to level off slightly, which we hope means that the rate of infection is slowing after the last few weeks of Judge Wolff’s mandate regarding businesses requiring masks for customers. But you never know. It’ll be two weeks before we can assess any damage done over the holiday weekend, and most businesses are still open, and I saw that baseball games have opened here and are allowing fans in (with masks and space between seats, but STILL!). Sigh. It was a rough day for me, personally. The death of that boy yesterday hit me really hard and I spent a lot of the night crying, then didn’t sleep well. I miss home, I miss my house, I miss my family, I miss my cats, I miss being able to hug Jason and get physical comfort when I feel this sad. I really hate being so far apart, even if I know it’s for the best. My in-laws’ kitty, Wally, spent a lot of time snuggling me today (pics), and I have to believe that he knew I needed comfort.
-Tuesday, July 7th:
Local count: 15,880 (+778), 137 deaths. Texas reported over 10,000 cases today state-wide. To give some perspective, the state has well over 200k cases total, which is more than most countries in the world. Most of our news continues in the same direction – lots of emergency and medical personnel struggling with the virus, beds almost full at the hospitals, several churches closed down due to outbreaks among congregations, etc. San Antonio has dropped off the top five hot spots in the US, now down to #9. I don’t think this is because things are better, but rather because other places are going through even worse spikes. I’m also frustrated to learn that voting is one exemption to the mask rule per the governor, so at certain polling places, some people are refusing to wear them. Thankfully, the location Jason voted at today had everyone in a mask! I’m sad that I don’t get to vote this time around, but at least it’s only a runoff primary election; I did my main voting back in February. Meanwhile, people around here aren’t wearing masks at all, figuring the county is immune. They all stare at me and the boys when we go out in our masks, but whatever. We’ll just keep wearing them and staying safe!! (pic: running a MASKED 5K today)
-Wednesday, July 8th:
Local count: 16,725 (+845), 146 deaths. The deaths from this spike are starting to stack up. These numbers include a person in their 20s and another in their 30s. It’s hitting younger and younger folks. We also got the newest update from HEB, which showed that 120+ employees tested positive for covid in June, and in the first week of July, 41 more have gotten sick. Thanks, anti-maskers! Ugh. Also, I learned today that Nat’s mom finally got a test and tested positive for covid, so that’s two of five, and the only person in the family who has been mostly asymptomatic. We were really hoping she dodged the bullet because she’s extremely vulnerable, but no luck. Pic: Today’s stormy weather, which matches my current mood.
-Thursday, July 9th:
Local count: 17,679 (+954), 165 deaths. Note: 13 of the 19 deaths reported today are actually from the last three weeks, with the covid tests only done post-mortem. Six of them are in their 40s, more than doubling our previous number in that age group, and we’ve also doubled deaths in the 30s age group. In San Antonio, we’ve only had four people over the age of 100 test positive and until today, no deaths in that age group (and one confirmed recovery!), but today our first 100+ death was also reported. Sad day. While hospital numbers are starting to taper off slightly, 35% of all hospital admissions are now covid-related. Texas hit their third day in a row with around 10k new cases. Remember back in April when it was news that we hit 1000 for three days in a row? Aww, that’s cute. // Natalie’s husband finally got his covid results (after TWO tests!), and he’s confirmed positive now, as expected. Sadly, her mother went from mild symptoms to major symptoms today, too. Still no word on her brother’s results, and he was tested over a week ago. And to top off what turned out to be a pretty miserable day, I felt sick all day, though likely NOT with covid thank goodness.
So we began the week with 12,878 cases and 115 deaths. We added 4801 cases this week – about 686 per day on average – which is actually a tiny ray of hope. It’s more than last week’s total of 4426 (avg 632), but the climb upwards is MUCH smaller this week. Things are starting to level off a bit. Wish we could have kept them leveled off when we were averaging less than 50 cases per day, but this the first positive sign in the numbers that we’ve seen in about six weeks!! Deaths, of course, are another story. Over 4x the previous highest weekly total of those. Some are from the previous two weeks, given Thursday’s backlog announcement, but even if all of those 13 were not from this week, we’d be far higher than our previous weekly high of 15. Honestly, it’s to be expected. Usually there’s a lag between onset of illness and death, so the deaths are going to skyrocket a bit now just like the cases did. We need to be focused on making sure to slow the outbreak, so we won’t have more deaths in the future!
Positives and Highlights and Nice Things
I am extremely homesick and had a very tough week. Even my positives were less positive. I’m honestly not sure how much longer I’ll be able to stay in isolation up here. I love my extended family, but I miss home.
- all things rhubarb
- binge-watching Unsolved Mysteries (the new episodes)
- been doing good cutting my iced coffee to twice a day (down from three, sometimes four)
- Wally the kitty, with the lowest, croakiest meow there is
- one of my friends is moving back to San Antonio after many years later this summer!
- Jason was able to help Natalie’s family acquire some supplies that were sold out everywhere near them
- had the initial zoom meeting with the virtual book club I’m forming
- kickstarter for The Way of Kings swag, including an unpublished novella in my favorite series of all time!
- finished my second book in a week, which is more quickly than I’ve read since early February!
What’s up in your world right now?
The story about Natalie’s family, really, really, SUCKS. Especially the part about them not getting the test in the same hospital where Morrigan went — WTF????
We are hanging in here and just making it through the days. I hate all this but I am very, very lucky to be healthy and have a stable income and health care right now. I know you hate Wisconsin but I hope you can stay as long as possible and be safe!
Yeah, it’s really awful. There’s a way to go to the TX Medcare urgent care clinics and check wait times at all of them across the city. Jason checked up for her one morning and sent her the three with the smallest wait times, plus the info on the TX Medcare clinic we went to. She tried all of them and they all said they couldn’t get any of them in! And then her dad, who should never have been released with covid raging through him, was just sent home from the hospital after the second day. They said they wouldn’t treat his covid until he got the symptoms for his other illnesses under control, and they wouldn’t treat the other illnesses until the covid symptoms were gone. WTF?? Ugh!
I don’t hate Wisconsin so much as I’m homesick and hate having my family split into two places. I miss being able to hug Jason and go down to the park to exercise, even if it IS frickin 105 degrees there right now. I know we’ll be here for at least a few weeks but I”m not sure I can make it to mid-August!
Hugs to Natalie’s family… why is everything so upside down? There are days when I’m so stricken by anger and fear that I don’t know what to do. 😦
A virtual book club is such a great idea! Keep us posted on how that’s working out!
I don’t know why so many people aren’t looking at the bigger issue, like “this is going to be around for a few years until we have a vaccine, or longer if a vaccine proves to be impossible.” It’s not that difficult to spend two weeks at home and wear face masks. If we all did it, we could practically eliminate this thing. But no.
Oh, I am so sorry to hear about Natalie’s family. Please keep us updated if you can. I hope they recover okay.
I’m going to try to include updates in my next Quarantine Diaries. I heard from Nat yesterday and she’s in the second wave of fever/headaches. I think her dad has begun eating again which is a good sign. Not sure about the others, but she would have told me if any of them had passed or gone into the hospital. So far, they’re majorly sick but hanging in there.