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Situation Summary: By March 1, 2020 the outbreak of pneumonia associated with a novel, or new, coronavirus had resulted in thousands of confirmed cases across 60 countries with the global death toll reaching 3,041.

The Center for Disease Control’s COVID-19 webpage only updates their information once per day based on data received by 4pm the previous day, so I’ve been getting daily data from other sources

For the global picture:
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center COVID-19 Map
Washington Post’s Mapping the Worldwide Spread of the Coronavirus
For state/local information:
Louisiana Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
New Orleans information from Ready.NOLA.gov.
Alabama Department of Public Health COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard

March 1-7, 2020 No cases in Louisiana

I started the day having to deal with a plumbing issue at the rental property Dad and I own in Gert Town. I got the repairs guys working on that and replacing the bathroom door that had swollen up from the flooding and replacing all the molding. I’m not sure they entirely fixed the problem that existed from before we bought the property in 2013 but we’ll go in and check it weekly to make sure the repair holds.

I went to the Lakeside mall to fix up the Macy’s store book displays and headed home by way of the gas station as I’ll be heading out of town tomorrow and I wanted a full tank to start the drive.

Forum for Equality held a fundraiser/legislative event that evening with local politicians to talk about the session. It was held in a beautiful mansion on St Charles Avenue.

I helped set up and worked the door, getting people signed in and getting them name tags as well as catching up with everyone I hadn’t seen in a while. There were a couple of mentions of the coronavirus but we were all hugging and kissing our greetings as we talked about the importance of defeating a horrible anti-trans bill and getting our own employment non-discrimination bill passed in this year’s Louisiana legislative session, which begins on March 9th.

The next morning, I headed with Michelle over to my parents’ home in Foley, Alabama.

That evening I watched the US Women’s National Team play England in the She Believes Cup. The US women (and reigning World Cup Champions) won 2-0.

I voted for the Ann Bannon popular choice award and Tee Corinne award for excellence in cover design for the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Goldie Awards held during their annual literary conference. I bought my ticket to the conference last year and made hotel reservations and I’m really hoping that the July 6-12 conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico is able to go on as scheduled.

My sister and her husband came over on Friday, March 6th for Happy Hour bringing with them pizzas from Pizza Hut. We sat on the porch and chatted for a while after dinner.

On Saturday, March 7, Michelle and I went to Waterfront Rescue to see if the thrift store had anything fun. Michelle bought a lamp she can fill with Mardi Gras beads/doubloons plus a video game console. Afterwards, we did some Shopkicking in Walgreens and bought some raisin bran muffins at Public. Then we went to the Foley Railroad Museum and the Model Train exhibit before joining my sister at the Copper Kettle for tea and scones. This is a very intimate little tea shop with lots of knick knacks on the walls and quilts used as tablecloths. My sister and I shared a chrysanthemum blooming tea that was as beautiful as it was delicious.

That evening I grilled steaks and baked potatoes and made a spinach salad for mom, dad, Michelle and myself. I had a bit of trouble choking on the meat so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

March 8, 2020 – US reports 539 cases across 34 states with 22 deaths

On Sunday, Michelle and I were joined by Kathy and Wayne plus Kathy’s daughter, Kim, and her three kids (Dani, Michael and Xavier) for a chilly, sunrise walk on the beach at Gulf Shores State Park by the Pier.

We even saw an eagle flying!

Michelle and I swung by Publix for snacks and shopkicking on our way back to my mom and dad’s house.

I watched the US Women play against Spain in the She Believes Cup and win the game 1-0 because of some simply awesome play by Julie Ertz (she also scored in the 86th minute). Of course, we find out US Soccer sent a letter the day before the game making an offer for equal pay but only for matches under its control.

It was tacos for dinner!

March 9, 2020 – first case reported in New Orleans, Louisiana

On Monday, Michelle and I left early in the morning and drove on I-10 and I-65 through Mobile to get onto Highway 98. We got gas in Semmes, Alabama before stopping at the Wal-Mart in Petal, Mississippi. We shopped there before going to E&B Discount Grocery Store and then hitting another Wal-Mart in Hattiesburg. For lunch we went to Panera Bread for soup (baked potato) and sandwich (turkey and avocado BLT) for me and sandwich (chipotle chicken) and mac & cheese for her. We stopped at Ollies for some pots for plants and other bargains. After getting some gas at Keith’s we went to her house in Seminary, Mississippi and unloaded the car of her stuff and repacked it with my stuff. That evening, we went to her Aunt Sue’s house for dinner with her mom and dad and older brother, Bo. Smoked chicken and spaghetti.

March 10, 2020 – 2 more cases in New Orleans, six cases total in Louisiana

I drove from Michelle’s house in Seminary, Mississippi to Baton Rouge, Louisiana using the backroads of Highway 84 to Brookhaven before taking I-55 south. I then took I-12 to Airline Highway and got gas at the Wal-Mart and then went to the Mall of Louisiana. I went into Best Buy for Shopkicking and spent about 45 minutes in the store scanning products. There were just five people in the store, including myself, who weren’t employees. The Macy’s store was very quiet as well. I made sure to wash my hands well once I was done with the books before I headed back to New Orleans.

I also posting a blog post I had worked on over the weekend about my opposition to two horrible anti-trans athletes bills. LA SB 172 and LA HB466 are bad for kids, bad for anyone who supports Title IX and horribly intrusive. The link to the blog post is https://marygriggs.wordpress.com/2020/03/10/filling-the-unforgiving-minute/

I get home to news that in a court filing, US Soccer wrote that the men’s team carries more responsibility and that “indisputable science” of biological differences means women should be paid less because the men’s team “requires a higher level of skill.” Such bullshit and it was released the day before the US women face Japan in the final game of the She Believes Cup.

March 11, 2020 – There are now 13 cases in Louisiana of which 10 are in the New Orleans area

WHO Director General declares COVID19 a pandemic with 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people dead.

I went to the Lakeside Mall’s Macy store for work on Wednesday. They had obviously been busy over the weekend as the kids section was a mess. I was able to quickly fix everything then I washed my hands before heading over to Target – all the Purell, Clorox and other cleaning supplies were out. Lots of empty shelves downstairs but the food section on the second floor was full, so I got some snacks and headed home.

I learned on Facebook that a local retirement and assisted living facility, Lambeth House, has a case of coronavirus. Two very good friends, Jody Gates and Marilyn McConnell (and another friend Regina Matthews) all live at Lambeth House. I’m worried about them but Jody says CDC is on site and they are staying in their apartment as much as possible.

Later that evening I was on a conference call with the Legislative Agenda for Women for the Equal Pay Lobby Day. Every year, women’s and progressives set up events on a date specifically chosen to represent the additional 62 days from the end of the previous financial year that women have to work to earn the same as men. This year, that date falls on March 31st. I made the suggestion we take it virtual and the group agreed to do virtual advocacy (with or without the in-person event) contacting each organization’s own members to ensure they know their legislators, and send emails, faxes, tweets, and make calls to legislators about Equal Pay Day and the bills that are relevant to pay inequity and economic security.

The US Women won against Japan (3-1) but I missed the game as I don’t have cable anymore and I didn’t want to go out to one of the bars I usually go to (Rusty Nail or Bayou Beer Garden) to watch it with the increased number of coronavirus cases in the city. I was gratified to learn that several of the sponsors (Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Visa, Volkswagon, Allstate and Secret) all condemned US Soccer’s legal filing and most said they planned to meet with the Federation to discuss whether or not they’d be continuing.

March 12, 2020 – Two cases of coronavirus in Tennessee and 1 in Arkansas have possible links to Mardi Gras in New Orleans (https://www.wwltv.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/2-tennessee-1-arkansas-case-of-coronavirus-came-after-visits-to-mardi-gras/289-83032172-03f7-4bad-b214-7ef2b5057fd6)

I spent most of the morning repotting my succulent plants and planting the camellias I got from Dad. I had brought a 5 gallon bucket of compost back from Michelle’s house that I mixed with the dirt I had so I was able to repot a cactus from my sister Kathy into 6 pots, plus divide a huge aloe into 5 pots and a number of others that needed dividing or replanting after our warm winter.

I received an email from the Saints and Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival that they were going to cancel the event, scheduled for March 27-29. I had signed up to participate on a panel titled Writing In and Across Genres: Pushing Against the Stereotypes. Rick Reed was to moderate Alex Meyers, Elliott Foster, James K Moran and myself. I’m disappointed not to see my all my writerly friends and attend the panels but, better to be safe than sorry.

I read an article about the heartbreaking decisions Italian doctors are being forced to make with more patients than they have ventilators or hospital beds. I wrote on Twitter – Canceling parades and large events, closing schools is all to slow the spread of #COVID19 and to keep it from overwhelming our health care system. Be patient and maintain social distancing. Do it for those more vulnerable than you. Do it so our doctors don’t have to make these decisions.

I was so sore from all the bending and crouching, that I took a long soak in a bubble bath that evening. I used a new one to me – Dr. Teal’s Glow and Radiance with Vitamin C and Citrus Essential Oils foaming bath with Epsom salt. Very orange – it smells like I mugged a Florida fruit stand.

US Soccer canceled all the upcoming men’s and women’s teams matches for March and April. The USWNT was scheduled to play Australia and Brazil in the lead up to the Olympics. There were going to be 6 matches in total but the others hadn’t been announced yet. The USMNT had games scheduled in Wales and Cardiff.

March 13, 2020 – There are now 26 cases in New Orleans, 36 in Louisiana

State of emergency declared in New Orleans and Louisiana. All public schools in the state closed, limits placed on all gatherings of 250 or more.
(https://ready.nola.gov/incident/coronavirus/mayor-cantrell-joins-governor-edwards-to-update-ci/). White House declares national emergency.

I started the day laughing at an ABC News/Ipsos poll that still had 43% of Americans approving of the way President Trump has handled the crisis. I wasn’t aware there were so many door knob lickers out there but things are divided along partisan lines with only 17% of Democrats and 44% of Republicans not concerned about getting the coronavirus. Quite a spread. I wonder if the virus will run rampant in the MAGA crowd, since they don’t seem to be caring about it yet.

Today was a cooking day. I started by pulling out some sourdough starter and feeding the mother. I plan to make a focaccia for dinner tonight and so I left it on the counter for a while to develop a sponge.

I then made a batch of Chocolate Pecan Truffle Cookies – deeply dark with chocolate that is brought out even more with a pinch of flake salt on the top. Recipe here (https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2020/03/15/chocolate-pecan-truffle-cookies/)

As the cookies were baking, I began making chicken stock for soup tonight. Once the stock was fragrant and the chicken cooked, I strained out the solids and let it cool to bring the fat to the top. Later in the day, I made a Lemon, Chicken and Rice soup that was truly awesome (recipe here: https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2020/03/14/lemon-chicken-and-rice-soup/). To go with it, I made a garlic focaccia with the sponge I started earlier.

About midday, I had a long phone call from an organizer friend, Lynda Woolard. During our wide-ranging conversation, I learned the Louisiana Secretary of State was going to delay the April 4th primary election (and presidential primary preference vote) for at least two months to June 20th. The runoff would be held on July 25th. I sent an email with a link to his statement to the IWO board and this set off a firestorm of emails as we had been in the process of cancelling our Candidate Forum and Endorsement meeting scheduled for March 21st. We finally ended up scheduling a conference call on Monday, 3/16 to discuss it.

I learned at the end of the day that there are now 8 confirmed cases at Lambeth House. I’m worried about my friends but Jody says that they’re taking turns walking up and down the staircases for exercise and the weather has been good, so they’ve spent a lot of time on their balcony.

The US Soccer president, Carlos Cordeiro, resigned effective immediately following the furor over the legal filing. Forum USWNT player Cindy Parlow Cone will take over as president until the next meeting (Feb 2021) when they vote to fill the remainder of his term. She is the first woman to be US Soccer president and the second national team player in that role.

March 14, 2020 – 77 cases in Louisiana, 53 in New Orleans, first fatality in New Orleans.

I went to the Jefferson Highway Wal-Mart at 6:30 am on Saturday. The parking lot was full and the store had only been open for 30 minutes. I filled up on gas (only $1.88/gal) and went in the only door that was open. The grocery side aisles were full of desperate people panic buying everything. Virtually no cleaning products left, especially those with bleach. Very little left on the shelves anywhere. I went into the pharmacy side for alcohol and they only had 2 bottles of hydrogen peroxide left on the bottom two shelves.

I received two deliveries – one from Amazon on a replacement egg/mushroom/strawberry/spam slicer and 9 inch lazy Susan and another from Bass Pro with some pants I ordered back in January. I had the Amazon gal and USPS carrier just leave them on the porch and opened them out there and immediately trashed the packaging.

I used the lazy Susan in my cabinet reorganization with a set of Spicy Shelf Deluxe U shaped shelves I installed a couple of weeks ago. I’ve now got more my spices displayed and it is amazing how much room I have in there and on the counter now. If nothing else, my social isolating is helping me clean up the house!

There was a big St. Patrick’s gathering on Magazine Street at the Tracey’s Irish Bar in defiance of the requests to limit large gatherings. I’d say anyone who gets sick from being that stupid, it is their own damn fault but the issue is not so much them getting sick but transmitting it to others. I’m taking Dr. Graham Medley (Professor of Infectious Disease Modeling) advice: “Most people have a fear of acquiring the virus. I think a good way of doing it is to imagine that you do have the virus, and change your behavior so that you’re not transmitting it.”

I filled out my 2020 Census online. It is really important we all do so Louisiana gets its fair share of federal funds and ensure political representation at all levels of government is fairly allocated.

I read the historian Heather Cox Richardson’s column (subscribe here) regularly but today’s really resonated. From it:

“The fight over whether to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously, as well as the administration’s inept handling of it, is the outcome of forty years of assault on the American government. Since 1980, when Ronald Reagan ran for office on the warning that “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem,” Republicans have made war on the idea of an expert bureaucracy in charge of our government.

Over the years since, Republican leaders have continued to cut taxes, regulations, social safety nets, and infrastructure, all in the service of shunning socialism and promoting individualism. Whatever needs to be done, businessmen can do it best, they say. Government bureaucrats are inefficient and wasteful.

We have decimated our government bureaucracy and expertise, slashed taxes and the social safety net, and crippled our infrastructure, all in the name of promoting American business and the individualism that, in theory, encourages economic growth. The president, along with his enablers in the Senate, have tried to cement this ideology onto the country through the courts.

And now, the coronavirus pandemic is putting their system to the test. So far, it is failing miserably.”

March 15, 2020 – 2nd fatality in New Orleans, 75 cases in New Orleans, 103 cases in Louisiana, 2952 cases in US, 57 deaths nationwide.

WHO reports worldwide there are 153,648 cases in 146 countries or territories with 5746 deaths.

I woke up this morning to see that the New Orleans Archbishop sent out word that the obligation to attend Mass has been dispensed for the next 30 days. He ended the letter with “Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us!”

During the day I got a visit from my friends Charlotte and Thomas after their Costco run for her to drop off yarn for Michelle and for me to give her an aloe plant I repotted plus some of the cookies I baked.

Shared with me on Facebook was a resource guide for activists, organizers, and others who are looking out for the community through personal preparation, collective care, mutual aid and advocacy. Link to the google document here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dpMzMzsA83jbVEXS8m7QKOtK4nj6gIUk1U1t6P4wShY/edit?usp=sharing

CDC is now saying gatherings of 50 of more should be cancelled for the next 8 weeks. They’re advocating social distancing through early May.

At the Democratic Debate Sunday night, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders went head to head in CNN’s studio instead of in front of a live audience of 5,000 as originally planned. They had an elbow bump instead of a handshake. Biden promised a female running mate