Thursday, April 30, 2020

Day 49 of Nat'l Emergency: Random Thoughts on COVID-19

April ends tonight, one third of 2020 is finis, but the word of the year, according to my wife Gilda, will be #socialdistancing.

While on the subject of end of year accolades, the current choice for Time magazine’s Man of the Year has to be Dr. Anthony Fauci as a representative of the scientific and healthcare communities fighting COVID-19 based on science and facts, not pseudo science and mindless hunches.

Garden Party: Gilda is a frustrated woman. Not that way—get your mind out of the gutter!

After a mild, mostly sunny March that allowed her to get a head start on her flower and vegetable garden, Gilda has been stymied by a cold, wet April. Every day she checks the weather, multiple times, looking, praying actually, for a break when she could put seedlings out overnight without fear they will wither from the chill. 

Nurseries haven’t ordered vegetable plants because of the cold. What started out as an auspiciously good spring has turned into a downer. 

Zoom Golly Golly: Like most houses of worship our synagogue has suspended in-house services during the coronavirus pandemic. Lay and clerical leadership are now discussing implementation of Zoom-enabled virtual services, normally a non-starter in Jewish circles because of the requirement for a physical presence in one place of 10 adults for several vital prayers including recitation of mourner’s kaddish. 

Our ritual committee, of which I am a member, met by Zoom Tuesday night to begin the process of initiating a virtual sabbath service. It will happen, but only after technical issues are resolved, prompting me to send a note to our current and former rabbis wondering if in addition to conferring a divinity degree to new rabbis the Jewish Theological Seminary might also need to confer a degree in computer science. 

No Sweat: Even if you’re not a sports fan you no doubt know that professional sports leagues and their college counterparts have shut down in fear that fans packed together in stands would be excessively vulnerable to virus transmission. Athletes, as well, had to be concerned their sweaty contact and close proximity to each other could be a link to infection. 

It was not the first time athletes harbored those same worries. After Magic Johnson revealed he tested positive for HIV in 1991, basketball players wondered if his sweat, and that of any other player who had not divulged their HIV+ status, could infect them. 

They needn’t fear. One of the first studies Gilda ran as the then research coordinator of the Division of Infectious Diseases at NY Medical College/Westchester County Medical Center found that HIV could not be passed by sweat. 

Johnson could continue his Hall of Fame career. He became the face of HIV and its successful treatment. 

Spitting Distance: Spittle, on the other hand, is most definitely a carrier of coronavirus. For that reason I was intrigued by a story in Wednesday’s New York Times that a small theater in Pittsfield, Mass., the Barrington Stage Company, is planning a scaled down summer program.
It will remove 70% of the 520 seats in its main theater. All ticket holders will be required to wear masks ( 

I was interested in the story because of my experience at Playwrights Horizons in Manhattan almost seven years ago. 

Sitting in the first row I was shocked by one of the actors standing on the lip of the stage right before me. He was particularly energetic in his vocalizations. He projected more than just words. Had I an umbrella at hand I might have opened it up in self defense. His “reach,” so to speak, exceeded six feet. 

It’s an unfortunate byproduct of elocution for some actors. Indeed, in one scene where the sprayer and another thespian held drinks as they stood face to face, I observed the second actor place his right hand across the mouth of his glass to shield it from any more liquid enhancing his drink.

Many a time I’ve done the same—cover my glass, that is—at parties and cocktail receptions. Who knew I was in COVID-19 social protocol training all those years.