13 June 2020 – Saturday – #90

I bought parasols at Ikea yesterday!

When Brad and I were furnishing Casa Solar in February, shopping at Ikea seemed about as exciting as oatmeal for breakfast. Armed with Brad’s detailed spreadsheets full of part numbers and aisle locations, we arrived as Ikea opened so we had the store pretty much to ourselves. While my worldly possession were bobbing along the Atlantic Ocean towards Barcelona, Brad and I furnished a bedroom for Brad and a guest room for all the friends and family threatening to visit. In two days, we had a situation comfortable enough to survive until my ship came to port.

Yesterday’s Ikea adventure couldn’t have been more different from the February trip. The store was packed. Everyone wore masks. Shopping cart traffic jams everywhere. Twenty minute checkout lines. Oh, what a difference a pandemic makes!

Luckily I found two parasols for the terrace, the entire reason for the excursion, but most of the other things on my list either weren’t available or I couldn’t find them. When I say I couldn’t find them, what I mean is that the lines for the kiosks that reveal where to find things were ten or fifteen deep. I spent nearly as much time at Ikea yesterday as Brad and I spent in February, except instead of furnishing two bedrooms, I bought two parasols and some plastic bags for Nicole. In February, Ikea shipped the next day. Now it’s three business days.

I take this as good news for the Spanish economy. The technical term, I believe, is pent-up demand.

Two mundane transportation notes. I rode a Bicing bike to Ikea only to find out that the Bicing network ends about 1.5 km short of Ikea. It was my first bike ride since March. That felt great. The walk after I docked my bike took me past a busy shopping mall that foreshadowed my Ikea experience.

On the way home, I got confused and took the Ferrocarrils instead of the Metro. Not a big deal. I had to pay two fares instead of one, but the time was about the same. If I hadn’t taken the FGC, I wouldn’t have discovered the new exclamation points on the floor.

FGC floor graphics showing passengers how to stand to avoid Covid-19 transmission.

It’s clear that if you cover the exclamation points with your feet, you won’t have to talk to anyone while traveling. Also, you’re less likely to transmit Covid-19.

A clear pattern is emerging in my diary entries where the first part is about Spain and Europe recovering from Covid-19 and the second part is about the next Covid-19 disaster in the US. From over here, it’s like watching a slow motion train wreck.

The CDC finally released Covid-19 guidelines, what, like two months late? Meantime, many states that pushed to re-open are experiencing spikes in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. Here’s yet another handy report that shows change in Covid-19 cases after each US state re-opened. For instance here’s Covid-19 cases in Oklahoma, where, in deference to Juneteenth, Trump has postponed next week’s election campaign kickoff rally in Tulsa by a day.

Oklahoma growth in Covid-19 cases after reopening, 12 June 2020.

Whirlpool is closing down its Tulsa manufacturing plant because of a Covid-19 outbreak (Hey, Whirlpool, those CDC guidelines you were looking for? They just came out!), but that’s not stopping Trump from inviting supporters to a packed, mask-free rally. Trump keeps saying it’s post-Coronavirus, but I’m reading more like Darwin.

The absence of any Covid-19 messaging from the White House leaves local officials flapping in the wind. I noted previously that Orange County’s public health director quit because of violent threats after her mandatory mask order. She’s not alone. State and county health directors have resigned or been fired in Ohio, Arizona, California, Missouri, and Colorado, to name a few. Who wants public health officials telling them what to do when Trump invites us to join his post-Coronavirus delusion?

Parenthetically, the Trump administration quietly reduced LGBTQ health protections, I guess because now we don’t have to worry about Covid-19. It is rescinding an LGBTQ non-discrimination rule for healthcare and health insurance. Only doctor in town a homophobe? Too bad she won’t test you for Covid-19.

Oh, and last thing. Houston, we have a problem.

The Houston region is currently at Code Orange, or Level 2, which translates to an uncontrolled level of ongoing transmission and spread. If hospitalizations and ICU populations continue to rise, Hidalgo said the region may be “approaching the precipice of a disaster” and county and city leaders may recommend residents stay home again, only to leave for groceries, medications or to care for a loved one.

Houston Chronicle, “Houston coronavirus updates: What you need to know for June 12,” 12 June 2020.

The “precipice of a disaster.” Let that sink in. Trump’s delusional post-Coronavirus world is colliding with the actual virus. It’s quite a train ride.

While the train wreck in the US continues, I’m lunching with my friend Ruben in El Masnou. It’s my first train ride out of Barcelona since I arrived. Wish me luck!

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