‘The whole province is locked down again,’ said the friendly policewoman over the weekend. ‘No internal travel without permission.’
To bring new readers up to speed, we came down to Argentina in early March to visit our ranch. The day after we arrived, the country sealed its borders and stopped all international flights. We’ve been here ever since.
But it’s been an idyllic confinement for us. It was as if we had washed up on a lush, uninhabited island — with plenty of good food, the best wine in the world, warm sun, cool nights — and a Wi-Fi connection.
And suddenly, we discovered the most precious thing of all — time. With nowhere to go and no one to see, we could do things we always meant to do…always wanted to do…but never had the time.
the lockdowns are acts of government. Like the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, the Federal Reserve, and Amtrak…they will plague us for decades to come.
This weekend, for example, we took a long ride on horseback and had a picnic on the riverbank, overlooking an 18th century church on the other side of the river.
We’ve also had time to read, write…and learn to play the piano. It just happened — again, by dumb luck — that a friend was trying to get rid of a huge, antique piano, which ended up in our living room.
Every day we practice, as Elizabeth, discreetly, takes a long walk…or cringes.
We can almost hear her saying: ‘No…no…E flat…not F sharp…oh no…he’s lost the rhythm again…ouch!’
We’ve laboured our way through two tango pieces — one by Carlos Gardel and the other by Cacho Castaña.
‘Oh…tango…is that what they were?’ asked Elizabeth cruelly.
Locked down again
A week ago, it looked like our pleasant confinement was coming to an end.
Argentina was opening up. Since July, travel had been allowed internally. International airlines were supposed to resume ‘normal’ operations next month.
But then, on Saturday came word that more cases of the coronavirus had been discovered ‘in the city’ (Salta)…so they locked down the whole province again.
‘I don’t know how long we can keep doing this,’ the pretty policewoman offered a comment. ‘Every time we try to open up, the virus hits us. It doesn’t seem to go away.’
Costs of the lockdown
Meanwhile, in the US, the costs of the lockdown mount up. The Washington Post:
‘If the unemployment rate stays around 10 percent and no new stimulus is delivered, said Zach Parolin, a researcher at Columbia University, “we can expect poverty rates to rise and climb higher than those observed in the Great Recession.” The poverty threshold for a family of four is $26,200, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
‘Data collected by the Census Bureau capture the financial pain. For the week that ended July 21, the most recent numbers available, roughly 29 million U.S. adults — about 12.1 percent — said their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat the preceding seven days, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Nearly 15 million renters said they were behind on rent during the same period.’
But there are other costs, too. Bloomberg:
‘An epidemic of depression and anxiety among young adults
‘Young adults, in particular, are getting more depressed and anxious as SARS-CoV-2 uproots whatever budding life plans they’d been nursing.
‘It’s long been clear that Covid-19, like any major disaster, is causing an increase in mental-health disorders and their accompanying evils. Those range from alcoholism and drug addiction to wife beating and child abuse.
‘In the U.S., the national rate of anxiety tripled in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2019 (from 8.1% to 25.5%), and depression almost quadrupled (from 6.5% to 24.3%). In Britain, which has also had a severe outbreak and a long lockdown, depression has roughly doubled, from 9.7% of adults before the pandemic to 19.2% in June.
‘…older adults had already built their lives before the pandemic — with routines, structures, careers and relationships to fall back on. The young had not, and were just embarking on that adventure when Covid-19 struck.’
In many cases, the result is a spike in suicides. Roll Call:
‘Los Alamos [New Mexico] has seen an increase in suicides during the pandemic, rising from just two last year to triple that many so far this year…Cook County, Illinois, and Fresno, California, are among those reporting similar spikes, with suicides up 13 percent in Cook County so far compared with the same period last year. In Fresno, suicides were 70 percent higher in June than in the same month last year.
‘CDC Director Robert Redfield also commented in July on a spike in suicides.
‘“There has been another cost that we’ve seen, particularly in high schools. We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose,” said Redfield.’
Fortunately, the number of COVID deaths in the US is declining. The virus was, as far as we know, an act of God. It will pass in God’s good time.
But the lockdowns are acts of government. Like the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, the Federal Reserve, and Amtrak…they will plague us for decades to come.
For The Rum Rebellion