My Pandemic Year III: January 1, 2022

When I left my downtown Seattle office on March 11, 2020, it was beyond my imagining that a planned 30-day lockdown would extend into a third calendar year. And yet, here we are. This archive continues, today’s entry organized by subject rather than by date.

Since last I posted on November 4, 2021, my cautious optimism has faded to a combination of anger, numbness and fatigue. The Atlantic reported in December that 1 in 3 of us have COVID induced depression and anxiety. Seattle schools closed on November 12 due to lack of teachers from burnout – the story made the NY Times. Homeless camps continue to spread through parks and my neighborhood, and tents are returning to Third Avenue in downtown Seattle, along with an escalation in violent crime.

COVID — On December 17, the King County Health Department puts my private thoughts into public words – that we would continue to face disruptions on several levels – schools, transit, health care, manufacturing, food production, delivery – as people fall ill and have to isolate and quarantine with the less lethal but highly contagious Omicron variant. Although our death rate has declined, we still do not have enough data to understand the long term effects on those who survive these infections.

  • November 21 – a 5th wave hits the EU, cases increase by 30%. They go into lockdown two days later. I expect the US wave to hit right around Christmas.
  • November 26 – A new variant in South Africa causes some concern and has now spread to Hong Kong. I expect to see new travel restrictions soon. The new mutation – Omicron – is thought to be resistant to both vaccine and ‘natural immunity.’
  • December 1 – Omicron arrives in San Francisco.
  • December 5 – Omicron arrives in King County, WA. ICU cases are up 26% and ‘natural immunity’ continues to be ineffective against this variant.
  • December 7 – All travelers including Americans must test negative before they can re-enter the US from their travels. Google announces their workers will continue to work remotely, indefinitely.
  • December 14 – 800,000 people have now died in the US from COVID-19. One in seven of us have been infected, and 1 in 100 have died from it. 75% of all COVID-19 deaths are in my age group (65+).
  • December 17 PBS reports that Pfizer forecasts the pandemic extending into 2024. NHL and NFL reschedule games, and Broadway starts to shut down. Some doctors think that Omicron is not as mild as first believed. NPR reports models ranging from 1,412 – 3,876 deaths per day, and cases ranging from 189,069 – 500,000 per day. So my personal estimate is 2,200 deaths and 250,000 cases per day through January 2022.
  • December 19 – The NHL halts cross-border games with Canada. Omicron is discovered to have 57 variants, with one model forecasting 1M cases per day. “People are tired of the virus and the restrictions.” For all the good that concept does anyone. Get VAXXD! Wear a MASK!
  • December 20 – 253,954 new cases today, 1,515 deaths.
  • December 21 – A Texas man is the first recorded Omicron death. He was unvaxxd and had had COVID-19 before. He was in his mid-50’s, with other medical issues. The NHL withdraws from the upcoming Winter Olympics today due to COVID-19.
    December 22 – Pfizer receives authorization for Paxlovid – a pill that can treat serious COVID-19 at home. Merck is also working on an anti-viral. US has 265,353 new cases today and 2,049 new deaths.
  • December 24 – 200 flights are cancelled today due to COVID-19 related staffing shortages. WaPo reports that 800 kids are being hospitalized every day. Doctors state publicly that unvaxxd Omicron patients are taking beds away from others with critical needs, and that our overall death count will go up as a result.
  • December 25The Guardian reports that 5,400 flights have been cancelled globally as of noon today. Xian Province in China is in day 3 of lockdown. Washington DC is canceling Christmas church services after a sudden increase of 186 deaths per 100,000 residents. The quarantine period is being shortened to 5 days in order to get essential workers back on the job. Trump has been vaxxd and boosted and is now touting his vaccine to the dismay of his more rabid MAGA fans.
  • December 26 – The Guardian reports a 42% increase in cases in the US, and a 17% increase in deaths.
  • December 27 – WA DC deaths are now 279 per 100,000, nearly double from two days ago. US cases are 52,680,669, a 47% increase from last week. US deaths are 818,119.
  • December 28Seattle Times reports 6,235 new cases on Dec 24. King County has had a 195% increase in cases over the last 7 days. 1.2% of Washingtonians have now died from COVID-19. I replace my home-made face masks with N95 respirators for my bus commute.
  • December 30 – King County reaches 50% positivity rate in COVID-19 testing. Several test sites including the UW Medical Centers are only testing people with exposure and symptoms due to their capacity being overwhelmed. At the same time, all Seattle schools will be closed on Monday to test 60,000 staff and students.
  • December 31 – US ends the year with 54,588,489 cases and 825,477 total deaths. Global deaths exceed 5 million. The Guardian reports that US cases have increased 90%, but deaths have decreased 20%. Nearly every human on the planet is expected to contract some variant before this is over.

CRIME — In November I started following Seattle PD on Twitter for the precincts where I live and work. Assaults, robberies and other incidents have become frequent, and I watch police cars in groups of 2-5 come through my apartment complex several times a week.

In the last week of December, there were about 10 reports a day within a 2 block radius of my downtown office, including fights, harassment, trespass and property damage. Those listed here are the just the ones closest to my front door. My head is on a swivel every time I leave the building.

  • November 9 – Armed robbery at Third & University at 12:50 PM.
  • November 21 – Assaults between 4-4:30 PM downtown, and an armed robbery on 115th near my home. at about the same time.
  • November 22 – An altercation at noon shuts down half of the 2nd floor of the downtown Target and curtails my supply run for the office. The security guard at Walgrens is in full tactical gear, which freaks me out too much to shop there. Arriving back at my office, an ambulance across the street has loaded someone onto a gurney, leaving behind a significant amount of blood and debris on the sidewalk which does not get cleaned up for another 2.5 hours.
  • November 24 – I come home to find an ambulance in my complex, with the EMTs trying to get a guy onto a gurney whom I think is probably homeless. I run errands and return an hour later, and there are now 5 aid cars, dealing with the same guy…
  • December 8 – I try to leave my office building but the door is blocked by a street person who goes berserk when I ask him to leave, slamming the door in my face a couple of times and not letting me out because he thinks I’m going to poison him. A male passerby tells the guy to leave so I can exit the building. The next day I find out that the same berserker assaulted a female customer at a nearby sandwich shop. That altercation ended when the shop owner pulled her gun out from underneath the counter, which convinced the berserker to leave.
  • December 13 – I clear street people from our office lobby entrance 3 times in 2 hours so staff can get into the building. The last incident becomes a trespass and results in me calling 911. My fear has given way to anger and frustration that this has now become part of my work day landscape.
  • December 17 – Assault at 3rd & Union at 4:30, near my bus stop.
  • December 24 – Assault near Wild Ginger at 7:49 PM, and a strong arm robbery at the other end of the block at 3rd & Pike, 45 minutes later.
  • December 26 – Harassment and threats at 3rd & Pike at 4 PM – which seems to have become a pattern on Sundays downtown. Also an assault at 125th & Aurora at 3 PM today, which makes me rethink my grocery store runs on weekends.
  • December 28 – Assault at 1400 block of 3rd Ave at 7:45 AM.
  • December 30 – Armed robbery 4th& Pike, 10:30 PM.

PERSONAL — In November and early December, I regain some productivity, and even started reading books again, a habit I hope to maintain as an alternative to doom-scrolling. That fades away in late December.

  • November 21 – I step out of my apartment to find a pile of bedding on my patio, left behind by a homeless person. At least they didn’t block my front door. I bundle their stuff into a clear plastic bag and take it to the curb, where it is carted off later by a homeless person who may or may not have been the owner.
  • December 12 – I go to a Seattle Krakens game, the first time I’ve seen live hockey and the first time I’ve been at ‘an event’ since December 2019. We lose 5-4 in OT but it’s a great game. It’s good to be out.
  • December 15 – I receive notice of a positive COVID-19 exposure. I had already taken files back to the office so I’m not as prepared to WFH for Lockdown Round II.
  • December 16 – Insomnia starts and I become symptomatic, but would test negative a few days later. I remained in quarantine for most of the following week as per current guidelines. MSNBC reports that Omicron cases are doubling every 2 days.
  • December 20 – Solstice. I cannot shake this cold. Insomnia has become wicked and I cannot focus on anything. Mom is on my mind more than usual, or perhaps ‘as much as usual’ since it’s the holidays. I hate the holidays. I make no plans.
  • December 22 – Everything feels wrong today. My vision for the next 2-5 years seems to be faltering. I wish I could regain some resiliency, confidence and a broader perspective. I feel like I’m in a boat with no oars or compass. I don’t like this at all.
  • December 25 – I spend Christmas afternoon with my brother and his wife, and we strategize how we might move forward. Marie and I talk about revising our respective business models. “Have a Plan B for everything,” Marie says…
  • December 27 – Seattle gets a blanket of snow. It’s 17 degrees at my front door at 8:45 AM, temps are not expected to get above 24 degrees this week. I cancel a vet appointment I had tried to make since Thanksgiving. My insomnia has now swung the other direction and I’m sleeping 10-12 hours a day. I’m getting nothing done.
  • December 29 – I return to the office and find more tents and trash on Third Avenue, and now bonfires directly on the sidewalk. It’s dystopian. And it’s 24 degrees so I don’t call the police, but I keep watch to make sure tents don’t go up in flames in front of the boarded up abandoned buildings. The street cleaners don’t know how to handle the hot ash…

IN OTHER NEWS — My notes regarding national and world events becomes sporadic as the news cycle has again become mostly overwhelming. I skim headlines and rarely read full articles in an attempt to limit my screen time and reign in my negative outlook. Some days I’m more successful than others…

  • November 17 – the QAnon Shaman is sentenced to 3 years in prison.
  • November 19 – Rittenhouse is found innocent on all charges related to 5 counts ranging from reckless endangerment, to murder during a BLM rally. He is later hailed as a hero by members of the GOP and extreme right.
  • December 9 – the Jan6 Commission hold Mark Meadows in contempt for failing to appear at a deposition. Meadows claims executive privilege for information he has already released to the Commission, and has already published in his book.
  • December 11 – Ann Rice, Gothic novelist, dies, age 80.
  • December 19 – Carlos Marin, while on tour with the pop-opera group Il Divo in the UK, dies after a sudden 3 day ICU stay for COVID-19 complications. He was 53.
  • December 21 – More jail terms for Jan6 insurrectionists – a 6 year term for one, and a 4 year term for a Seattleite, I think both charges are for assaulting officers. News outlets now frame the insurrection as a coup, as more facts come to light about the coordinated efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
  • December 23 – Trump takes his case to the Supreme Court to block the Jan6 Commission from accessing his personal and business documents, after losing his case in every single lower court. Jan6 Commission starts public hearings in January.
  • December 25 – Desmond Tutu dies today, age 90.
  • December 31 – Betty White, famed actress and comedian, dies 17 days short of her 100th birthday.

I’d like to end this blog with wishes for a Happy New Year, but to do so feels disingenuous. I have recently started saying that “my glass is half full…of rocks.” So let my last words for 2021 be: “May your glass of rocks soon turn to wine.” Everything returns in its changed form. Be the best you can be, do the best that you can. I will do my best to do the same. And together we shall persevere.

Published by augustphoenixhats

I'm a self taught hat maker, working in rescued textiles and found objects. My designs are inspired by my travels and historical studies. Learn more about me and my hats at https://augustphoenixhats.com/.

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