Joke and Dagger: Quarantine

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    HELLO dear reader, and welcome back.

    Today I will set aside my usual rants about this hopelessly and breathtakingly incompetent Duterte regime, and focus instead on the present efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19, including some talking points on the enhanced community quarantine currently in effect on the entire Luzon island.

    COVID-19 (the name of the disease caused by the virus, which is, by the way, pronounced “vīrəs” and not “veerus”) is here, and it is here to stay. With the enhanced community quarantine, it is our hope that it doesn’t stay for long.

    What is this “enhanced community quarantine?” In a nutshell, government has prohibited mass gatherings and will try to keep everyone home. The majority of businesses have been forced to close up temporarily. Government offices have reduced its own workforce to only the bare minimum needed for frontline services. Local governments have imposed curfews as well.

    The objective of all this, in theory, is to minimize the movement of people and to avoid people being in close proximity with others. The logic is that if people don’t move around too much or come into contact with many people, the virus cannot spread as quickly as it ordinarily would. This will keep our health system from collapsing from the sheer influx of potentially infected patients, and give medical science more time to develop a vaccine.

    So to help this come to fruition, here’s what we can do: First, stay home. If you are work in one of the exempted businesses and cannot work from home, then please take the necessary precautions. Have a mask on you, use it when appropriate. Practice social distancing which, let’s face it, is nothing more than observing personal space plus maybe half a meter more. Maybe we can call it “enhanced personal space.”

    An aside. If you need to commute to work, please be aware that national government has banned all public transportation, including taxis and TNVS. Local governments, on the other hand, appear to have some discretion on allowing tricycles to remain in operation, with restrictions. Contact your local government and your place of work and see what arrangements can be made for your safe transport. I’ve read that the Office of the Vice President is making arrangements for transport for health workers, so if you’re in the medical field you may want to keep an eye out for that.

    Another aside. I know that many of us do not have the resources to survive an entire month without income. There are government efforts to mitigate this. It may not be enough. Contact your barangay officials and see what else may be needed that you can contribute directly if they are amenable to that sort of arrangement.

    Second, if you’re leaving home, make sure it’s for medical purposes, or to buy food and other essentials. Yes, it’s okay to buy tingi if that is what your budget allows. No, do not hoard food. Or hand sanitizer. Or toilet paper. Or *anything.* Just, don’t.

    Yes, some restaurants can still deliver food, if that’s how you roll. Be kind and please tip the delivery people generously.

    Speaking of which. If you live or work where there are security guards or maintenance staff still reporting for work, please give them something extra like food and water. They are among the most economically vulnerable for the next few weeks.

    Third, regularly wash your hands with soap and water. For at least twenty seconds. There are many ways to count up to twenty in your head. Popular ones include singing “Happy Birthday” twice, or reciting the Team Rocket introduction verbatim. My personal favorite is a stanza from “Killing In The Name Of” by Rage Against The Machine. Take a guess which one.

    Fourth: Coordinate with your barangays. They are government’s first responders and fastest link to your city or municipal government should the need arise.

    Fifth: Pressure your House representatives to pass the supplemental budget bill for DOH. While you’re at it, pressure them into pressuring the DOH to procure more testing kits. The more LGUs with testing capabilities, the better. The more we can test persons under investigation for possible COVID-19 infections, the more we can determine the extent and location of these infections, and adjust our actions and policies accordingly.

    But hey, if all else fails, we can, as one doctor suggested, count the dead. Not that we’ve stopped counting the dead since 2016, this will just fall into another category of people dying under Duterte’s watch.

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