Vern Lawson

I’ve been a Californian since 1946 and now I don’t recognize this topsy, turvy state.

When public officials strongly suggested that those who could, must adopt a self-quarantine, stay-at-home lifestyle, I quickly adopted a semi-hibernation status.  

I’ve hardly left my condo, but John Hall has been phoning me with his daily view of the region and providing me with groceries.

Early on, he told me about supermarket empty shelves as buyers scooped up toilet paper and other supplies.

On Monday, he drove me to the bank and showed me how to get some cash, using the outside system. On the way, he pointed out vast parking lots with just a few cars in view. He told me how symbols are used to keep customers at least six feet apart in the grocery lines.

Then on another call, he explained that shoppers had to line up to get inside the store, keeping crowding to a minimum.

Dennis Anderson has also done shopping for me.

Lynn DuPratt emailed me these notes:

“Today I went to CVS Pharmacy. I saw more people wearing masks than I have on past outings. There were tables placed in front of the pharmacy counter to keep people from getting too close to the workers behind the counter. Plenty of sanitizer to squirt on your hands was nearby, none for sale.  There were duct-taped Xs on the floor to show the six-foot mark between customers standing in the pharmacy line.

“When many of the shelves are bare or gappy, you get a pretty good idea of what people don’t want.  At Trader Joe’s yesterday, the chip shelves were fairly empty except for bags of crispy carrots, broccoli and okra.”

Bernie Guzenske urged me to check out the anecdote about the time when late night comic Johnny Carson falsely reported there was a toilet paper shortage.

Large amounts of TP packages were grabbed off the shelves by Carson fans.  It might be a good example of the placebo effect.  That was in 1973.  Now the reality is setting in, all across the country.

More news stories about viruses are appearing on the Internet.

One story explained that viruses have spent billions of years perfecting the art of surviving without living — a frightening effective strategy that makes them a potent threat in today’s world.

That’s especially true of the deadly new Coronavirus that has brought global society to a screeching halt.

It’s little more than a packet of genetic material surrounded by a spiky protein shell one thousandth the width of an eyelash, and leads such a zombie-like existence that it’s barely considered a living organism.

But, and this is really frightening, as soon as it gets into a human airway, the virus hijacks our cells to create millions more versions of itself.

There is a certain evil genius to how the Coronavirus pathogen works: It finds easy purchase in humans without them knowing. Before its first host even develops symptoms, it is already spreading its replicas everywhere, moving on to its next victim. It is powerfully deadly in some, but mild enough in others to escape containment. And, for now, we have no way of stopping it.

One of the best photos to illustrate the current lack of traffic in Los Angeles appeared on the Saturday front page of the Los Angeles Times, shot by Carolyn Cole.

It shows a straight down view of the 101 and 110 freeways where they meet in downtown, on Friday. There are just 14 vehicles on the ramps, compared with thousands that pass that way every day.

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