Tel Aviv Diary March 10-14, 2020 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - March 10-14, 2020- Karen Alkalay-Gut

March 10-14, 2020

March 10, 2020

Although Oren called the health services and reported our situation as soon as we returned from Egypt and we were informed by some phone calls that someone would be back in touch, no one was. and now that i spent the night coughing we finally persisted and stayed on hold until we reached someone who promised to come and check. so now we'll know if we didn't spread it all over. I mean no one was worried enough about Egypt until - literally - yesterday. so ptobably that's why they didn't take us seriously when we complained and didn't tell us to stay home. but we did - most of the time. so if we have it we've only contaminated the people we love most .... Oh well, they'll probably test us by tonight and anyway we're in quarantine until next tuesday..

Nope. nobody came by with a test. No one even called. And we seem to be doing fine. But what if we did have Corona? In Italy the numbers are so high because everyone gets TESTED! if no one is tested, and everyone is in quarantine, all that is done is that everyone is panicked but our numbers are low. Here are my suggestions. 1. get more labs authorized to analyze tests. we have 4 at most right now. 2. test the people in quarantine. 3. if they are quarantining everyone who comes into this country, they should test them. 4. check people by phone if they are in quarantine. there are people who live alone, and no one will know what happens to them.

Apparently none of these ideas have been implemented because WE DONT HAVE THE TEST KITS and they have to be brought from South Korea.

And now on to something a little less crazy. - Elephantine Island or Yav. I thought when i told my brother about visiting this amazing island on the border of Sudan , he'd be excited at the discovery of a Jewish community in Egypt over 2000 years ago. But he was totally informed about everything, including the papyri that document Jewish life in what was called Yev.. And it turns out that many people were more educated than I was. I couldn't even follow our guide's finger when he pointed out the column that was left of the temple. So my photos of the island are more about the beautiful view than the ruins of a jewish city. And I was very nervous because the local guides were getting very impatient about our guide speaking Hebrew. Only Egyptian guides are allowed to talk about Egypt. Apparently someone has mapped out the city through all the papyri -because so much of them have to do with property, business, marriages, etc. - so if they put them all together they know who lived where. now with that kind of information research, think of what they could do if the same people were checking out who has corona.

whoops, i slipped back into the present obsession.

I'm beginning to put together a reading list for the coming days: The Decameron and Camus' "The Plague, are heading my list so far. Any ideas?

March 11, 2020

So the Red Star of David finally called back and promised to come to check us for Corona later on. Sometime. If i have it, i've passed it on to people i love. that's not good.

I'll let you know.

No, they didn't show. and when i called, the guy said he didn't think i was even in line for a test. but then, he found my approved application and reported that it would take a few days. I actually don't think he had a clue, and i don't think any of them do. Cholera!

March 12, 2020

Last night at 11 a plastic-cased figure appeared and took Ezi's throat and nasal sample. Somehow I got skipped over. instead of complaining about what should be done i'm going to move into total escape mode. escape and survival.

when i get over this I'm going to reread Daniel Defoe's Journal of a Plague Year . As I recall, there's a point where he's sick, but not with the plague, and he writers " It was a very ill time to be sick in, for if any one complained, it was immediately said he had the plague; and though I had indeed no symptom of that distemper, yet being very ill, both in my head and in my stomach, I was not without apprehension that I really was infected; but in about three days I grew better; the third night I rested well, sweated a little, and was much refreshed. The apprehensions of its being the infection went also quite away with my illness, and I went about my business as usual."

That's what I hope happens to me.

but today got bad. i got tested and then i began to feel sick. so we went to bed and watched 'lawrence of arabia' - much bloodier than i remember. you can see we long for Egypt. But we're lucky we arent there now - the sandstorm and the floods must have killed what was left of the tourism. but then again, the entire world is suffering in some way. We have to learn from Boccaccio's characters who tell nasty and dirty stories to keep themselves distracted from the tragedy. i'm sure that a positive attitude help stave off disease.

And now that they're closing the schools until after spring break, humor is going to be even more important. my suggestion = they close the schools with the kids inside.

March 13, 2020

No results. does this mean i'm okay? or that they have messed up. Ezi was tested the night before and they promised results in 10 hours. he hasnt heard. maybe they think he's dead by now considering the results. Ah, reassurance is so comforting!

People say to watch funny movies, but i think the funniest things happen in life. Today's comic is Trump's designation of Corona as "The Foreign Virus." what a wonderful way to incite racism even in a simple title of a disease. I keep saying it over and over in my head, "The Foreign Virus," and i crack up. He's good, that Trump. He could have been a poet.

and if you need a map to know if your neighbors are infected it's here

we're clean. for the moment. still in quarantine until tuesday. but Oren has warned us to stay in quarantine after that too. that anyone who comes over has to wear a mask and have his hands purified. sounds doable. and i even feel better today. still coughing, but comforted in the knowledge that my flu is a cheap imitation of corona.

here are two tips to get us through: 1. hand purifier - mix alcohol with aloe vera. because aloe vera is so plentiful here it's easy. 2. shopping online. i shop at shufersal. usually the order is for the next day, but now that there are so many people stuck at home, the order can take several days. order ahead, and add as needed once you have the order date fixed. i also shop in my local grocery but he doesn't have everything i need. and one more: 3 use your time to stay in touch with people you love who are positive. my life is filled with critics and kvetchers and i'm not getting in touch even though i wonder if they are all right. Here's a sample conversation: "Hi... I want to say good shabbat." "Oh, you're alive? You remembered I exist? Such a busy person - a wonder you remember your old friend..."

now many are beginning to worry (although there seem to be bigger things to worry about) that there will not be enough matzos for Passover. Just think - everyone here is stockpiling food and the factories are so busy filling these orders that there is no time to clean up for kosher for Passover goods. So i started thinking about Elephantine Island again - 2500 years ago they got instructions from Jerusalem on how to observe the holiday here. Think of it - in every generation...

on a completely different subject, "Rum & Crop," a book of mine translated into Danish by Flemming Ravn, went to press today.

March 14, 2020

A good friend called to tell me that another friend is very upset with me because i didn't announce to the world that i was suspected of having corona. i didn't ever think i had corona until the last few days when my cold got so much worse. when we came home from Egypt we called the government health office and asked what to do. they said - go back to normal life. five days later they said = isolation. no test, just isolation. but we kept calling and asking for the corona test because Ezi is high risk. They said - we'll get back to you. that took a few more days. then they called and said - okay, we'll test you. He said, and my wife? They said - Why should we test your wife? She's sick. they said - still, no fever, no test. At last, they tested him, and the next day they tested me. In the meantime, it was announced that a Tel Aviv couple in their seventies who came from Egypt on March 5 tested positive. so i started getting a mess of phone calls. The first was from the National Health that our tests were okay and we can go outside when we've finished our 2 weeks of quarantine. Then came friends and foes. most people were warm and offered help. one - a former colleague - was angry that i didn't tell her where exactly i was before i went into quarantine. she's now a former friend.

why aren't we declaring a state of emergency? i don't mean to scare people. it's not that the situation is so bad healthwise, but that would free up money badly needed by people stuck at home and unable to go to work, people who have been let go because there is no tourism, no airlines, no theater, etc. some people don't have money to get through this month. and we need more respirators, more protection for health workers...

i know, it's all about politics. one extreme is Iran which isn't declaring its problem. i suspect there are other countries that don't have high results because they're not testing. maybe we aren't testing enough either.

oy, i decided to back-up this diary and began at the beginning to copy and paste everything on word. without reading. it took me all evening to do a single year - and not to read it was difficult. i know if i read it i'll be self-conscious. but it looks interesting. nice pictures.

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