‘Are we a bubble or a pod?’ I asked Camp as we sat down on his porch for our Thirsty Thursday meeting. It was a nice sunny day and the birds were going crazy.
‘I guess you and I are a pod since we spend a lot of time together, as are Muriel and I and you and Clare. If the four of us get together then we’re a bubble since we amalgamated two pods.’
‘Are you making this up?’ I asked ‘and what are the criteria?’
‘Well, we all have practised distancing for over six weeks now and we have not had any close contact with anybody. Even at the stores we respect our physical spaces and none of us are sick. That’s pretty well it. Of course, all of us have to be comfortable to form this bubble.’
‘All right, I think we’re good to go. Let’s have dinner together with Clare and Muriel, but no hugs or kisses.’
‘And we also know now that a rampant community spread, as was feared and even predicted a month ago, has not materialized. Instead we had outbreaks in clusters and hot spots like care homes, jails and some industrial clusters like the ones at the chicken and meat processing plants. Our national covid related death rate amounts to 1 in 10’000, which is about half of the US and a third of Sweden’s rate.
‘I guess it’s not the plague or the so-called Spanish flu,’ I said.
‘Not even close. The black death apparently wiped out a third of humanity and the 1918 flue killed 650’000 Americans, mostly young ones, in their twenties.
‘In Montreal where they have been over 2000 fatalities already, covid-19 is a serious pandemic, compared to SARS, where 44 people died in Toronto alone – and which was considered a national disaster.’
‘Even here on the Sunshine Coast people are very much afraid and suspicious, practically assuming that everybody is a potential carrier and all contact needs to be avoided. Some go to great length and wear Klan hoods and masks with ski goggles. Any other time this would be considered ridiculous.’
‘We both concentrated on our beers; cans again, from the local brewery.’
‘I believe that the material, economic and mental health toll will have far greater consequences than the virus itself,’ I said. ‘The devastating impact on small businesses, cultural events and jobs, the lack of money and the unknown future creates a lot of anxiety and fear which manifests in depression, other health distresses and domestic dysfunction.’
‘You know which term I really hate?’ Camp asked.
‘Let me guess? Social distancing.’
‘Exactly. It’s physical distancing that’s required, not social distancing. It’s just such a bad term and not at all relevant. It should be social connections and physical space respect.’
‘Here in BC, thanks to vigilance and good leadership, we are living in a big bubble, which should soon lead to the slow opening of businesses and even restaurants. Let’s face it, nobody is getting sick here shopping or walking the dog,’ I said.
‘I’m with you. What really surprised me is how busy the bookstore has been since I opened the doors a couple of weeks ago. We were never asked to close in the first place. The fact that libraries are closed and people have to stay at home means they have time to read. I’ve had lineups at the counter, six feet apart, almost like Christmas.’
‘And I’ve never seen so many people lining up at the hardware store, from the minute it opens until closing time there is a continuous stream of shoppers. And golf courses are open again. Maybe we should take up golf,’ I said.
‘I think I missed that opportunity and I couldn’t hit a golf ball with a hockey stick and besides I don’t wear shorts and ball caps.’
‘Drinking beer is a respectable outdoor sport,’ I said.
‘To our pod,’ Camp toasted.