My life has changed. I unfortunately get up later because I’ve been up late the night before: 2 AM, 3 AM, 4 AM. Of course I did fall asleep during whatever TV program I was watching so I guess the “nap” counts as sleep. I am no longer allowed to go to the exercise room in my senior housing facility so I look for exercise for seniors on YouTube. Low-impact aerobics, weight training for seniors and beginners. I avoid the young trainers in spandex. What do they know about senior bodies? They can go down in a squat and get up in a second. It takes me at least 5 seconds. There are some real “senior fitness trainers” on YouTube. Thank God. At least they look like real human beings and have experienced the slowdown of the body. There is, however, a young Australian man who teaches one how to use weights. He has a pleasant accented voice and is easy on the eyes so he passes the “no spandex” test.
When you exercise with someone on YouTube, it feels like you have a personal trainer without paying the money. You can pause the video if you need to catch up or even fast forward through the exercises you hate. You can repeat the whole thing if you are inclined or just replay the parts you like when you like. Although this is convenient exercise, it doesn’t take the place of exercising in person. When you have several ladies over the age of 70 and 80, it tends to be inspiring. Watching these ladies doing exercises tells you that as you age, you can still be active, defying the myth of being a lump of coal and just waiting to die.
Although the coronavirus makes you think of dying. How many people have been tested positive for the virus? How many people have been hospitalized? How many people have died?
Never before has the U.S. been through such a pandemic since the influenza pandemic of 1918. In the 1918 pandemic, 500 million people worldwide were infected, approximately one-third of the planet’s population. An estimated 20 million to 50 million victims died. 675,000 of which were Americans.
As of December 8, 2020, there were 14,823,129 reported cases in the U.S. and it is increasing by the minute. 284,546 deaths have been reported and still climbing. 68,541,809 cases worldwide and 1,562,014. deaths.
That is scary and it seems like it is the pandemic of 1918 again, but worse unless we stop it or at least contain it.
We are asked to Shelter-in-place. Not to go out unless it is absolutely necessary such as a doctor’s appointment or getting food supplies. If we do go out and encounter other people, we are asked to stay at least 6 feet away. We cannot physically visit our elderly parents (not that we are not considered elderly ourselves.) In fact on my mother’s birthday on March 14th, I brought a card and cupcake to my mom’s senior home. I could not go in but gave the card and cake to the caregiver at the door. It turns out that my mom was in the dining room which had a window that I could see through from the outside. The window had a screen so the view was not the best but I could see her. I yelled to my mom, “Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you!” in Chinese. My mom heard me and yelled back to me that she was OK. My sister came up with even a more clever strategy. She Facetimes a caregiver and the caregiver takes her phone to my mom so my sister and mom can both see each other. Thank goodness for technology.
It does not pay to be a news junkie during this pandemic. Everyday there is an increase in confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths. The virus seems to be increasing in the U.S. making the U.S. the distinct title of having the most cases out of all the countries around the world. The health care professionals have a shortage of protective gear: face masks, gloves, gowns. Hospitals also have shortages of ventilators. The nurses and doctors are overworked and understaffed. The number of confirmed cases is underreported because only the people with symptoms can be tested. There are thousands without symptoms who have not been tested. Doctors have to make choices as to who gets a ventilator or to hook up more than one person to a ventilator. Sometimes the doctors triage who gets treatment: a young person or an elderly person, kind of like a Sophie’s Choice. Which of your kids will you save? Unfortunately, if you are over 65, you are considered elderly and you may be out of luck.
The pandemic also points out the disparity between the rich and the poor; those with healthcare and those without. Many celebrities brag that they are virus-free but how did they get the test in the first place? If one has to have symptoms, go to the doctor, have the doctor refer you to your county health department, then the health department says whether or not you can have a test. Many “ordinary” people have to wait days, weeks, months to get a test and wait more days to get the test results. Those are the lucky ones. Some people don’t get tested despite the fact the White House keeps stating that there are plenty of tests and the virus is under control. Yeah if it is under control, why is there an increase in people having the virus and more people dying. Or maybe that is the control. Maybe these people were supposed to die.
Until now, pandemics only happened in the movies. Of course there was the H1N1 and Ebola crisis but I don’t remember it being so bad or maybe I don’t want to remember. Schools are closed. People are told to work from home which is nice if you can but many people cannot. Those first responders and health care professionals have to see patients in person. Grocery store workers have no choice because people need to get food. Unfortunately, restaurant workers and retail salespeople are the casualty of this invisible war. Many are laid off because their industry is considered non-essential.
There is a rise in assaults against Asians and Asian Americans in the US and worldwide. There was a report of 2,583 incidents reported to the STOP AAPI HATE online reporting center, created just on March 19. The reports average 100/day with 32% in California, a supposed liberal, diverse, tolerant state. (It is so nice to be tolerated.) People have been yelled at, spit on, coughed on, denied access to a hotel and threatened with violence. Asians and Asian Americans have been told to go back where they came from which seems a contradiction in terms since many Asian Americans were born here. This has happened in grocery stores, shopping malls, and even on public streets. People feel entitled to assault other people because they may resemble Chinese and the coronavirus started in China. It doesn’t help that our White House fearless leader keeps calling the virus the “Chinese virus” or “Kung Flu.” No harm intended of course.
This smacks of the environment that caused the murder of Vincent. In Michigan 1983, three white auto workers who were laid off, beat and killed Vincent. Because of the success of the Japanese car imports in competition with US automakers, the autoworkers harbored resentment toward the Japanese. They blamed the Japanese for their unemployment. They beat Vincent severely with a baseball bat. He died four days later. Vincent had been out with friends for his bachelor party. His wedding never happened. Vincent was Chinese not Japanese.
The perpetrators were first charged with second-degree murder but then were convicted of manslaughter. In a plea bargain, they received a fine of $3,000, ordered to pay $780 in court costs and given three years of probation. So is Vincent’s life only worth $3,000? I don’t think his mother thought so.
But the discrimination and violence goes even further back than that. There was the 1871 massacre of Chinese in Los Angeles where 500 whites and mestizos entered Chinatown and robbed, shot and lynched a number of Chinese because they felt the Chinese took away their jobs.
Out of the 500 rioters who carried out the assault, 10 were arrested and charged, 8 were convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to San Quentin. Their conviction was overturned on appeal.
My family is not new to such assaults. I remember being called Ching Chong Chinamen in elementary school. My family had to deal with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 for several generations.
On March 25, 1902, my great uncle Yuen Ming Wong died after being thrown from his wagon according to The San Francisco Call newspaper, when a “bad white boy struck the horse with a stone, causing the animal to plunge violently, the jolt throwing Wong on his head in the street. Deputy Coroner Brown – was unable to find any eyewitnesses of the assault.” The headline read: BAD BOY CAUSES THE DEATH OF A CHINAMAN. Wong Yuen Ming’s Horse, Struck With a Stone, Runs Away and Kills Him.” Of course, the horse did it.
Submitted by Jean Wong, San Mateo County – Millbrae.