25 March 2020
The previous night, the president made a public statement accusing some governors and mayors of being overly concerned. He also asserted that the lockdown itself is being chaotically implemented and is overall an unhelpful measure, because the economy should not be stopped, for without work, people would die or starve to death. I don’t have to say how badly this resonated throughout the whole country, for even some of our president’s staunchest supporters are breaking alliances and ties.
Meanwhile, amongst my family members, we started to think about how to buy some more vegetables and fruits. We have a lot of rice, beans, corn and pasta. We don’t want to go to our usual supermarket because it is very far from here, and we also want to save some money since I received the last installment of my scholarship this month. My wife is still unemployed, and the government is cutting the university budgets… again.
Here in my city there is a bi-weekly street market where people with a low income can buy fruits and vegetables at a very reasonable price; far cheaper than the supermarkets. But, due to the outbreak, the street market is on hold and the sellers, such as local producers and small associations, can’t sell their products to help cover their everyday costs. One of these small associations, for example has gardens where people with HIV + can plant vegetables and sell it to have some income.
Anyway, the solution to our vegetable and fruit problem came out of the blue through a WhatsApp message in two forms. One of those associations is selling all their vegetables and fruits through WhatsApp messages, and they even deliver to you for a small fee. The city hall has also developed an app through which one can buy the same type of products from the other sellers who cannot go to the street market while it is suspended. We, and some of our neighbors, are going to buy some of these products, but we have to wait until next week because everything for this week has already sold out. I start to wonder if we have some new kind of economy on the move, one a bit outside of the usual economic market? Even with delivery, this is far cheaper than going to the supermarket and the food is far healthier. Are people going to change, at the least, part of their eating habits? One of the causes that have led to the emergence of pandemics is the industrial production of food (I am also thinking about the link between meat and antibiotic resistance) and yet, some people who, like my neighbors, are not aware of this, are working on some kind of solution and to enact a small change. I hope this is not wishful thinking, but I’d like to think that we’re finding some way through the rocks.
26 March 2020
My mother-in-law had to go to the hospital because she was burning up with fever. She has a lot of health problems and cannot go by herself: thus, my wife had to go with her, both to keep her company and to bring her back home. They went to main hospital here, some kind of ER, which is packed full of people every day. Due to the outbreak, we expected the place to be even more crowded and full of people, but, to our surprise, the hospital was empty and my mother-in-law has been received by the doctor in no time. A nurse told my wife that this is happening only because people are going to the other two main hospitals (both public, one tied the university and the other one run by the city) in Ponta Grossa, and there, things are going badly, really badly. Today, two more cases have been confirmed, and now we have three cases in my city. I believe the numbers are actually even higher and that in a few days, maybe that empty ER will be full of people. I really hope that I’m wrong.
I just heard an ambulance. There is a hospital nearby and I have to remember that, unfortunately, accidents and other diseases have not ceased.
Lucas Erichsen is finishing his Ph.D. in Social History at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He is based in Ponta Grossa – Paraná. His doctoral project deals with the history of slaughterhouses in the city of Rio de Janeiro during the 19th century using the environmental history, history of science and the human-animal history as the main theoretical tools. One part of the project, developed while undertaking a fellowship at the MPIWG, concerns the history of the first public slaughterhouse of Rio de Janeiro between 1808 and 1853.
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The Teach311 + COVID-19 Collective began in 2011 as a joint project of the Forum for the History of Science in Asia and the Society for the History of Technology Asia Network and is currently expanded in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science(Artifacts, Action, Knowledge) and Nanyang Technological University-Singapore.