Eating More Chocolate: A Cure for Pandemic Fatigue?

Just doing the local rounds and reading. One of three writers over at Naked Capitalism had this up on a small way escape the boredom of Covid.  It is more than just a promotion about chocolate and it does make you smile. When I was working in Riethim-Weilheim area of Germany near Tuttligen, on the weekend I would drive into Switzerland to a  Chocolatier in Schaffhausen and buy a nice box of chocolates to share with my German associates and then wander over to  Konstanz to explore along the lake.  Good stuff and it made friends. A little bit about the writer: Jerri-Lynn Scofield has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

I just finished compiling today’s Links and they are particularly dire. COVID-19 is not going away. There is no vaccine or cure in sight. Even some places that had seemed to control spread of the disease – much of Europe – are imposing more draconian restrictions, in response to an uptick in cases. The only positive thing I can think of to say is the virus does not seem to have evolved into a more virulent form and that treatment is getting better. Small comfort.

According to today’s New York Times, As the Coronavirus Surges, a New Culprit Emerges: Pandemic Fatigue:

The United States surpassed eight million known cases this past week, and reported more than 70,000 new infections on Friday, the most in a single day since July. Eighteen states added more new coronavirus infections during the seven-day stretch ending on Friday than in any other week of the pandemic.

In Europe, cases are rising and hospitalizations are up. Britain is imposing new restrictions, and France has placed cities on “maximum alert,” ordering many to close all bars, gyms and sports centers. Germany and Italy set records for the most new daily cases. And leaders in the Czech Republic described their health care system as “in danger of collapsing,” as hospitals are overwhelmed and more deaths are occurring than at any time in the pandemic.

The virus has taken different paths through these countries as leaders have tried to tamp down the spread with a range of restrictions. Shared, though, is a public weariness and a growing tendency to risk the dangers of the coronavirus, out of desire or necessity: With no end in sight, many people are flocking to bars, family parties, bowling alleys and sporting events much as they did before the virus hit, and others must return to school or work as communities seek to resuscitate economies. And in sharp contrast to the spring, the rituals of hope and unity that helped people endure the first surge of the virus have given way to exhaustion and frustration.

“People are done putting hearts on their windows and teddy bears out for scavenger hunts,” said Katie Rosenberg, the mayor of Wausau, Wis., a city of 38,000 where a hospital has opened an extra unit to treat Covid-19 patients. “They have had enough.”

Ann Vossen, a medical microbiologist in the Netherlands, where daily cases doubled this past week, said people across Europe “let go too much.” She added, “This is the result.”

What petulant children we are!

Because the virus – lacking any brain, or agency – doesn’t care how tired of the pandemic you might be.

Do you wish to get sick? Or not?

If the answer is you still want to avoid COVID-19, you must continue to do what we know for sure checks its spread. Wear a mask. Practice social distancing. Avoid unnecessary  social encounters and if they are necessary, hold them only outside. Wash your hands.

(I leave aside other, less universal advice: take certain supplements; exercise; gargle. Follow Florence Nightingale’s advice to her nurses for pandemic control: wash your face. There are things I’m doing personally but do not want to encourage others to take similar advice as we just don’t know. But even if it doesn’t help, my additional measures make me feel better, so I follow the ritual.)

I note that places which have managed so far to control the pandemic’s spread – Taiwan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Vietnam, South Korea. China – seem to continue to have the disease under control.

Let’s hope their success continues, as it provides an example for the rest of us, as well as means fewer people will suffer worldwide. Over to the NYT again:

In some parts of the world, behavior has changed and containment efforts have been tough and effective. Infections have stayed relatively low for months in places like South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and China, where the virus first spread. After a dozen cases were detected in the Chinese city of Qingdao, the authorities sought this past week to test all of its 9.5 million residents.

“We have very little backlash here against these types of measures,” said Siddharth Sridhar, an assistant professor of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong. “If anything, there’s a lot of pushback against governments for not doing enough to contain the virus.”

Petulant Children

I’m not particularly dense, nor am I especially irreverent. But it seems that for the moment. the last thing we can afford is the luxury of pandemic fatigue. No matter how strongly each of us would dearly love to return to the world as it used to be, what we called ‘normal’.

We must continue to avoid COVID-19.

But we can allow small, consistent pleasures: such as eating more locally produced chocolate.

Oh come on! I can hear some of you saying.

Do you have better ideas? If so, please share them.

Not only does eating chocolate make you feel better.

It may actually be good for you – as we are learning more about the health benefits of eating it in moderation.

Also, in the case of the local chocolate shop mentioned in another recent New York Times piece, ‘It’s Fall! Here We Are!’ A Beloved Chocolate Shop Returns, It supports a local small business with a long history. These businesses are particularly at risk, and need all the help – such as a share my paltry dollars – they can get.

Now, I’m not sure whether this would count as an essential business in any sense of the word. Yet it seems the tiny, narrow historic shop is trying to make sure people practice social distancing.

I suppose it remains up to each of us to decide whether the measures they are taking are sufficient to ensure customers maintain their health.. And maybe it would be best to encourage online sales and curbside pickups rather than making in-person sales.

Yet I do understand why patrons might risk the latter, particularly if they observe necessary precautions.

I still lament the closing of Mangel’s chocolate shop, in Chester, NJ, early in the 2000s. I remember well its slogan, “It’s not so sweet.” And that Mom patronised the shop, for its homemade solid Easter bunnies, its Christmas Santas, and its delicious fudge. The seven of us occasionally stopped in during my childhood, en route to my Aunt Stel and Uncle Joe’s to celebrate a holiday, before they retired to Florida in the 1970s. The shop was a bit out of the way once they moved, but we still made holiday pilgrimages there long afterwards. And then my parents also retired to North Carolina, and I didn’t have any reason to drive to Mangel’s.

So I hope for the best for Lee Sims chocolates.

Maybe an occasional small pleasure  such as a bite of chocolate can help forestall the completely understandable pandemic fatigue.

I shudder at the thought of a post-pandemic world that’s comprised only of Amazon and its analogues.