Last night, I fell down a different kind of rabbit hole. Two months ago, when it became clear that libraries would be closing soon, I checked out several DVDs. I had wanted to see Contagion, which had become very popular in pay-on-demand streaming services--but I knew the library had copies, and I snagged one. I also checked out How to Survive a Plague. I had seen both movies when they came out (probably by way of the same DVDs), but I wanted to see them again.
We watched Contagion back in March, but I wanted to see it again, especially the first 10 minutes and the last 10. My spouse was teaching his Philosophy class from the comfort of the living room last night, so I put the DVD into my computer. Before I knew it, I had watched the whole movie again.
As I watched, I thought about how I'm seeing the movie differently, even though it's only been 2 months. Two months ago, parts of the movie seemed like a far stretch, like the Illinois-Wisconsin border being sealed, but in late May, it seems possible.
What seems most unrealistic is that the vaccine is developed and declared safe roughly 6 months after the disease starts. And we see lines of people day after day as they wait to be vaccinated. I hope to be wrong in my prediction, but I am willing to bet that there will be lots of resistance to a vaccine for COVID-19--IF we ever get one.
Watching How to Survive a Plague reminded me of how long it can take to find a cure, much less a vaccine. I watched this movie years ago, but I don't remember much of it. I watched half of it last night and then finished watching the rest this morning. I found it both compelling and boring, at the exact same time--but I have the ability to rest in multiple mysteries, so I kept watching it.
It's interesting to watch this film and watch all the shots of people in such close proximity, which feels so hazardous right now. There's historical footage of groups of activists on a plane or on a bus, and part of me shudders. I have spent a lot of time in the past few weeks thinking about what 6 feet of distance means and staring at the AC ducts trying to determine air flow while I think about how the chairs should be spaced in classrooms.
It's also stunning to watch the bits of political footage and to realize that we're seeing all these same mistakes again--and this time, it's with a disease that's more transmissible than AIDS and impacts more people across a wider variety of communities.
Insert a heavy sigh here.
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