52: “Alone, Together” – Part II: In the Beginning

Six months ago, very few people knew what ‘sheltering in place’ or ‘flattening the curve’ meant. Today, we live in a new world, and it’s often hard to remember what it was like at the beginning.

On January 14, 2020 – exactly half a year ago – even Wuhan wasn’t yet under lockdown. There had been but a handful of reported cases outside of China, and for most of us “Corona” was – first and foremost – a refreshing beer. By February, COVID-19 was already starting to seem like a global threat. But while governments were desperately trying to piece together adequate responses, most ordinary people went on with their daily lives. Before long, however, everyone was checking the news incessantly, and looking for answers to a million menacing questions: How deadly is this disease? Is it just a bad flu or the end of times? Is COVID-19 going to affect my summer plans? Postpone the Olympics? Should we stop taking the kids to visit Grandma and Grandpa? Soon, masks and gloves were impossible to find. Hand sanitizer became the new gold standard. And sure enough, it didn’t take long before people all around the world started getting sick and dying in large numbers.

With all that’s gone on over the past six months, it’s easy to forget – or at least mis-remember – what it all felt like at the start. Our episode today takes us back to those early days of panic and confusion, and introduces us to two trailblazers – a nurse and a patient – who have no difficulty conjuring up the terror and uncertainty of that initial period.

The episode was mixed by Sela Waisblum and sound-designed and scored by Joel Shupack with music from Blue Dot Sessions. The end song, “Yamim Shel Kolnoa” (“Cinema Days”), is performed by ‘HaTov, HaRa VeHaNa’ara’ (Josie Katz, Benny Amdursky and Israel Gurion). The lyrics were written by Ehud Manor and the melody was composed by Shmulik Kraus.

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