During the last week, the world passed a gruesome milestone: More than 1 million people have now tested positive for the coronavirus. Countless others are out there undetected or undiagnosed. As a record 6.6 million people file for unemployment in the US, a sign of the destruction brought by the pandemic beyond simply the sickness, you might be wondering how bad things are going to get. The answer, worryingly, may be “really bad,” especially because Americans didn’t stay at home like they were told to. Good job, everyone. Still. At least Dolly Parton continues to be the best.
Coronavirus has started to impact celebrities in ways beyond just events being canceled or Tom Hanks being trapped in Australia. (He’s back now, by the way.) British comedian Eddie Large died from Covid-19-related complications, as did US musician Adam Schlesinger, whose work you’ve enjoyed whether you were a fan of Fountains of Wayne, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, or the movie Josie and the Pussycats. (Those who remember That Thing You Do, yes, that was him, too.) It is, sadly, likely just the start of a trend that will continue for some time.
With all this going on, it almost feels churlish to ask what people are talking about. They’re talking about coronavirus, of course. That’s not to say that there weren’t other topics of conversation online, but there’s been a lot less chatter about, say, Lindsay Lohan’s musical comeback, or the Barefoot Contessa’s giant cocktails than you might expect. What have people been talking about this week? Well, this.
I’m Not Saying a Month Can Be Haunted, but Let’s Appreciate That It’s Not March Anymore, Agreed?
What Happened: Take a minute and appreciate this small, but important, fact: March is over.
What Really Happened: Let’s start things off, unusually for once, with some good news. Just take a look at the calendar: It’s April. It really is. We made it, even though March felt like one of the longest months in recent memory. As it neared its end, many couldn’t quite bring themselves to believe it could really happen.
The increasingly popular meme quickly spread throughout an internet impatient for an increasingly crappy month to just end already. Things were slightly complicated by the fact that March actually was longer than people expected, thanks to the last day that everyone forgets every single year. (Well, aside from those with March 31 birthdays, presumably.)
In fact, March—a month in which basically everything, including life as we knew it, was canceled in response to a global pandemic that decimated everything, including the economy—felt so cursed and immortal that some really couldn’t bring themselves to think it could actually end. After all, we’ve all seen those horror movies where the villain seems to be dead before making an “unexpected” comeback, right?
But now, here we are in a new month and everything is going to be … better?
The Takeaway: This feels about right.
The Many Press Conferences of President Trump
What Happened: As the US continues to face a rapidly increasing number of new coronavirus cases and fatalities, President Trump has been holding a series of daily press briefings—some somber, some touting his popularity on Facebook and his friend who makes pillows.
What Really Happened: As many Americans wrap up Week 3 of staying at home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, President Trump’s commentary on the Covid-19 outbreak seems to be changing. After weeks of misleading information, wishful thinking and bravado, Trump opened last week with a welcome announcement that signaled a potential evolution of attitude.
The extension of federal social distancing guidelines was welcome, given previous suggestions that, perhaps, the president would ignore medical experts in favor of possible economic success. But it wasn’t all he got up to during his first press conference of the week. He also unveiled a Covid-19 test device. Kind of.
Tuesday, however, saw a newly somber Trump try to lead a press conference to reveal some admittedly hard facts.
A day later, it was easy to see that, as reported, Trump was merely playing the media by pretending to be serious about coronavirus now. How easy? Well, this was Wednesday’s press conference.
The Takeaway: About that last bit …
The Eye of Sauron Is Watching (and Screaming)
What Happened: For anyone wishing there was a physical, tangible object that personified the emotional and mental turmoil that folks are collectively feeling these days, the powers that be in New York City stepped up to the plate in an entirely unexpected manner last week, transforming the traditionally staid and solid Empire State Building into a metaphorical light show that really spoke to the populace’s existential screaming.
What Really Happened: It’s one thing to say that life has changed as a result of the coronavirus. It’s clearly true, as a recent poll demonstrated; Covid-19 is changing lives, perhaps even permanently, but there’s one problem. It’s all internal, because people are literally all closed in their houses and apartments. Aside from shots of empty streets and wandering animals, there’s not been any great visual signifier of the existential dread of the new era. If only someone could come up with a way of solving that problem.
See? That’s what we’re talking about.
No wonder it’s a city that never sleeps, with all that going on. But how did people across the internet take this well-intentioned disturbatron?
I mean, that seems about right. Don’t worry, though; everything is working out just fine. Apparently.
The Takeaway: In summary, this apparent tribute-to-emergency-workers/warning-to-everyday-citizens-that-they’re-now-living-in-Hell-Gotham is certainly doing its job, even if it’s not entirely clear just what its job actually is.
What They Don’t Want You to Know About Tectonic Plate Activity
What Happened: Yes, there was an earthquake in Idaho last week. No, that doesn’t mean that there’s about to be a volcano erupting. Those two things really can be entirely disconnected, despite the claims of some folks online.
What Really Happened: Look, we get it. Everyone’s stuck inside, going slightly mad and fearing the worst while simultaneously looking for a little bit of excitement. We understand. We binged Tiger King just like you did. Still, does that really explain last week’s ridiculous Idaho panic? It started Tuesday.
All’s well that ends well, right? Well, not exactly, as it turned out. Because a certain number of people weren’t convinced it was the end just yet.
Unfortunately, right now it feels like everyone except for parents has a little too much time on their hands, so expect Yellowstone truthers to emerge within days. What’s Qanon up to these days, anyway?
The Takeaway: Admittedly, the way that things have been going lately, this feels just a little too appropriate.
The Coronavirus Saga’s First Big Heist
What Happened: In retrospect, it’s actually somewhat surprising that it took this long for enterprising thieves to realize that everyone self-quarantining and self-isolating means precious items are being left less protected. Is anyone in the market for an early van Gogh?
What Really Happened: You … You can all read Dutch, right?
OK, fine. For those who can’t read Dutch or use Google Translate, here’s what’s going on: At the start of last week, someone took advantage of social distancing and self-quarantine to break into the Singer Laren museum and steal a painting by Vincent Van Gogh. You know, as you do.
Yes, of course they do, because they’re van Goghs. He’s kind of a big deal. As if the story wasn’t exciting enough as it was—and it was, because art theft, come on—there were a couple of coincidences about the timing of the heist that helped the story trend worldwide.
It’s true; the painting was stolen on van Gogh’s birthday, which really does feel like a particularly unfortunate anti-present. But we said that there were a couple of things, right?
No, it certainly can’t be a coincidence. But what could it all mean?!
Clearly, it’s the only explanation that makes sense.
No. No. We’re better than that pun.
The Takeaway: Now, this is the pun that we’ve been looking for.
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