Following up from my last post, the American Association of Geographers has now cancelled its annual meeting in Denver, scheduled for April 6-10. This was the right call, and over 60 percent of respondents to the AAG’s one-question survey a few days ago survey said they were cancelling or discouraged from attending.
Now across the EU, the US, and elsewhere, large events are being cancelled and travel is being tightly restricted. Why Donald Trump decided to suspend travel from the EU but not the UK at this point (and without informing the Canadian government beforehand) is unclear because coronavirus is already moving through the US via community spread, but this is the logic of walls and not solidarity. Meanwhile, testing is wildly irregular in the US, hospitals in Italy are at 200 percent capacity, the ultra-rich are retreating to underground bunkers, Uber is pretending it has employees that can stay home from work, and my god, the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be played with no fans and, increasingly likely, not at all (this last move, definitely a good idea, though it pains me to say it). Senegal, by contrast, with a per capita GDP of just over US$1000, is working with the UK and researchers from other parts of the world to rapidly develop a COVID-19 test that can give results in under four hours.
So everyone, hunker down, find a good book or ten, call your elderly relatives to check in on them, wash your fucking hands, and know that sooner or later, we’re going to have to learn some lessons from the failures of unrestrained market capitalism, government indifference, and global inequalities. Mike Davis explains it all here in his usual terrifying but prescient way.