Kamchatka in the time of COVID19 – 20 March 2020
I keep meaning to blog, as I sit here on the Kamchatka Peninsula.
First, let me say that I am fine, I was planning to be here through April or May, I am staying in a small flat belonging to a friend, and we are still in snowy if not “deep” winter. More snow predicted tomorrow. My house in Seattle is being maintained/occupied by my neighbor’s family members. All is fine there. My own family members are fine, to date; I worry especially about my mom, going on 95.
This is the 4th winter in a row I have spent here on Kamchatka, starting with a Fulbright in 2017. I had spent two previous winters, 2000-2001 and 2009-2010. Suffice to say I love winter, but also we spend this time writing papers from our summers of field research. There are a number of prior blogs about life here, especially during my Fulbright visit in 2017, e.g. Meet some Kamchatka geoscientists and earlier blogs. Meanwhile, this year...
I left Seattle, now a coronavirus epicenter, on 15 January 2020, when flights from China were being routed to specific airports (if I recall correctly), and before the Diamond Princess became a new vector of the disease. I didn’t think twice about flying to Key West to visit my sister, Time during which we participated in the Keys Women's March. I was on my way to visit Costa Rica with friends, organized by Byron Adams. and guided by Fabian Monge.
|In Costa Rica, our first night|
|My grand nieces, master skiers|
From Costa Rica, in early February, I flew to Boston to visit (in Framingham) and ski (in Vermont) with my niece’s family. Meanwhile, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was announced by WA state on 21 January 2020.
On 16 February I flew Boston-JFK-Moscow (SVO) (Aeroflot), arriving on 17 February, sleeping overnight at the airport, visited by my friend and colleague Vera. Departing 18 February, I flew from Moscow to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (Aeroflot), arriving 19 February. My primary host Tanya was ill with a cold virus and self-quarantining, so Andrei met me at the airport. I was myself beginning to get a cold (sore throat stage), so my first week on Kamchatka was low-key. Tanya and I took some winter walks and skied at least once, just along snowmobile trails, x-country.
By mid-February, it was clear that the world was changing quickly. I have followed the news and especially what’s happening in my home King County and at the University of Washington, where I maintain an office as a retired professor. Yesterday UW announced the death of a professor. Not someone I knew, but the first death to hit me more specifically. I have friends and colleagues in many countries, including Italy and other European nations that are being hit hard, and in Asia.
|Asia does not include Kamchatka! 19 Mar 20 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/coronavirus-maps.html|
|Europe does not include Russia! [let alone its Far East] 19 Mar 2020 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/coronavirus-maps.html|
Asia – I am geographically in Asia, but politically in Europe. What is happening in Russia, particularly the Russian “Far East” (Дальний Восток), where I am and plan to be? I can get by in Russian in the field and on the street (shopping, e.g.), but am by no means proficient in reading or understanding. So I rely on English-language news about Russia (both Russian and international in origin) and on my friends and colleagues telling me the news. For example, yesterday Tanya told me the Institute where we work (Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far East Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences) has started to implement preventative measures for COVID19.
This blog is getting long, so I will break, and later talk about what we are doing in general, and with regard to COVID19, which is not known to have arrived here yet. I wanted to share maps of COVID19 to show just how “un-affiliated” the Russian Far East seems to be – neither Europe, nor Asia. So I need to find Russia-specific places for maps of the virus’ spread in Russia.