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This article was published on May 19, 2020

Freedom oranges and avocado toast

Freedom oranges and avocado toast

Coronavirus in Context is a weekly newsletter where we bring you facts that matter about the COVID-19 pandemic and the technology trying to stop its spread. You can subscribe here.

Hola pandemic pals,

Remember when everyone was ripping on millennials for eating avocado toast? The big idea was that they were spoiled because they smeared expensive fruit on their toast instead of butter or jam like everyone else. But I live in Mexico where avocados are very cheap. And, even during a pandemic, they’re plentiful year-round. From what I understand, it’s pretty hard to even get an avocado in some places in the US right now, and they were always expensive there.

(Above: a restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio on 17 May)

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I’m eating avocado toast on the daily, but there’s a sweeping beer shortage where I live. And in China, nobody’s buying “freedom oranges.” These, and other imported fruits, are primarily purchased by the middle class in China. As you can imagine, China’s economy is in pretty poor shape. The country’s beginning to reopen, but it won’t be the same China that its citizens left when the quarantines began.

Unfortunately for all of us, there will be no return to normal. Not for China or any other country. The world has irrevocably changed in the wake of COVID-19. Economies have shifted, workforce dynamics have been overhauled, and absolutely nobody knows what the hell is going to happen as governments around the world shift focus from preventing deaths to balancing budgets.

Which, sadly, has already begun to happen. Ready or not, crowds are coming back.

Still, there is no more business as usual. There’s a reason why most politicians are still working from home despite conservatives calling for an end to lockdowns (hint: It’s COVID-19).

And you need look no further than big tech to see what kind of insight world’s richest companies have into the pandemic: from Facebook to Microsoft, most are offering employees the option to work at home through at least the rest of 2020.

(Above: Alabama beach crowds return on 18 May.)

For better or worse, the people who can’t do their jobs from home are likely about to start feeling the pressure to rejoin the public workforce. That means the wheels of capitalism will begin to turn again, but it doesn’t mean we’ll go back to “normal.”

I can’t help but wonder how long it’ll be before the “millennials” in the US get their avocado toast back or the Chinese middle-class gets its freedom oranges back. And gosh, I just can’t wait to get beer back here in Mexico! I’m not a huge drinker, but I like to crack open a Corona or Budweiser every now and again.

(Above: A restaurant in Colorado on 12 May.)

However, I wouldn’t risk people’s lives just to enjoy a cold one again. I’d rather toast the eradication of COVID-19 than give up halfway through the fight.

I’ll lift my glass when the time is right. And I’ll be raising it in honor of those who listened to medical experts advice instead of politicians.

By the numbers:

Last week we looked at the nations who have tested the biggest % of their population.

This week we’re looking into the number of patients with COVID-19 versus the number considered to be in critical condition for the top five countries by infection, according to Worldometers.

  • USA: active cases 1,105,234 / critical cases 16,870
  • Russia: active cases 299,941 / critical cases 2,300
  • Spain: active cases 278,188 / critical cases 1,152
  • Brazil: active cases 261,567 / critical cases 8,318
  • UK: active cases 246,406 / critical cases 1,559

Twitter thread of the week:

What to read

AI still can’t save us, Elon’s an idiot, and Jamie Dimon is the last person who should be talking about an inclusive economy…
? US Conservatives still haven’t met a conspiracy theory too stupid to promote. Here’s what they’re saying about Dr. Fauci now. (Politifact)
? COVID-19 cost billionaire Elon Musk some money, so he fought the law and won, then propped up incels on Twitter. Maybe things really are getting back to normal.
? A new coronavirus vaccine from Moderna shows promise! (New York Times)
? No. NO NO NO NO! So-called “personalized AI” can’t determine who will and won’t get COVID-19.
? Trump is blaming the WHO for his missteps, now he wants to make another by leaving it. (New York Times)
? Something’s fishy about the UK’s COVID-19 numbers. (The Conversation)
? This driver claimed the coronavirus was a hoax. Now he’s recovering after nearly a month in the hospital and his spouse is in critical condition. He doesn’t think it’s a hoax anymore. (NBC News)
? Microsoft is making its COVID-19 data available to everyone!
? Okay, you know the shit’s hit the fan when Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, says the pandemic shows we need a more “inclusive” economy. (CNBC)


We know, we know… there are a million articles out there on how to stay sane at home: what yoga moves to do, what sourdough bread to bake, how to pick up a phone and actually call someone… so we’re adding to the noise!

In this section, one of our writers will share one weird internet thing they’ve been obsessing over while in lockdown. This week’s comes from Neural’s own Thomas Macaulay!

Life under lockdown is pretty isolated if you live alone like me, so I’ve been trying to adopt a puppy to keep me company.

It’s not been an easy process. Canines have become hot property in the UK during the pandemic, so I’ve got a lot of rivals for their affections. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home says its rehoming figures have doubled compared to this time last year, while the Dogs Trust has reported a 25% rise in adoptions since the outbreak. They’re also understandably concerned that new owners could abandon their pooches once lockdown is lifted.

In addition, a lot of rescue dogs are housed overseas, and can’t be transported to the UK under the current COVID-19 travel restrictions.

I’m not going to give up though. My parents cruelly deprived me of a dog as a child, but they can’t do anything about it now. And as someone still haunted by ads warning that a dog is for life, not just for Christmas, I wouldn’t even dream of abandoning my future pooch.


We’ll be back next Tuesday. And every Tuesday after that until the pandemic ends. Because we’re all in this together.

In the meantime, here’s a few links to help you manage the misinformation as the disease hits its peak:

The Center for Disease Control’s myth-busting section on COVID-19

After Recovering from COVID-19, are you immune?

John Hopkins Univeristy COVID-19 myth vs fact

Don’t believe everything you read on social media. Stay healthy and take care of each other,


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