Corona Corruption, Eruption, Disruption
We had a strong turn-out Yesterday at Après Midi to hear Roni Beth Tower speak in spite of the Coronavirus scare. It was surprising on one hand, but on the other, I haven’t seen the French in a panic…at least not yet, and neither are we.
France’s culture minister, Franck Riester, who spent several days last week at the National Assembly, has the virus, where five other cases have been confirmed. As a result, there is an attempt to ask politicians to stop shaking hands (which they do a lot) or touching (even cheek-kissing) until the threat is no longer there. Fortunately, M. Riester had not been near President Emmanuel Macron for several days, but precautions are being put in place.
The most recent figures as reported by the French government are 1,412 cases have been reported with 25 deaths (as of Monday evening). In the Ile-de-France, 243 cases have been reported. Gatherings of over 1,000 people have been forbidden in a closed space. This means concerts are being canceled, including Madonna’s Paris concerts as part of her “Madame X” tour. Patty Sadauskas attended a Van Morrison concert last night at the Olympia that had not been canceled, but intelligently had been altered to the band giving two concerts, one at 7:30 p.m. and the other at 9:30 p.m., to audiences of less than 1,000 each. She and her friend lined up to enter and when the ushers’ clickers hit the 900 marks, they halted entry. With so many seats unfilled, Patty and her friend were able to move up to better seats. One person in the audience couldn’t curb his enthusiasm and shouted out to the band, “Thank you for playing!”
From a personal perspective, we’re experiencing lots of cancellations of people who were planning to travel here, to purchase or rent property, as well as visitors. Mostly I believe they aren’t so afraid of contracting the virus as worried they might end up quarantined or that too many public buildings might be closed. The restaurants and cafés seem to be about half-full rather than completely empty. Le Musée du Louvre has reopened but restricting entry to those who have already reserved a ticket online or those who benefit from free entry. Clearly, it’s on a case-by-case basis for the moment and we all sit with our eyes and ears glued to the news to determine how to react. But for now, the French seem calm and changing as little to their daily lives as possible. There are very few people on the streets wearing face masks from what I have noticed.
Yesterday, I reluctantly entered a pharmacy on rue de Bretagne to have a prescription filled (thinking that a pharmacy is a center of disease) and while I was there, asked if they were totally out of hand sanitizer. The pharmacist chuckled, then pointed to a stack of boxes they were receiving at that very instance of “Prevent,” the equivalent to Purell which is most well known.
Purell was the first-hand sanitizer to meet EcoLogo CCD-170 standards, made of ethyl alcohol (first introduced on the market in 1996) and as it turns out, the President of France’s office of GOJO Industries, the maker of Purell, is our client — an American for whom we found an apartment in which to live when he moved to Paris four years ago to run the company! He might not be happy to know that I purchased a competitive product — one liter for 15€ that will likely last me a lifetime, but that removed the worry of not having it when needed most.
When the scarcity of hand sanitizer was first reported, I texted him, “Hi. We are wondering how you’re handling the new surge in need for Purell!!! You must be going insane!?”
His reply, “C’est très fou!!! I happen to just arrive in the States for a week, and it’s crazy here.” He sent a link to watch a recent parody on Saturday Night Live (if you’re outside of the U.S., use a VPN selecting the U.S. in order to watch it). It’s worth watching for a big laugh at these stressful times!
We live in interesting times. First and foremost we’re concerned about our health. The financial losses we’ll deal with once we get this pandemic under control. How that will happen starts with all of us. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent or cure it. We can only avoid exposure to it, and it’s spread mainly from person to person. Close contact means less than six feet apart from one another, so even respiratory droplets from an infected person can infect another in relatively close contact. No coughing or sneezing allowed!
Protect yourself by washing your hands or cleaning them with hand sanitizer often. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands (not easy to do). Don’t shake hands or kiss anyone! People who are at a higher risk of getting sick, such as the frail or elderly, are at greater risk of death if they contract the virus.
If you’re sick, stay at home and get medical care. Wear a face mask around other people (if you’re not sick, no need, unless you’re around other people who are sick). Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze — use the inside of your elbow or tissue (better), that goes into the trash and wash your hands again and again and again, or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Keep all surfaces clean, especially those you touch regularly such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. Good disinfectants to use include diluted household bleach, ammonia, and alcohol.
But above all, don’t panic. Just get smart and stay healthy while we get hold of the pandemic!
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. I will be speaking at International Living’s Fast Track Europe Conference May 21-23, 2020 at the Crowne Plaza Vilamoura — Algarve, Portugal, so sign up to be there! And, mark your calendars for our own Living and Investing in France Conference in Nice and Tour to Provence this coming October 18 to 26 — details to come. To be on a special mailing list so that you can take advantage of early bird special rates, contact me.