“Dispatch from a Pandemic: Philadelphia” by Anndee Hochman

numbered cups clyde robertson
Numbered Cups, Clyde Robertson

Latin word for crown: corona

Size of the coronavirus, in nanometers: 120

Diameter of a human hair, in nanometers: 75,000

corona samNumber of jewels in the three-pound Imperial State Crown worn by Queen Elizabeth at her 1953 coronation: four rubies, eleven emeralds, seventeen sapphires, 277 pearls and more than 3,000 smaller diamonds, along with the 317-carat Cullinan Diamond

Number of times the word “crown” is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence: one (“We, therefore…solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are…Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown.”)

Date on which British officials confirmed that Prince Charles, heir to the throne, had tested positive for coronavirus and was under self-quarantine at a royal estate in Scotland: March 25

Origin of the word quarantine: During the Black Death, Italian officials isolated and detained all sea travelers for thirty days to monitor them for illness, a period later lengthened to 40 days—quarante giorni.

 Number of days (Exodus 34) that Moses spent fasting on Mt. Zion: forty

 Number of days (Mark 1) that Jesus spent in the wilderness: forty

Date on which dozens of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China were confirmed as coronavirus: January 7, 2020

Date on which China placed Wuhan under quarantine, with all flights and trains, subways and ferries suspended: January 23

Date the number of cases worldwide hit 100,000: March 6

Date that number topped 1,000,000: April 3

Number of US deaths due to coronavirus, as of May 15: 86,571

Number of US deaths due to flu in 2017-18: 61,000

Number of US deaths in the Civil War: 620,000

Number of deaths in Europe during the fourteenth-century Black Plague: 50 million

Number of miles from Wuhan to Philadelphia: 7,534

Number of hourly workers laid off from Zahav, Dizengoff, Federal Donuts and other Philadelphia restaurants owned by the CookNSolo group: 400

Wage of a back-of-the-house worker at Dizengoff: $12/hour

Cost of the “taste of Zahav” menu—four courses, with wine pairings, for one person: $84

Amount of a CookNSolo relief fund, raised through gift card sales and the owners’ personal contributions, to distribute to needy workers: $150,000

Number of people employed in US restaurants: 15.6 million

Date on which Trump declared, after a meeting with Republican senators on coronavirus, “And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”: March 10

Date on which the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a pandemic: March 11

Definition of a pandemic: worldwide spread of a new disease for which most people do not have immunity

CDC-recommended distance between people to avoid coronavirus transmission: six feet

Width of a queen-size mattress: five feet

Length of a standard medium love seat: four feet, ten inches

Percentage of online daters, in a March survey, who said they’d prefer to have a first date via video call: eighty-four percent

Date on which the US logged COVID-19 cases in all fifty states: March 17

Date on which China, for the first time, reported no new domestic cases of the disease: March 19

Date the Olympic flame arrived in Japan from Greece: March 20

Date on which the International Olympic Committee postponed the summer games, scheduled to take place in Tokyo, until 2021: March 24

Also postponed: New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, the French Open tennis tournament, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Vietnam Grand Prix, Queen Elizabeth’s trips to Cheshire and Camden

Number of respiratory droplets that can be produced by a single human cough: 3,000

Number of hours the virus can survive in droplets after being coughed into the air: three

Number of hours it can survive on plastic or stainless steel: seventy-two

Percentage of alcohol needed in hand sanitizer in order to kill coronavirus: sixty percent

Price of three 8-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer, purchased at a New York City pharmacy on March 5: $150

Cost of a single roll of toilet paper in Maine, in March, according to a price gouging report: $10

Number of people who have used the website HowMuchToiletPaper.com to gauge their toilet paper needs during the pandemic: twelve million

Length of time recommended by the CDC for thorough hand-scrubbing with soap and water: twenty seconds

Song that takes about twenty seconds: the alphabet, including the refrain, “Now I know my ABCs; next time won’t you sing with me?”

Number of US children now out of school due to coronavirus: at least 55.1 million

Percentage of US students—when they were in school—who studied Latin: two percent

Corona: the Latin word for crown

–May 15, 2020



Anndee Hochman is a Philadelphia writer currently sheltering-in-place with her partner of nearly thirty years, their nineteen-year-old daughter, two housemates and two cats whose luxuriant routine seems undisturbed by COVID-19. She is the author of Anatomies: A Novella and Stories and a collection of essays, Everyday Acts & Small Subversions: Women Reinventing Family, Community and Home. Anndee’s column, “The Parent Trip,” appears weekly in the Philadelphia Inquirer; she has also written for Broad Street Review, The Jewish Exponent, Poets & Writers Magazine and many other publications. Anndee teaches poetry and memoir to children, teens and adults in schools, senior centers and detention facilities, and at writing conferences and workshops.