Got my first coronavirus test today. Figured it would be a good idea after spending seventeen hours in a middle school gym on Election Day, which feels like a lifetime ago. I waited in line for nearly three hours, slowly inching past a shuttered diner, a construction site, and a mattress store until I reached the clinic. Some people came prepared with folding chairs and picnic lunches. Others paced and had tantrums. Inside the clinic, a nurse shoved a Q-tip up my nose for four seconds. Then I left. I walked down First Avenue feeling as if I’d participated in an obscure religious ritual, or perhaps an unsatisfying art installation.

There’s news about a possible vaccine for the coronavirus. In the meantime, infections are breaking records each day, and this winter might teach us a hard lesson in exponential math.

In New York, the weather is still impossibly warm and sunny. Shops are removing the plywood boards from their windows after barricading for riots that never came, despite the hysteria that spread across the networks and newspapers. The election was peaceful, and America’s institutions appear to have survived an unprecedented stress test. But a shadow lingers. The president fired the secretary of defense this afternoon, the one who refused to invoke the Insurrection Act and deploy America’s military against its citizens. This bare minimum qualifies as moral fiber these days. Is the president planning something? Will he ever concede?

It’s a confusing time.