From time to time I like to post a fun blog not directly related to (though sometimes informed by) my research. Past examples can be seen here, here, and here. Regular articles will resume after this entry.
“The Epidemic Prevention Conference” (防疫大會) is a humorous COVID-19-related short story that has been circulating in Taiwan. It gets longer and longer as people add new details. I wanted to share it because it mentions many figures from Journey to the West, including Xuanzang and Sun Wukong. I’ve added notes at the bottom to explain the cultural context of particular statements.
The Anti-Epidemic Conference was held in the celestial court. The Jade Emperor was worried when he discovered many seats were vacant, and so he asked the gods:
Jade Emperor: “Why don’t I see the ‘Thousand-Armed’ Guanyin Bodhisattva?”
The gods answered: “She is still washing her hands!”
Jade Emperor asked again: “Why didn’t Brahma, the Four-Faced Buddha, come?”
The gods replied: The government only gave him three masks for the week, so he is short one and can’t come.” 
Jade Emperor asked again: “Why didn’t Bhaisajyaguru, the Medicine Buddha, come?”
The gods answered: “The Medicine Buddha is selling masks.”
Jade Emperor asked again: “What about the Eight Immortals?”
The gods replied: “Because they returned from overseas and had to be quarantined at home.” 
Jade Emperor asked again: “What about Sage Emperor Guan?”
The gods replied: “His face was flush and he had a fever of more than 37.5 °C (99.5° F).  He is isolated at home.”
Jade Emperor asked again: “Why did Tang Sanzang not come?” 
The gods replied: “He has a history of travel and is quarantined at home, so he cannot come.”
Jade Emperor asked again: “What about King Yama?”
The gods answered: “Because too many people have died. He is still taking roll of their names.”
Then the Jade Emperor asked again: “Why did Mazu Lin Moniang not come?”
“The Plague god did not come because he is busy spreading the plague.
The God of Wealth didn’t come because he is busy giving financial relief.”
“Why didn’t the Bodhisattva King Kṣitigarbha come?”
The gods answered: “The death toll is so high that there is no time to come!”
“Why didn’t Sun Wukong come?”
“Because of contact with the pathogen bat demon.  He is in quarantine.”
“Why didn’t the Earth god come yet?”
The gods replied: “He and King Kṣitigarbha are looking for land with good fengshui,  so he has no time to come!
The original Chinese:
眾神回答: 他有旅遊史, 被居家檢疫，不能來…
為何地藏王菩薩也沒來？ 眾神回答 ：死亡人數超飆 無暇前來！
1) At the time this story first started circulating, the Taiwanese government was providing each citizen with three masks a week. This number has since then increased to nine (at least the last time I picked up mine).
2) This references a famous story in which the Eight Immortals cross a sea using their own magic treasures.
3) Guan Yu is typically portrayed with a deep red face.
4) This obviously references Xuanzang’s quest to India.
5) Genomic sequences suggest COVID-19 originated in bats.
6) Edward White notes on Twitter that this “is a reference to seeking gravesites with good Fengshui.”