A COVID-19 log 1/n

I can’t help but record a few thoughts so that I have something to look back on when reflecting on this period as a future me. I may try to do this weekly for as long as there’s something to say. Be safe, y’all!

“We’ve never dealt with anything like this before. Everyone’s reaction, no matter how unlike mine, is normal.”

This is what I keep telling myself while navigating the news and reactions around COVID-19. It’s taking us all some time to collectively get on the same page. It seems like it’s happening, though there will be plenty of people that take longer than others and plenty of people who decide not to change.

A few days ago there was somehow still a widespread attitude—which is hopefully easing off—that if you aren’t in an at-risk category you can feel free to go about as if nothing has changed. Unfortunately, we know that many coronavirus infections are spread by people who are not showing symptoms, so that line of thinking causes a significant problem to the greater community.

Our county does not have a confirmed case of COVID-19 yet, though testing has been extremely minimal—the county had something like 14 total available test kits last week. Washington has 769 confirmed cases as I write this and will probably cross 1000 within the next 48 hours and 2000 by the end of the week. It’s hard to imagine it has not made its way to this side of the state with so many people traveling back and forth to Seattle weekly via car and plane. And many students will likely come back to Pullman after spring break in a week to participate in “distance learning” from their dorm rooms and apartments. WSU has continued to maintain that the university will be operational. They have so far only suggested that at-risk employees work from home.

Our local chamber of commerce has been encouraging people to continue to support local businesses and there’s a good chance many people are not yet worried. The mood does seem to have changed a bit in the last few days. My guess is that Pullman, as a small rural town, will do relatively okay overall, though WSU has a history of poorly managing community spread.

It was announced this evening that Governor Inslee will be signing an order tomorrow morning to shut down restaurants and bars across the state. This comes only a couple days after the announcement of a state-wide school closure through the end of April.

Things like this should cause some pause and start to change WSU and Pullman’s positions. 🤞🏻

The statement “the novel coronavirus, SARS-COV-2, causes COVID-19 in humans” took a few weeks before I paid enough attention to actually parse into its pieces so that I understood. Now it feels like something I won’t ever forget.

I don’t remember ever hearing the terms “social distancing“, “community spread”, or “flattening the curve” before, but here we are: learning.

At the moment, Michelle and I are coming to terms with and embracing the importance of social distancing. I’ve also been starting to use the words “physical distancing” (thanks Eric) as we really will need to lean on each other in the coming year.

I already work from home almost every moment of the week—beyond the handful of visits to coffee shops, something I am very grateful for. For the last week we’ve reduced the number of reasons to go out and engage with public spaces. No gatherings with people, eating in restaurants, and no visiting multiple stores at a time. On Wednesday I had an excellent book club with 4 others over Zoom. I’m open to trying other types of virtual gatherings over the next few months.

It was February 26th that we decided to finally buy a couple large bags of rice and a few extra canned goods as a way to start stocking up without going overboard. Over the last few weeks we’ve filled in a handful of other staples. We’re thankful to have already had a chest freezer with a good amount of frozen broth, meat, soups, and vegetables. From a caloric and nutritional standpoint, we’re good to stay inside for quite a while if needed.

I’ve also settled on a “this is likely safe” routine for buying some more perishable or last-minute items. I’m okay walking into a store—hopefully at an off time, spending a few minutes picking up items, checking out, coming back home, and washing my hands. It seems smart to avoid trips to multiple places as it increases the number of possible touch points and times I may inadvertently touch my face.

We are still enjoying the outdoors, something we’re lucky to do because of our rural surroundings. It’s perfectly safe to go for hikes and walks and soak in the fresh air and sun. It would be tough living in a large city and trying to establish a good routine for getting out while keeping distance.

However prepared we are, the chances seem good that I’ll be infected by SARS-COV-2 in the next year or so, along with a large portion of Americans and much of the world.

None of this really scares me as an individual, though I definitely don’t look forward to it and definitely hope I’m wrong. Even though I was a heavy smoker for much of my 20s and even though I have had pneumonia, it’s hard to imagine being diagnosed with COVID-19 and not being able to manage it. Of course thinking we’re invincible is one of the things humans are best at, right?

I’ve only scratched the surface on thinking through the long-term global impact and the news we’re going to be dealing with as things get worse. A global event like this is shaping up to be something “we”, our living generations, have never really had to experience.

It would be so nice to know that we have acted in time, that the curve will flatten, and we’ll all feel a little silly a few months from now that we reacted so strongly.️

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