Pandemic journal: Pandemic declared

Wednesday, March 11, 10:36 AM

I’m sleepy and a little agitated and very distractible. Yesterday I read some accounts of doctors and nurses in Italy who are dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak there (the WHO has just declared it a pandemic) and they are describing healthcare systems collapsing because of the rate of infection, people (mostly elderly) dying because there isn’t enough equipment to deal with respiratory failure on this scale, exhausted healthcare workers getting infected themselves or working nonstop and self-quarantining from their families so as not to spread the disease. It’s chilling, especially because Erik was saying he’s read that the outbreaks follow much the same curve in various countries, and if that’s going to happen in the US then we may be looking at a peak in the next few weeks or so. 

So what do we do?! That’s got me totally on edge (and so many other people too) and yet we’re still going about our lives much as we usually do, except Erik is working from home entirely. We all don’t go out so much anyway, certainly not compared to most people, but there are still gatherings happening every day (preschool) and many social events in the works for the next month. I made a note to look at our calendar and decide what to do about those — not that it even feels possible to decide, honestly, but it feels that at the very least I should LOOK at the schedule and consider. But what in the meantime? I hugged my friend twice at drop-off this morning, and the kids may be drilled on hand washing but they’re still kids who touch everything, eat everything, pick their noses — they’re walking disease vectors and we are all having intimate contact with them 24-7. We can keep Owl home but not everyone has that option (because of work) or has kids who will stay home so readily and peacefully, so I imagine many parents won’t be quarantining their families unless/until people are dying around us from the virus, and that seems too late to take such an action (from a community health perspective). Also the time I’m taking to write about all this which means I won’t even be able to consider my calendar until after I’ve picked up Owl from school. And I need to call J, as well (and am curious to hear how the anxiety over the virus is affecting her [a nurse]). 

Later that day:

-Talked to a friend I was going to travel to NYC with, next month

-Cancelled trip: cancelled flights, cancelled AirBnB, emailed AirBnB host to ask for a full refund (received, bless her)

-Emailed all event hosts in my Meetup group to check in about upcoming gatherings

-Texted friend we’re scheduled to have dinner with, this weekend

The next day (March 12):

-Sent email to the 1,800+ members of my Meetup group letting them know that some events are canceled and some are staying on the calendar for now

-Talked to a preschool family that is returning to their home country (a decision made urgently because of border closings), agree to cover one of their jobs at the school

-Talked to our babysitter about whether to cancel future jobs 

-Decided to skip this weekend’s parent/child dance class, ask friends to switch our dinner to a video chat

Two days later (March 13):

-Cancelled friend get-together planned for end of month

-Emailed to urge the preschool board to close the school  

-Left check-in voicemail for a friend who lives at a senior residence