I haven’t blogged in years. In fact, when our credit card was compromised and WordPress kindly requested my updated information, I deleted the email. I didn’t have time to blog for my personal site because I was working. And then, I became a podcaster. But since the new coronavirus, COVID-19, surfaced in my town on February 29, I’ve had this itch to write.
I live in Kirkland, the epicenter of COVID-19 in the United States. Life Care, the nursing home at the center of the outbreak, is less than three miles from my front door. We’re the test case for the rest of the country. And it’s kind of incredible how much has changed in the last couple of weeks.
At first, people in the Seattle area were concerned, but still going about their business as usual. Maybe washing their hands more. We asked ourselves things like: Was it OK for Bini to go to a sleepover? Was it OK for me to take the kids to visit my parents in the Bay Area? Should we have our PTSA board meeting in person, or virtually?
News spread that the virus had likely been in the Seattle area six weeks longer than originally thought. That’s when the potential magnitude began to sink in, but the White House was still blowing it off. We weren’t getting any guidance from local health officials either, except to wash our hands and stay home if we were sick.
We began to ask ourselves different questions: Should Steve work from home? Should we cancel our spring break plans? Would we be able to travel this summer? We watched what was happening in Northern Italy and wondered if it was a harbinger for what was to come. My social media feed was split between those who thought this was really freaking serious, and those who thought it was “just a flu.” It was hard to know if you were overreacting, or under-reacting. It felt like we were on our own.
Stores started getting cleaned out of things like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and Clorox wipes. Then, it was rubbing alcohol, and, oddly, razor blades. Parents in our school district were screaming for officials to close the schools. I was one of the people who thought they needed to chill out and stop imposing their panic on others. It’s possible I was wrong.
On March 12, the district announced that it would close schools through March 27. When I read that, I finally panicked. Yes, I was worried about the virus, but also, about what the hell I was going to do with my kids all day. My kids are hard right now — Evan is nearly 8, and needs constant attention (adoption thing), and Bini is 11, and alternates between truculence and indifference (we think it’s an adolescent thing?). I pitched an idea of a homeschooling co-op to a group of second-grade moms, and everyone was on board. I was confident that our schools would be doing some sort of remote learning.
Then, things started moving very quickly. On March 13, Governor Jay Inslee ordered all schools closed until April 24, and a ban on gatherings larger than 250 people. That’s when shit got really real. We weren’t going to be able to do any kind of co-op. We were going to have to stay home, and do this social-distancing thing for real. And because of equity issues, it’s not clear that we will be doing e-learning as originally hoped. Steve and I will be homeschooling our kids, and cobbling together a curriculum. Once, when I pondered the fleeting thought of homeschooling, Steve said to me, very gravely: “That is not a good choice for our family.” That’s because I am not a patient person. So I’m going to suck at this, and my kids are going to hate me.
Today, March 16, the governor ordered a two-week closure for all bars and restaurants, except for takeout. Gyms, salons, and spas are shuttered too. Steve and Evan desperately need haircuts, and I can’t really imagine life without the gym, but this is reality now. Everything is shut. My inbox is clogged with emails from places I’ve patronized announcing their closures, from retail stores to Evan’s dojo. Arts organizations are openly begging for donations to stay afloat.
In other states, like California, the changes have been swift — a major punch to the gut instead of a flurry of quick, sharp jabs. In other states, people still think the COVID-19 is a hoax cooked up by the Democrats, or a hysteria created by those libtards in Seattle. So either we’re the test case, and the drastic steps we’re taking can slow the spread, or you’ve just read what your state will be facing. Soon.