In the Face of a Growing Pandemic
Somehow, this week went from “growing concern” to “everything hit the fan” in the past 48 hours.
We have been following the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) since the outbreak in Wuhan, China. I remember the spread of bird flu (H7N9) and swine flu (H1N1) years ago. H1N1 in particular was spreading in 2009 when my son was an infant. I remember being nervous, though I do not really remember taking many precautions. It likely never reached the community where I lived at the time, so it was less threatening.
It became clear that coronavirus was spreading rapidly and I became more concerned. The death rate is unclear, but seasonal flu has a death rate of 0.1% and COVID-19 is in the realm of 1% — 3%. But upon doing more reading, it seemed like my family would be more than likely “fine” if the virus were to hit our house. My husband and I are in our thirties, no underlying health issues, and the virus seems to have little impact on children. I breathed a bit easier.
Then coronavirus hit the Seattle area hard. My brother lives there, and his employer (Microsoft) ordered all employees to work from home for three weeks. As an employee who has been working remotely for over 13 years, I made jokes with my co-workers about how these large tech firms (including Amazon and Facebook) would finally “catch up” to the modern working world and learn that interactions did not have to be face-to-face to be productive.
On Tuesday, I sent out an email to some co-workers regarding March Madness, as we have done a bracket challenge for several years. One replied back on Wednesday with a link to an article that showed some of the divisions were cancelling their tournaments. Along with other big announcements, Chicago decided to cancel their annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and dyeing the river green, a longstanding tradition. I heard the reports that people had begun to stock up on supplies (with a somewhat unexplained amount of toilet paper being a main staple). Travel restrictions to Europe were put in place. The entire country of Italy went into lockdown.
The more I read, the more it seemed that we would be faced with a period of containment at some point: either self-containment, because someone…