Gina Penn, unabridged.

Archive for March, 2020

Shelter in Place

If that saying doesn’t make sense to you, you’ve never experienced a pandemic before.

2020 has started. Boy, has it ever. The world is currently in the midst of a pandemic called COVID-19, oft referred to as the coronavirus, the novel coronavirus, amongst other things. It has become the number one meme on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, basically any social media outlet. It has swept the planet from a single case in Wuhan, China, to the entire world in the span of about five months and it is here in the US wreaking havoc on our nation’s elderly (and even not elderly) people. It has killed thousands of people and infected many more. It is also scaring the living shit out of a lot of people and making life difficult and downright unrecognizable for the rest of us.

The CDC and our government have recommended a mass closure which means all businesses such as restaurants and basically any place where more than a few humans can gather, are now closed until this thing is over. No restaurants, bars, gyms, hair dressers, etc… nothing like that can be open right now. People with the capability are being asked to work from home, which I am currently doing. I worked from home all last week and it was pretty great. The people in charge are also asking us to stay home and try to avoid going out, whenever possible, to avoid getting sick. So, people are holing up in their homes, watching t.v., and turning to social media for both entertainment and socializing while we wait this thing out.

It’s been interesting to observe social media during this thing. Some people are handling the shelter in place rather well. They’re baking cookies and making the best of it during this difficult time. Others, not so well. They’re stuck inside with others and since they’re not used to spending so much time with other people, namely their families, they’re starting to unravel a little bit.

Myself, I am in the former category. As an introvert, I relish in my alone time. I spend most of my time alone anyway, so this has been business as usual to me. I’ve gone out only a few times but otherwise, I’ve been home, minding my own business and riding out this wave of illness. It’s almost as if my depression and self-isolation have been training me for this time when I would be forced to spend time in solitary. This truly has not been out of the ordinary for me at all, with the exception of one thing.

Going out in public is now an ordeal. I once could slip in and out of a place relatively quickly, easily, and quietly but now you have to prepare beforehand. Restaurants are now closed, which means I can’t actually go in and sit down, I have to get it to go. That’s what I typically do anyway but on the few occasions when my friends and I would meet, we can no longer do this. Yoga is gone for now too, which also sucks. Yoga really helps with my back pain and I’m now going to have to discipline myself to do it at home. Going to the grocery store is probably the worst. If I want to pick up a few things, maybe I’m craving some fruit or something, going to the store is an entire situation all on its own.

First off, when the people first heard that they would likely be asked to stay home and ride this thing out for a few weeks, the people did what they do best in these situations: they panic. I have only gone to the grocery store a few times and I’ll remember those times for the rest of my life. People are walking around with face masks and handling items with gloves. Shelves are near empty as people ravage through the supplies, buying way more than they need. Toilet paper is completely gone; to find any of the white stuff is like finding a four-leaf clover. Maybe even rarer. Hand sanitizer is another one that is extremely hard to find, even more difficult than toilet paper. You can’t find it anywhere, in any physical location or online. Scrolling through Amazon after searching for hand sanitizer, expect to see the words “not available” on pretty much every item. There was a man who recently had an article written about him because he and his friend went out and bought all the hand sanitizer they could find right before it was fashionable to go out and buy it, and then they tried to sell it at an inflated price on Amazon, to which Amazon promptly shut them down. And rightly so. Those men were gouging people and deserved to be shut down. I’m sure those weasels simply sold their items on Craigslist or something but it was still disheartening to see humans going out and trying to take advantage of a sickness that is killing so many when there are so few preventions going around. Makes me ashamed to be a human. Crime is beginning to spike, as people who are currently out of work are running out of money. The stock market continues to fall, is now lower than it’s been in a very long time. The government is talking about sending money directly to taxpayers, to assist with these difficult times as we adapt to this new, temporary normal. The hardest hit country as far as deaths so far is Italy but the US isn’t far behind and will likely catch up. People are not taking the shelter in place seriously and so the virus continues to spread. Unfortunately this government shut down began right around spring break and the beaches were still open and full of young kids splashing and playing without a care in the world. We should expect the next few weeks to be much of the same and many predict we won’t see any change until May, maybe even later. Kids are not in school and likely may not return until the end of the year, possibly not even then. The list of strangeness goes on and on.

I wish more people would stay home so we can slow the progression (or flatten the curve, as we keep hearing from medical professionals) of this thing. Mostly I just want to go to the store again without wondering if I’ll find what I need or worrying about what’s happening at my place when I’m not there. People are hoarding and behaving like selfish assholes. This isn’t surprising but I just wish it would stop.

Rest easy and stay healthy, to the few who are reading. I hope you are well-stocked with toilet paper, wherever you are.