It’s been several months since the first stories of outbreak of a new type of virus broke out in mainland China in early January. Since then, we’ve watched as the infection spread across the globe to the point that the World Health Organization declared this a global pandemic last week.
Last Thursday the governor of Maryland shut down all the schools in the state for two weeks, and also cancelled a lot of other events, closed down public buildings, etc. It’s a welcomed action, at least in this household, to try and slow down the spread of infection in the hopes of reducing the risk of overwhelming hospitals with patients in need of critical care.
My wife heard a story recommending people keep a diary of these days, both to deal psychologically with the new ‘social distancing’ guidelines, as well as to have some interesting historical records for future historians.
I’m mostly interested in the latter, since I’ve been a remote worker for the last three years, working as a software engineer, and am not overly concerned about isolation issues.
My wife is a public high school teacher and we have two children… a son who is 18 and a high school senior preparing for college and a 12 year old girl in 6th grade who attends a local private school. Although my daughter did contract the flu a few weeks ago, we are all healthy so far with no signs of infection. She was actually tested for flu by our pediatrician and came back as Type A flu infection. Really had only a minor fever for a few days, threw up once the first night. A round of Tamiflu, and perhaps her flu vaccine several months earlier, we believe greatly reduce her symptoms.
In any case, we feel very fortunate. With my wife being a teacher, and my remote software job in an industry not greatly impacted by the increasing shutdowns, quarantines, and isolation, we can withstand extended shutdowns without a lot of direct financial impact.
We’ve been slowly stockpiling food for the last few months, in the form of canned and frozen goods, as news of the virus’ spread made us more and more concerned. We also had made a Costco run the day before the Governor’s announcement so we were pretty well stocked on most goods. This was lucky because the next day we saw pictures of the same Costco with people lined up outside to get in. Luckily we had plenty of toilet paper, because there’s been weird sellouts of toilet paper pretty much everywhere.
Last Friday, the last day of school for a while, I did the grocery shopping after dropping my daughter at school, hoping I could avoid the weekend crowds. I was afraid I would see empty shelves after seeing pics from the local area showing this at various suburbs around DC. I was surprised that everything was pretty well in stock, except for toilet paper and hand sanitizer that have been selling out everywhere. I did not panic buy, although in a few cases I may have bought two of something where I would normally buy only one.
Online purchases through Amazon and other outlets still function very well. There’s been no general disruption of shipping except for some international goods out of China, so that’s helped also.
My greatest concern is hospitals getting overwhelmed and not being able to get treated if we get sick. I bought some fish antibiotics as a backup plan in the event we need to self treat for pneumonia. I expect to never have to resort to that, but my family thinks I am a bit nuts for that one. I also bought a blood-oxygen sensor in the event we have to self diagnose lung performance in the event of infection and serious complications.
We have a couple of masks with swappable 3M P-100 filters. One I had purchased years ago to wear when using a paint sprayer. Another my son had bought last year when visiting some local ruins he feared my have asbestos contamination. He was able to buy some filters that fit from local hardware store, I struck out later and bought some online which have yet to be delivered. These should provide a decent level of protection although, in truth, we have not yet used them much. America is still in a place culturally where wearing a mask in public gets weird looks… people think you are being hysterical. I expect that will change in the coming weeks and months.