So, I’ve been wondering all weekend, what if I, what if we all have to self-isolate in response to the spread of COVID-19? The latest predictions, as confirmed cases and deaths here in the U.S. continue to climb, is that all kinds of restrictions are more than likely.
Thousands of Americans are already facing a range of constraints, from working from home for Microsoft in Seattle to cancelled classes at Columbia, Hofstra, and Yeshiva Universities in New York City—and everything, everywhere, in-between. Here in Massachusetts, a cluster of people who attended a business conference at a Boston hotel have come down with the virus, one Boston area school closed on Monday because of an infected parent, the St. Patrick’s Day parade has been cancelled, and the Governor is being peppered with questions about whether the Boston Marathon will be, too.
It just feels inevitable. The virus is already everywhere, and our lives are going to be disrupted for a while. So, what would it be like to have to stay at home (hopefully, only as a precaution, not because of having the virus, which is a whole other issue) for a couple of weeks?
Obviously, it pays now to stock up on essentials. I have all my prescriptions refilled, enough for more than a month. I have three boxes of latex gloves; plenty of canned goods, soap, and toilet paper; and enough hand sanitizer, for now. I even have a few surgical masks that I bought years ago for airplane travel, that I’ve never needed. Not as good as the N95 respirator mask, which should be saved for health professionals and people who are really at risk, but better than nothing.
Although I have some lung scarring from scleroderma, my rheumatologist tells me that it’s not significant enough to predispose me to pneumonia or make any recovery from infection more difficult. Which is a big relief. I’m certainly not going to try to test his theory, but it gives me more confidence about my risk level. Well worth asking.
So, back to my original question: what to do if I have to stay home for a couple of weeks? Fortunately, my work is already based here, so for me, unlike for many, that part is easy. Not true for Al, so we would have to absorb some income loss. I’m grateful that we could handle it, if necessary.
But two weeks is a lot of time to be stuck at home as a social precaution. One blog I read this morning actually had the best suggestion I’ve heard—learn something new. There’s plenty of free content online for perfecting a hobby you keep setting aside for lack of time, tackling that fabric stash for a sewing project, or learning another language. It’s also a good chunk of time to finally declutter your home (I’m talking to myself and my husband, here), or to read or reread those books that you never get to (and would otherwise give away because you’re decluttering).
With video chat, it’s possible to keep in touch with friends and loved ones and feel like you’re together, even when you’re not. It’s possible to organize support groups, to keep everyone’s spirits up during trying times. It’s possible to send kind and caring messages on social media, to counter all the fear and conspiracy mongering.
I certainly hope we don’t end up like Wuhan, China, or northern Italy, in government-imposed lock-down. But if we do face restrictions in movement to keep everyone safer and avoid a crush of cases that will overwhelm our health care system, then at least it’s worth considering how to make the best of a bad situation.
And, of course, there’s always Netflix.
Image: Ryan McGuire