04/21/2022 of COVID-19 Life

I haven’t written about local COVID conditions since last October. Considering how compulsively I felt the need to describe life constricting around me when The Plague first came around, I should describe life releasing one again with as much compulsion.

Rather than label my error as ‘pessimism,’ I’ll optimistically posit that where things are heading now is what I am accustomed to; what is normal. Where things headed in spring of 2020 looked like the plot line for a dystopian novel.

Speaking of lines, things are flattening out once again…

Thanks, coronavirus.utah.gov. An important note is that this is one graph, no matter the variant tested for.

In Utah, the public atmosphere is mixed. Everyone behaves as if no pandemic existed, exists, or will exist again. …mostly. Public stores have lingering signs on the doors about masking or staying home if sick. I see a patron here or there, sporting the determined half-covered-face look.

We were not asked to mask at three sons’ pediatrician appointments; we were at a different pediatrician appointment for a different son.

I’ve visited a new dentist as a normal, everyday person; an old endodontist as a masked, must-be-healthy, sign-all-these-haven’t-had-a-cold-or-been-vacationing threat.

I faced a similar interrogation in taking Boy #6 to an appointment to look at his Sloth-like head shape:

©2022 Chel Owens

You know, Sloth-like in the back. His front is very smiley and social. As a side note: those baby helmet thingies are really, really expensive. They’re the orthodontics of infants with a similar price tag and aversion to insurance coverage.

On the plus side, the few times I hear of a person contracting Coronavirus I also hear words like “mild case,” “not bad,” and “feel fine now.” Encouragement to be boosted is seen on a billboard here, and a notice at the doctor’s office there -but I don’t feel hammered on the head about it. I am not in the workforce, however, so the environment might be different in that pool.

Inflation is finally accepted as happening. I guess the emperor couldn’t keep people looking at promotional ads for nudity any longer. Whatever; the prices are what they are. Maybe we can go back to an agrarian lifestyle …once the housing market settles down.

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©2022 Chel Owens

10/18/2021 of COVID-19 Life

These current COVID times are odd. We live as if the disease does not exist, with constant reminders that it does.

During the worldwide shutdown, you see, our family shuttered into itself; not eating out, not going out, not accepting human interaction or even packages. Our norm is to eat homemade most of the the time but I felt too scared of the risk to try any food prepared in a restaurant.

Contrast to now: we get takeout at least once a week, go out for shopping or school, and visit family and friends and receive them. I no longer make the kids wait a whole day before opening boxes we’ve received. Our new norm is whatever we need based on energy level and access to the kitchen from unpacking/organizing.

I see friends and relatives going on vacations, attending school dances, and watching sports from a crowded stadium.

A football game at the University of Utah stadium.

I feel like everyone thinks and acts like we’re all normal. Then… every time I have an OB/GYN appointment, I must mask, sanitize, and declare my cleanliness from COVID at check-in. Many businesses require their employees to wear a mask; many politely demand or request the same from clientele. My Twofacebook feed hosts shaming and statistics messages against unvaccinated folks OR staunch personal freedom and risk messages in favor of never complying with vaccine regulations.

Unfortunately, I also see occasional posts about this person who has passed away or that person who is struggling in the hospital and could use prayers. Fortunately, I have yet to experience a close family member’s being sick with COVID.

I have had one coworker test positive. She was vaccinated. She described her experience as, “having a bad cold that went on and on;” she’d also lost her sense of taste and smell.

Still, Utah’s case numbers look good:

The biggest side effect of Sir ‘Rona is in this U.S. nation’s response and subsequent inflation and shortages.

Necessities like lumber and cement are quite expensive and often rationed out to contractors. McDonald’s was out of root beer for our Happy Meals last week. KFC said they were out of breasts. Shoppers keep exhausting our local Costco stores of toilet paper (again!!) and bottled water. When I applied to our mobile windshield repairman for a replacement, he said he couldn’t get a windshield for our minivan. When I applied to the body shop for a small repair on our pickup truck, they said we could come in mid-December.

Everywhere has Now Hiring signs for entry-level positions. I’ve read articles about supply ships gathered at ports without workers to unload or with strict regulations for the crews. No one seems to want these low-paying jobs, including positions like bus driver or trucker. Point fingers where you may, but current government ‘support’ seems to be contributing; in the words of Percy Blakeney of The Scarlet Pimpernel, “Sink me; if everyone isn’t so equal in your new society that no one wants to do the driving anymore.”

I’m grateful we have more on our side to combat this respiratory infection. I wonder when we’ll consider it finally absolved. After all, they’ve only just approved a childhood vaccine for malaria….

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©2021 Chel Owens

04/12/2021 of COVID-19 Life

I didn’t think I’d have much to report on Coronavirus so soon. Utah surprised me, however, in announcing a removal of the statewide mask mandate two days ago. Governor Cox apprised us of this plan back on April 1 ….but, not even considering the date of said announcement, I expected he and the other lawmakers would change their minds.

Yet, here we are, mask-less. What do I think? I haven’t tried my freedom. Personally, and contrary to the friends I have left after writing about political issues on Twofacebook, I’m in favor of covering up. I think many fields that benefit from potentially-sick peoples blocking their breathing, sneezing, coughing, spreading still need that requirement in place -namely, the food services industry.

True -not everyone gets to have a naked face. Our international airport retains the mandate. So do many performing arts venues and public gathering places like the zoo. The Salt Lake Tribune posted a more comprehensive list on April 8.

Most importantly, the public school system must remain half-obscured till June 15. How do I know this? I work in the public school system as a ‘nutrition assistant.’ Because of that and having children who attend in the public school system, I have been receiving a small number of e-mails on the subject. Last night’s was the most interesting: a clearly-hastily-texted message from our school’s director advising teachers and staff what to do in the case of non-compliance. He warned about a concerted effort to send children to school without masks today, an effort I was aware of because of Twofacebook. He says we are not allowed to tie the offenders up and force face coverings; instead, we must remind them of the law to which we are bound, then send them home if they continue to refuse a mask.

Laws are interesting things. I’ve refrained from writing about my job on this blog besides announcing I had it. I’m a strong believer in maintaining a business’ privacy standards. Even if some event occurs worth writing about, I keep to generals and not specifics. In light of that, I will say that “the law to which we are bound” comes up quite often in working in a school cafeteria. I MUST serve so much of this and so much of that. The children MUST take a milk with their lunch. We MUST throw out any extra food, including when it is pans and pans because too many children were out on quarantine…

Such facts shocked me at first but I’ve learned this is the standard for all food services. I bring it up because it shocked me, and because those and other rules seem to shock parents who call in to ask why their Little Darling only received the amount of food s/he did (true story).

But, I digress. We were talking about Coronavirus. Utah’s numbers look good. The number of people getting vaccinated is astounding -the last update on that was that everyone may arrange her/his shot using the online scheduling system.

…Sorry. I got distracted by the Vaccine Distribution Counter. It refreshes whenever the page does.

Like I said, our numbers look really good. At the moment.

The numbers most certainly look better than those hazy days between November and January.

I hope things continue to look up. I hope people are responsible, as our gov’nuh wishes. For, as he clarified, “[M]ask mandates does not mean no masks. I think that’s a mistake we make. So we still encourage people even when the mask mandate goes away to be safe and wear masks, get vaccinated and then we can’t wait for all of us to get rid of our masks soon” (Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune).

You and me, both, brother.

How are things ’round your parts?

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©2021 Chel Owens

03/11/2021 of COVID-19 Life: One Year Anniversary

On March 13, 2020, our family officially went into lockdown. We’d read the news of Coronavirus’ spread, heard about the first case in Utah, purchased some toilet paper and water, and been told that everyone in the world would be sitting tight for two weeks. I remember those two weeks-three weeks-four weeks; my …finger-wagging-type friends kept internet-shaming anyone they saw outside. They kept admonishing that, if everyone would simply pull together for those few weeks, we’d be back to normal within the month.

Ha.

Months dragged by. Here, in my introverted world, I felt lost. Sure, I had texting. I had movies. I had my family. Plus, I had writing with my blogging community. The problem was that I had no desire to write. Did anyone else feel that way?

I felt reality knocking, peering, prying into my safe existence. A horrible plague might sneak through our door in the guise of a well-meaning relative or an Amazon package or a container of baby cereal. I had nightmares of said plague in every breath my three-month-old baby took. I pictured each of my children in a hospital bed, gasping for life inside a solid building I wouldn’t even be able to enter.

At first, I allayed my panic by handling what I could. I reached out to others via text or e-mail. We learned about Zoom. And, I loved reading my friends’ blog posts about conditions where they lived. It was morbidly fascinating to be experiencing the exact same, horrid thing everywhere. I shared what was happening in Utah as well.

I also took pictures. I still do. Someday, I’ll compile them; maybe I’ll print a book for my children. I’ve captured signs warning about masks and distancing. I’ve taken phone photos of plastic dividers; ‘samples’ at Costco; bulk goods now pre-bagged; and the absence of cleaning products, water, and toilet paper. What I wish I could photograph, above all, are all the people in masks. Masks at the store; in cars; at school. It’s alien.

Which leads me to current news. The Utah Department of Health says it has dosed 936,681 people with the COVID-19 vaccine. Gov’nuh Cox is pushing to extend our statewide mask mandate beyond the projected April 10 date, based mainly on his insistence that we get more people vaccinated. At the middle school where I work, we were told that masks would be required in schools till July 4. We may, however, be considering moving back to traditional delivery of school lunch -i.e., serving on plates and trays instead of handing out Styrofoam clamshells.

The numbers are dropping.

The verbal rain check I gave my oldest for his birthday party last year just might happen this time around. Maybe we’ll go on a vacation somewhere without cows. And maybe, just maybe, we can walk into a grocery store without a face covering -all of us- fully smile at a friend we see, and even hug them.

©2021 Chel Owens

12/31/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

I’ve not written about Coronavirus updates in awhile, I’ve thought for a few weeks. As I sat to type one up just now, I realized this is the last day of the dreaded year 2020. How appropriate.

Like many, many others, I reflect back on this year. Truth be told, today is not the only day I have reflected. Even before Coronavirus, I marveled at where I had come in only a year’s time; for, if you are a follower of my blog, you know that I learned I was pregnant in April of 2019 whilst attending ‘school’ whilst maintaining a few blogs whilst helping our family side business to run.

COVID-19 changed many things. At this point, however, it’s only a factor for us in how it’s affected our children’s school experience and our family’s vacationing and visiting abilities. My pregnancy resulted in a sweet, healthy boy who is now a year old. I barely keep up on any blogging. The side business is BOOMING to the point that we were 1700 orders behind on Etsy at one point…

I guess there’s something to be said for marrying a computer programmer and producing a family of introverts. We’re healthy homebodies.

Local news-wise, Utah’s Coronavirus daily infection numbers are similar to other states. I think. They reached an all-time high of 4611 on November 19 but yesterday’s report (December 30) was a mere 2602.

I don’t know what experience others are having but the COVID Climate here is somewhat casual. We still mask in public. I have the children change their clothes and wash their hands after school. There are no samples at Costco, no free candy baskets at the bank, no free popcorn or soda at the oil change store, no handshakes at business deals, and no Charmin toilet paper or Clorox wipes or pure almond extract at the store.

You know times are tough when a person can’t even get almond extract.

©2020 Chel Owens

I do not like these measures, especially when I drop my children off at school and watch tiny Kindergarteners heading in past their tiny playground with a giant mask obscuring their tiny face. I feel Coronavirus to be a skulking shadow. It’s like the cancer eating away at a close relative of ours; something we know is there, something we need to be constantly aware of, something to FEAR to the point that you do not help that old lady load her groceries or that man who dropped his wallet or that child who needs a hand to hold to search for his mommy in the grocery store…

My fearful Twofacebook friends post worrisome statistics about spread and new strains, but also happy news about the new vaccine -some have even gotten it.
My over-it Twofacebook friends post family pictures and occasional articles on the virus’ restrictions affecting our mental health, but also warning news about the new vaccine -they will not get it if they can help it.

Photo by Artem Podrez on Pexels.com

Still political. Still divided.

But, it’s the holiday season! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I didn’t make my traditional plate of cookies for my neighbors this year. I opted for a neat luminary tin full of Polish chocolates I found at a European Market store in Salt Lake City. To my surprise, several neighbors and friends did gift us homemade items. We received bread, chocolates, brittles, and peppermint bark.

The best gift of all? A container of Clorox wipes. Don’t tell; I don’t want to get raided.

From Clorox.com‘s site. Good luck finding this golden ticket.

There is FEAR and a good reason to FEAR, if you are being reasonable about it. At the start, I shared the feelings of paranoia that many still feel. I told my children not to answer the door or touch the incoming packages and mail. I left them home with Kevin when I went shopping –if I went shopping.

Now, I am simply careful. I do not lick shopping carts or gas pumps. I wear my mask in public areas. I also shared Christmas with my parents, sister, and her family. We ate together and visited and *gasp* hugged. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

So, be careful. But, be reasonable. If you’re healthy and haven’t had someone lick you lately, you’re probably fine to hug a grandchild. And if that gives you the heebie-geebies, wash your clothes afterwards. And your hands. But, as Clorox advises on their website, don’t start drinking bleach…

Also from Clorox.com‘s site. It’s a warning that pops up, to cover their legal assets.

What’s daily life like for you? Are you fine sticking around? Heading out now and then? Hugging anyone?

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©2020 Chel Owens