I went out again today, out beyond my four walls. I’ve been trying to limit trips to once a week, in accordance with our county’s laws and common sense.
We passed a Costco on our way. I recalled how, at my last ‘adventure,’ my oldest son and I tried to shop there for milk. Costco has been more fun each time I’ve visited; their newest attraction, then, was limiting how many people could enter the store. We stood in a line that snaked around pallets inside the entry, out the opening, down the sidewalk, and around the other side of the shopping carts’ new home.
I used to enjoy parking where the carts were. I’d pull right up to the sidewalk. The boys would jump out and race or push each other or yell as they raced and pushed each other. We could always smell something wonderful baking. Perhaps that’s why we often returned home with their oversized ‘muffins.’
On the day my son and I tried to get milk, we waited for half an hour without moving. Signs on cones and tape lines helped us measure our distance. The wind blew. “I wonder how effective six feet away is when we’re standing downwind,” I mused. The wait proved too long, wind or no. Like many others, I chose to leave and try a different store.
Today, we did not go shopping. Our destination was The Pit, itself: the doctors’ office. Yet another son needed his checkup and the baby needed his four-month visit. The office is split into a Well-Child side and a Sick-Child side. My happy baby has had cold symptoms -no fever- for over a week. At the behest of the staff and their posted sign, we entered the condemned half. I’d been dreading the visit for that very reason, but it proved a blessing. The office has been encouraging Telehealth visits for sick patients. We were the only occupants. From what we observed upon departure, the Well side was quite busy. Ironic, no?
My phone beeped with a notification during the visit: the Salt Lake County mayor extended her Stay Home, You Idiots order till May 1. Yes, ma’am.
Utah’s state governor has been broadcasting daily updates around 1:30 p.m. The last one I watched included his wearing a mask and encouraging us to do so; the one before, information about a loan to help small businesses.
I also recall some plan involving visitors to our state being prompted to self-report COVID-19 symptoms. In researching it further, I learned that the texting system didn’t quite work the way they wanted:
Since the system’s launch Friday, [Joe Dougherty, public information officer for the Utah Division of Emergency Management] said, “a number of residents in the state received alerts in their homes, in their bathrooms, and in other locations when they were quite far from the borders.”
“Some people clearly got an annoying number of messages,” Dougherty said, some of them 15 times.
The state learned, Dougherty said, “that these messages will sometimes alert much farther than the areas that we intended.” He apologized to people in the St. George area and the Uinta Basin, both in Utah, and Oneida County in Idaho — north of the Utah border — for being sent repeated messages.
-“Utah’s ‘bold experiment’ to text alerts to road travelers to collect coronavirus data ends abruptly, ” The Salt Lake Tribune, April 12, 2020
Most of my exposure to COVID-19 is online. I watch the updates, read what friends share on Twofacebook, and connect with blog friends worldwide. Some states have put plastic caution tape around their gardening and outdoors supplies. Others have curfews and gathering restrictions. From what I can gather, every country is trying to “flatten the curve” through distancing measures.
LA, who lives on the front lines of New York City’s Coronavirus Action, tells quite a different story than mine. After all, the virus doesn’t have such alarming numbers mathematically. It’s when those numbers apply to highly-dense areas like hers that math gets used in real life. Even if you’re in the “1% death rate” camp, that’s 84,000 of 8.4 million people. That’s also not how many get infected, need respiratory aids, and have lasting health problems.
There’s a children’s book I loved as a child, Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock. In it, Anansi the spider discovers a mossy rock with the power to cause unconsciousness when verbally identified as such.
He uses this to trick each animal and acquire his or her food. One animal is never tricked, because she has been watching Anansi the entire time. In fact, Little Bush Deer figures out how to give that tricky spider a taste of his own medicine.
As I’ve been watching Coronavirus since it first broke out in China, I’ve felt like Little Bush Deer. Watching and planning gave me more toilet paper than those who then rushed to install a bidet. It allowed me to anticipate closures and distancing. However, far more animals have dropped than I expected. Far more areas of the forest have been closed off. Conflicting news about the rock and its potency is causing some animals to demand stricter closures while others bare their teeth and say, “Make me.” I never knew the forest could look like this.
I, like many others, feel lost. What plan now, besides a long wait? There seems to be no other.
©2020 Chelsea Owens
Photo credits: Hello I’m Nik 🎞
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