2020 will be the year of not going outside. Not that I’m much for going outside in the first place. When the advice came out to encourage social distancing, both Sarah and I looked at each other and said “Stay at home and don’t talk to people? We’ve been training for this my whole life! We got this!”
Our first encounter with Covid-19 seems like forever ago now. Xavier and I ducked out for a routine trip to Costco one Sunday morning. Feb 29th to be precise. When we pulled into the parking lot it was PACKED. Not weekend-shopper packed, but pre-thanksgiving dinner or the week-before-Christmas packed. We would have left but as fortune would have it, someone pulled out right as we pulled in and we landed a choice spot. Score!
As we walked up and down the aisles searching for what was on our shopping list we couldn’t help but notice that nearly all the shoppers there were only buying Clorox Wipes, Toilet Paper and bottled water. We definitely had the feeling that some global memo had been sent out to the residents of Kirkland that we’d somehow missed. People were clearly “apocalypse shopping” but we didn’t know why.
Side note: “Apocalypse shopping” is a phrase that has entered my vocabulary since moving to the United States. This is when everyone goes to the store to prepare for short-term societal collapse. Often on account of major weather events, like a blizzard.
We picked up what we needed, queued up, and asked the teller at the exit what was going on. She leaned forwards and whispered:
“In about 3 minutes, there will be a major news conference that will announce the first Coronavirus related death on US soil,” she may have said “that’s not travel related” but I don’t recall for sure. Then she gestured to the massive queues and added “Obviously it’s not a well kept secret.”
X and I listened to the press release in the car.
Public Health – Seattle & King County and the Washington State Department of Health are announcing new cases of COVID-19, including one death. The individual who died was a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions who had no history of travel or contact with a known COVID-19 case. Public Health is also reporting two cases of COVID-19 virus connected to a long-term care facility in King County.
The man had been treated at Evergreen Hospital, which is 13-15 minutes from where we live, and very much a part of our extended neighborhood. All three of us see medical professionals at Evergreen, and frequent the nearby shops. We drive through that area several times a week as we go about our “normal” life.
This is how we learned we were Ground Zero for the US-edition of the Covid crisis.
At that point, out of an abundance of caution, we decided to play it safe and stay at home for a few days. By Wednesday, we’d been notified that X’s school would close for a few days. By Thursday, I’d been told that I could work from home for a few weeks. By the following Monday, school was moved to online-only learning and we’d gotten guidance to just stay at home to work unless we had good reason to do otherwise. Things have only gotten more restricted since then.
We spent two weeks in full lockdown mode, and then I made a quick day trip up to see Mom on March 15th to celebrate her birthday with a HUGE Costco shopping trip so she wouldn’t have to leave the house for essentials for a bit. Since then, I’ve been here.
That’s 49 days since we started out lockdown, and 34 days since I’ve left home.
That’s a very long time.