Thursday, March 12, 2020

Covid-19 Is For Real
Spring is for real too. It’s showing up a bit early this year 
and I do believe that all of Seattle rejoices. 

Thirty-six hours ago, I felt darn confident. Sure, the threat of Covid-19 was circling ever closer to my Seattle suburban life. But my hand-washing skills are on par and I'm in good health, so I considered my chances of getting the coronavirus to be low and my odds of survival quite high. My plan was to keep on living my life without interruption.

Tonight, I see things a bit differently.

Yesterday morning, I went to a medical clinic for a routine laser procedure on my eye. (Yes. My eye was literally blasted with lasers and it was wild.) It wasn't till I was standing in line to check in for my appointment that I realized I was in Kirkland, epicenter of our Covid-19 nursing home outbreak, and that the hospital where many of those elderly victims died was right next door.

As I sat in a tiny waiting area - not much more than a half-dozen chairs squeezed into a hallway - I took note of our close quarters. Now granted, no one appeared to be sick. No one coughed during the half hour I sat there. But as my fellow waiters came and went, and countless more people walked up and down the hallway in front of us, I couldn't help but notice that the recommended six-foot personal bubble we're been advised to maintain was an impossibility. And I realized that any one of these people could be carrying the virus - symptom free - and simply by breathing in my air space, could be infecting me.

For that matter, I could be the one who's already infected and passing the disease on to them.

This is a sobering thought.

* * * * *

Today, I talked to several of my math moms, and we all agreed that our community seems to be at a tipping point. A confirmed case of coronavirus has popped up at the church where most of my math families attend, and that strikes very close to home. The advantages of meeting with my students in person simply no longer outweigh the realities of the disease, and I decided that until the epidemic has blown through, I'm moving all of my classes to Youtube, effective immediately.

Two days ago, I would have thought that to be an extremely difficult decision to make.
A week ago, I would have laughed at the very notion.

But today, it felt absolutely right.

* * * * *

Tonight, the circle closed even tighter. I teach several of my math classes to a co-op. What that means, in homeschooling parlance, is that a number of like-minded families meet up so students can work, learn, and play together. Meeting in one family's home, the moms teach most subjects but also hire out some of the more advanced instruction. I handle the load for upper level mathematics and a gentleman named Mr. B teaches high school literature and history.

There've been a few nasty non-Covid viruses running through the group, so I haven't met with these students in person for the last two weeks. And thankfully, neither did Mr. B. Because, although he is as yet unconfirmed, on Saturday he came down with a sore throat and a fever and suspects he has coronavirus.

Was I exposed? Were the students exposed? What about all the grandparents, babies, immune-challenged siblings with whom we've since interacted? What about the random strangers who've wandered into our six-foot bubbles and breathed in the tiny virus particles that we breathed out?

Or was Mr. B exposed to the disease after his last meeting with this group of students, so that he didn't teach them or even come into the house during the days that he was incubating the disease?

We don't know. We'll never know. All we can do is wait and see what happens.

 * * * * *

Today, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a statewide ban on gatherings and events of 250 people or more, effective now through at least the end of March and indefinitely as needed.  There's been a huge amount of chatter - both live and digital - about social distancing. What epidemiologists tell us is that the best way to break the exponential growth of an epidemic is to stay home as much as possible, to limit the opportunities the virus has to jump silently from one set of lungs to another, to lay quietly in one unsuspecting victim as she accidentally infects another one, two, three or more. 

Now let me be clear. I'm not anxious. I'm not fearful. There's been a lot of conversation about how the media is whipping this little disease up into a hellstorm, and besides a handful of sick people in Asia, there really isn't all that much to be concerned about, and if you're worried, you're over-reacting.

Well, I'm here to tell you that Covid-19 is for real, and when it hits, it hits hard.

If your area is not yet in the cross hairs of coronavirus, stop right now and give thanks.

Then stay up to date on our experts' best understanding of how the disease works, and how you can do your part to keep your community as healthy as possible. Because the odds are very good that Covid-19 is coming your way. And you had best be prepared.

As for me, I'll be laying low for a while. Social distancing is my new jam.

* * * * *

Read more stories about life with Covid-19 here in suburban Seattle:

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