The Plague is Here, Part Nine — Battening Down the Hatches

I just finished my last outside chore — an estate sale to buy books for the Etsy shop — and we are officially on full lockdown mode at Apt. 11D. I showered after going outside. We’ll replace all the towels and wash all major surfaces — door knobs, handles, electronics, car, glasses, sinks, countertops, and so on.

The only way to change the trajectory of this virus in our country is be cleaner than clean and avoid all other people, all the time.

Here are some measures that we’re implementing for surviving social distancing:

  • We’re taking a very, very strict approach to social distancing, as is now being recommended by all public health professionals. That means no playdates for kids. No dinner parties. No college kid beerfests. Not even if it is with two or three people. Zero contact.
  • We’re cancelling the housecleaner, but paying her anyway. We’ll mail her the check.
  • No visits to the oldies. But we’ll all FaceTime with them.
  • A key to fighting this virus to have a healthy immune system, so we’re going for two hour long walks/hike every day. Fresh air and sunlight are so, so, so important.
  • Know what’s in your pantry, and plan your meals ahead of time.
  • Keep in touch with friends and family. Make sure that they have enough supplies. Use the college kids, with their super healthy immune systems, to drop off extra food on the doorstep of family/friends.
  • Be aware of the coming crisis, but do not watch CNN obsessively all day. We did this after 9/11, and it was very bad for our mental health.
  • Spend the weekend creating organized, clean workspaces for yourselves and your kids. Everyone will be working for home for quite a while.
  • Shop online. Keep that economy going. Buy yourself a cute outfit at the GAP. Buy books on Amazon. And when it’s safe, go to your local small businesses and buy twice as much as you usually do.
  • As I just told Jonah, anytime you go outside, imagine that everything you touch is covered in poop. When you get back in the house, if you touched people/door handles/been in public zones, shower and put all your clothes in the washing machine.
  • I don’t want to alarm people, but we have to be super realistic. They are burying people in mass graves in Iran. They are not treating old people in Italy. Things are going to get really bad here unless we make MASSIVE changes. Like massive.

More to come. This will be updated throughout the day…

23 thoughts on “The Plague is Here, Part Nine — Battening Down the Hatches

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Keep it coming. Love that you are a few steps ahead of many of your readers and are sharing your wisdom. I’m in the rural Midwest. Colleges shut down and social distancing encouraged, but schools are still open (I’m a teacher). I went to stock up yesterday and Walmart, Target, malls, restaurants were as busy as usual. People aren’t staying home yet. TP and wipes are nearly impossible to find. I have a fair amount of family and coworkers who think this is all hype/Democrats/the media/China/Big Pharma and will blow over quickly. A close friend lives in Long Beach, CA. The school district is now closed until April 20. No plans for online learning. Instead, parents were told that the school year will run until late June.

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    1. I think the “fear of God” in MN came for some when the NCAA wrestling was cancelled. Was supposed to be 43,000 people next weekend. But while my campus is closing for next week, faculty (and staff and admin) are gathering on Monday. Damn. My whole setup is online. I volunteered to help faculty who need to learn about online, but I did not see large “all college” meetings coming. Not sure if I’m going to attend. I can call in remotely for all sorts of meetings, why not this one?

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  2. We ordered gift certificates from our favorite local restaurant. Social distancing is a huge blow to the hospitality industry.

    Spain has locked down.

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    1. S managed to get back into Spain this afternoon at 3 pm Spain time. She was in Vienna. DON’T ASK. I don’t understand her decisions. My plan was to redirect her to cousins in Germany if need be.

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      1. S is leaving Spain in less than 12 hours and returning to the US via Dublin. My first goal was to get her out of Spain, and Dublin and Lisbon were the cheapest ways. She chose Dublin. She’ll stay a night there then be back in the US Monday night. I might send her straight to Ithaca to decontaminate as both the men in my house have weak respiratory systems; E has had pneumonia twice already. Pros of Ithaca: the boyfriend is there and the population has thinned out. But there are still some people there.

        Also, my university doesn’t want me on campus till after Tuesday because I was in Barcelona till Mar 3. They sent this email today even though I was on campus on Thursday and Friday. So … ?

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      2. I hope her travels go well! I know several people who have or had kids out of the country and they are tearing their hair out.

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      3. If all goes right (cross your fingers for us) #3 will get home from Scotland Tuesday, via London and Keflavik. Icelandair made some money for ticket changes, and, well, they deserve it.

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      4. kid is (all fingers crossed), flying home today from the east coast. Her college changed the moved up the eviction date on Saturday, putting many kids in a tizzy. we had already moved her to Sunday. Airports are reportedly crowded bcause of the Europe restrictions. It’s interesting to see the concrete evidence of how much more global we are as a society. I mean, how many of the commenters here had family abroad in the last two weeks? I did, for example.

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      5. bj said, “kid is (all fingers crossed), flying home today from the east coast. Her college changed the moved up the eviction date on Saturday, putting many kids in a tizzy. we had already moved her to Sunday. Airports are reportedly crowded bcause of the Europe restrictions. It’s interesting to see the concrete evidence of how much more global we are as a society. I mean, how many of the commenters here had family abroad in the last two weeks? I did, for example.”

        I know!

        My sister and her husband and small son were just visiting their big college kid in Germany, and now the big college kid is coming home, as his school in Germany is closed for at least 4 weeks.

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  3. The 1st grader said, a propos of nothing, “It’s terrible what’s happening!”

    I’ve turned into a hand-washing and face-touching Nazi and I have told her a number of times, “Because a lot of people are sick!”

    However, it turned out that she was talking about a plot twist on Bakugan.

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  4. Interesting that you get compliance on family isolation — A group of us here (where we’ve been prepping for the plague for several weeks) have college kids returning home. A significant discussion is whether the college kids will comply with the house restrictions. Mine will, but mine are not nearly as restrictive as yours. Our kids will, unless there is further guidance or they get sick, be allowed to have 1-2 friends over and to visit other’s houses (in groups of 2-3). I demand hand washing, but showers on entry. Others have restrictions more like yours, and one concern was whether the child would just refuse to stay home if asked to comply.

    One of the moms said that she had been on a discussion with her kids school, and someone said, “well it will be a good time to spend time with the family” and the schools advisor said, “well, that works for some families.” I’m glad my family seems to be that sort. We’ll squabble a lot, but we’ll enjoy each other’s company, too.

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    1. I have to say that I’ve been puzzled about your comments about whether or not Jonah will listen to me or not. Things don’t work that way around here. He does what we say. He will sneak around to get around various home rules (and we know that and turn a blind eye to some stuff), but rules like this are not negotiable. When we said “no Alaska”, he whined for a minute and then got over it.

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      1. It’s a very UMC/middle-class attitude. My opinion is it takes more than one generation to develop it. I certainly wouldn’t have complied with the decontamination if it was said to me with that tone, or complied with boyfriend can’t visit. My kids wouldn’t have complied. But, I wasn’t financially dependent and neither were my kids. My parents (and me) wouldn’t have expected it.

        On the other hand, I have colleagues who get their kids to visit by paying the airfare – their kids are over 30! Those “kids” do seem to still ask for permission to do certain things. I know some UMC (and on this board) expect their parents to help them pay for things for the grandkids.

        I grew up lower working class. I send my mother money and from the people I know with similar background, they do the same. People who are financially dependent on you don’t have the authority to tell you no or to expect you to consult them about decisions. Of course, I was married at Jonah’s age, so I certainly wasn’t going to listen to my parents tell me I couldn’t do something.

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      2. Tulip said, “It’s a very UMC/middle-class attitude.”

        I think it’s a bit more complicated than that. A lot of recent immigrant parents expect to dictate to their young adult children. So aside from the white blue collar/white middle class split (which you are identifying), there’s also the WASP/ethnic split, with blue collar WASPs being traditionally more comfortable booting kids out and changing the locks when they reach 18.

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      3. Oh, and you’ve already done the summer at home after college (twice, right?). We haven’t. We talked a lot about what it was like to have the kids home for long winter break (which was planned, expected, a vacation, and normal). Now, we are suddenly faced with having the kids home early for their first post-semi-adult period at home (while they are still in school) in the middle of significant social distancing, and with kids who have been experiencing the pandemic very differently from us. Lots of emotions everywhere.

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      4. I don’t think it falls neatly into categories of UMC/middle-class, blue collar, etc. Every family is different–individual personalities likely play a role.

        My children (when it’s all added up) have traveled to the west coast, Asia, Africa, Europe, with school groups or with friends. We haven’t done all that much travel as a family, other than visiting family and college visits. As they attended boarding schools, “visiting friends” may entail traveling to other countries.

        Nevertheless, if my kids need to come home during the outbreak, we’ll welcome them. No matter their age, everyone in the house needs to respect social distancing from people outside the house. We’ve been trying to figure out how we would quarantine one family member, if it should become necessary. Assign one bathroom to the sick person, make them stay in one bedroom, and one other family member delivers food?

        When shopping, I haven’t been hearing people coughing. Nor are people looking feverish. The local grocery store does deliver. It’s waived fees for delivery for the next month or so. The service seems to be overbooked, though.

        I have noticed many people “shopping local,” though, rather than heading to the next big city. It’s a shot in the arm for local retailers. Our local store had empty shelves for: toilet paper, potatoes, certain brands of boxed lettuce, broccoli, canned beans, and chicken.

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    2. Aaah, because lots of children don’t behave that way in my social circle. Not my own, who are pretty compliant, but we have experienced children who have moved out (in high school!) because they didn’t want to follow their parents rules. How do they move out without money? friends with big houses, usually.

      Presumably, at some point, Jonah won’t do what you say anymore?

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      1. Well, at least won’t do it without agreeing with you. I’ve been thinking a lot about the transition of children to adulthood, and how it modifies relationships with parents (i.e. that’s my only interest in the Megan/Harry royal drama). Situations like this one, semi-adult children coming home, tax those relationships in a variety of ways.

        (And, I, personally have a systematic dislike of looking the other way — in public law as well as in my family. I want information and behavior to be open. Mind, you, that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in privacy. But, if my kid is going to use marijuana, which is legal in my state, but not at 18, I want to know. If I smoked, I would be open about it, too).

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    3. Moving out was brought up in response to the rules discussion in our group. At least one could do so with their own financial resources (though that particular child won’t, unless his parents are good with it).

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  5. I’m in the process of ironing out coronavirus protocols with my two neighborhood mom friends.

    I’m explaining what we have been doing/are doing/plan to do, and I’m hearing from them about what their comfort zone is.

    If we are able to come to an agreement, my 9th grader is going to have a running buddy for the duration.

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