My COVID-19 Journal

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March 16

Day 1: The first official day of the COVID-19 lockdown looks like this: I’m in my house, sending emails, watching the news periodically, and wondering how many people it takes to clear a grocery store (which I have’t yet attempted going to). For me, currently on Long Island, it’s the first day all non-essential public places will shut down. After 8 PM tonight everyone will be social distancing and working from home. Thank goodness I actually went for my Hand & Stone massage over the weekend. The silver lining for me is that, as a writer, I already work from home. The ironic part of it all is that I already feel socially distant because of it, and only recently began scrolling through Eventbrite for group events. I guess it’s back to my old ways. 

What’s changed? Nothing, yet, except it seems I can’t go to the gym for two hours like I usually would on a Monday. I’m going to order in sushi, since takeout is still available, and look up new ways to stay in shape. While I’m at it I’ll probably see if there are any free online courses to take. Oh, and my big birthday plans have officially been cancelled because my cousin (who was scheduled to get married on the same day) had to postpone her wedding to July. I know I said after 30 I didn’t need to celebrate my birthday anymore but now I wonder if I actually meant it.

What I’ll always remember: The first question that was asked after New York State Governor Cuomo finished discussing the next steps in flattening the curve. It wasn’t about government funding, testing, or even the schooling system. It was about gyms closing down. I’m paraphrasing, but it sounded a little like “Mayor DeBlasio was at a gym this morning. Did you know that? So, you’re closing gyms down?  Can I go to the gym at 2PM? Do you go to a gym?” I know I just polled gym safety on Instagram, but seriously?

 

March 17

Day 2: After seeing social media flood with, what seemed like, pictures of empty shelves at the grocery store I decided to go to Stop & Shop. Most of the shelves were stocked as normal except there was absolutely no antibacterial/disinfesting products, paper towels and toilet paper were noticeably absent, and frozen vegetables sold out. I’d really like to see the people hoarding the toiletry products. I got most of what I wanted but tomorrow I’ll head to Trader Joe’s because, well, it’s Trader Joe’s. I called to check upon my elderly cousin. She’s 86 and works at a nursing home where she runs the recreational department for ‘the elderly’. She informed me that she’s still going into work, by choice, but gets screened every day. Inspiring.

What’s changed? Videos of Italian’s singing from their balconies has officially gone viral, causing the world to collectively “aw” in unison. I never realized how many people have balconies in that country, or how many could actually sing. To help flatten the curve, and protect the most vulnerable, supermarkets are imposing designated shopping times for the elderly and first responders. I also started a new [free] online course from edX and PrincetonX called Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism (HOPE, a fitting acronym). A ton of people are posting free online workout sessions, or offering virtual workout sessions for a fee. I haven’t done any yet but plan to tomorrow morning.

What I’ll always remember: The guy at the grocery store who had a mild fit over Snapple being sold out. Snapple. I bet he’s a Snapple Real Fact collector.

 

March 19

Day 4: Not much happened yesterday so there was no point in blogging about it. Chalk it up to a lazy day where time passed by and I have no idea WTF I even did, aside from taking off my FitBit for the first time since December. I don’t need to be reminded how much I’m not walking, pass.

Today, however, felt like the first day of the rest of my self-quarantined life. I had my first virtual editorial meeting on Zoom. I bet that company’s doing extremely well right now. Aside from realizing how many meetings really could have been emails, or benefitted from use of video over audio, it was an eye opening conversation. For a paper that is so deeply rooted into its community, and thus a majority of stories are focused on social gatherings, one would think that content would have cutbacks. Not the case at all. COVID-19 has opened up a new world of discussion. I’m actually looking forward to the news we’ll be churning out next. Also, I finally worked out again thanks to 305 Fitness and Facebook Live.

What’s changed? Healthcare workers. The news is filling up with a shortage in PPE (personal protective equipment) for those on the frontlines. Since healthcare workers need to constantly change their masks between patients, to reduce the spread, as the numbers of infected increase so does the demand for new resources. Since that demand isn’t being met at the rate it’s so desperately needed, doctors and nurses are substituting proper attire for inadequate alternatives, while also becoming sick with COVID-19 themselves. Thus, becoming a bigger strain on the system.  I learn about everything firsthand through my cousin who works at a hospital in Philadelphia. 

What I’ll always remember: The sound of the ice cream man down my street. The whole world may be having a meltdown but Mr. Softee is cool as a popsicle. 

March 21

Day 6: I needed to go to Stop & Shop for some goods (dog food, detergent, etc). The shelves were packed with things, given I also went at 8 AM. A few elderly people were still there and everyone kept their distance, and patience, waiting for those more vulnerable to move onto their next item. I managed to get to the beach today. The waves crashing on the shoreline echoed the same as they did months ago, a reminder that life will go on.

What’s changed? I saw my significant other for the first time in two weeks, officially making him one of two people I allow myself to see. He lives in an apartment while I ride this thing out in a house. Not even love could save us if we were stuck in 750 sqft together for weeks on end. The traffic Saturday midday felt more like a Monday midday, busy but relatively spacious.

What I’ll always remember: Locking my car keys in the truck outside of Stop & Shop. Apparently I was so eager to get home and wash my hands that I dropped the keys in a grocery bag. If my keys were in the front seat the car would remain unlocked, but in the trunk I’m screwed. It makes no sense. Even though it was around 40 degrees, I remained outside as I awaited for help to arrive. Because COVID.

March 22

Day 7: My S.O. and I decided to go for a walk through Branch Brook Park in New Jersey. The 360 acres of public space make it the nations first county park, and “noted for the largest collection of cherry blossom trees in the United States”. It was my first time and the cherry blossoms were just beginning to bloom– pure magic. People kept their distance, for the most part. I analyzed every group passing by. Do they live together? Is this six feet away? 

What’s changed? I’m always checking the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center for numbers and stats, as healthy or unhealthy as that may be. New York is now a COVID-19 battlefield with over 10,500 active cases in NYC alone, around 3k where I am across Long Island, and over 15k in the states total. That total is up nearly 10k from the day before. Pretty sure when Ol Blue Eyes sang “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” he wasn’t talking about a sweeping pandemic. The state is now considered locked down after 8 PM.

What I’ll always remember: Driving through the city on my way home. It was a complete ghost town, like something out the film “I Am Legend”. The city that never sleeps is suddenly in a coma. As a born and raised New Yorker, who celebrated her birthday at the World Trade Center March of 2001 (six months before 9/11) and watched the towers fall from her Queens apartment, this was a new level of surreal.

 

March 26

Day 11: Today I did my first group Zoom for the intentions of a YouTube video. I was alongside four other speakers, who I’d never met before, and a panel host, who happens to be a good friend of mine. The title of the talk was “You Are The Key: A Mindset Development Series”, which I was humbled to join in on. However, I’m finding that the longer things go on the more grounded my perspective has become. As a reporter for a newspaper my mindset is focused on facts. It’s difficult to think about spirituality at a time when I need to relay actualities. At one point I insinuated I wasn’t even spiritual– which is hardly the case. Oh well.

What’s changed? The other day my SO decided to keep us active, while distant, through a FitBit Weekday Hustle competition. So far, I’m winning. The Olympics have officially been postponed to a date in 2021. That marks the first time in modern history that the games have been disrupted, but it was unavoidable. And I finally decided to purchase a water filter from PUR so I don’t have to buy water bottles anymore. Since I consider myself environmentally conscious, admitting that publicly is embarrassing. Better late than never. 

What I’ll always remember: On March 24 the Governor gave a speech. Taking it directly  from the Governors website, the most memorable words read, “we’re going to get through it because we are New York…we are New York tough….because I love New York, and I love New York because New York loves you. New York loves all of you…It always has, it always will. And at the end of the day, even if it is a long day, and this is a long day, love wins. Always. And it will win again through this virus.”

March 28

Day 13: The other day I got my first workout mat, thanks to Amazon. It came just in time to do a Zoom workout with an East End instructor, Ina Visich, in my backyard. And yesterday I went Facebook Live with three of my tips for staying sane (journaling, getting outside, and understanding the difference between facts and fear). But today, is my birthday. My SO picked me up and we spent the day inside watching movies, having a drink. It wasn’t anything memorable, aside from the world shifting, but being thankful for my health and those around me was special enough.

What’s changed? #ClapBecauseWeCare . At 7 PM, the local areas (NYC, Hoboken, Jersey City, parts of Long Island, etc.) began clapping outside of their windows and doors to show gratitude and appreciation for those on the frontlines. Some bang pots and pans, others shouted in celebration, and countless of hands clapped together. It echoed through the streets, the buildings, maybe even the trees.

What I’ll always remember: The sense of community of each individual clap.  It may not be an Italian song but it echoes just the same.

March 31

Day 16: I went food shopping again, Trader Joes and Stop & Shop. It was a complete contrast in experiencing. Trader Joes limited to 30 people inside at a time, causing a wrap around line in the parking lot where people stood six feet (or more) apart. Inside the shelves were fully stocked and about 90% of others wore masks (myself included). Meanwhile, Stop & Shop had no regulation, shelves stocked, and majority of customers went in without face coverage.

What’s changed? Yesterday, on March 30, the US Navy Ship Comfort docked in Manhattan to relieve some hospitals of regular patients. They say it’s not for COVID-19 beds, but I have a feeling that’s going to change. And Trump also announced another 30 days of social distancing. So much for having the economy up and running by Easter, but who am I to talk finances.

What I’ll always remember: Getting excited for another 30 days. And being acutely aware that I quite possibly am lazier than I thought. All those things I said I’d do if I had the time? Turns out, not true.

April 2

Day 18: I can’t believe I actually watched Tiger King, or finished watching it I could say. It’s as though Netflix predicted we’d all be forced to remain inside our homes and decided to release a train wreck of a documentary series. The end did justify the means though. Putting a zoo keeper behind bars? Poetic justice.

What’s changed? The Javits Center has officially been turned into a hospital facility for COVID-19 patients. Governor Cuomo continues to impress America. And I debuted my health care worker spotlight with The Independent Newspaper, something I’m very excited about.

What I’ll always remember: Having nothing to remember, for the first time.

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