COVID-19 PANDEMIC 2020-1-cvt


P​eople are being asked to “shelter in place” (stay at home)

We are in the midst of a global war against coronavirus/COVID-19. Here in the United States, our health experts are telling us that the thousands of tests for coronavirus that are now being done will soon result in a very sharp increase in the reported rate of infection. We are already seeing that.

People – myself included – are justifiably fearful. That has driven a run on stores that sell groceries, dry goods and disinfectant products. Long lines of people form outside stores, even before those stores open. Soon after they do, their shelves are quickly emptied of such items as paper towels, disinfecting wipes, tissues, bread, canned goods and other staples including, inexplicably, toilet paper!

Over the weekend, I tried to stock up on several grocery items. I went to a warehouse store in time for their 7:00AM opening, but they had opened early. Customers were already emerging from the exit, their shopping carts filled.

T​he shopping carts were all taken by 7:00 AM
To get a shopping cart, c​ustomers had to follow customers who were leaving, in order to take theirs.

Inside the store, their recent deliveries of paper towels, toilet paper, a popular brand of bread, the tissues that I buy and more were already sold out (please accept my apologies for using an iPhone to take these photos, but I did not want to draw any more attention to myself than necessary).

B​read used to be here

When I was ready to check out with the little that I had managed to find, the very slowly moving lines to the cash registers spread all the way across and to the back of the store!

S​hoppers patiently and calmly waiting in an ultra-long line to check out (way far away, at the front of the store)
T​his is me waiting in line too
M​y shopping cart, containing what little I was able to find
S​hoppers seemed grateful for what they were able to find
T​o avoid the traffic jam in the parking lot, I had parked far away from the entrance, on the street behind the store. A shopper came and claimed my cart, beating someone else in the process.

On Sunday I arrived at another warehouse store location shortly after 9:30 AM – well before that store’s posted opening time of 10 AM. A long line of people – many with their empty shopping carts – stretched outside from the store’s entrance, around the corner and all the way to the back, by the loading dock. At 9:52AM, as we were slowly walking in line towards the entrance, a store employee told us that they were already sold out of paper towels and toilet paper. Most of us – myself included – were in line standing close to each other and not wearing masks, so if anyone of us was asymptomatic – infected with coronavirus, but not yet showing symptoms – we were all at risk from catching it. We will not know for up to two weeks.

W​aiting in line for store opening
L​istening to announcements from a store employee, while waiting around the back of the warehouse
T​he back end of the line begins to move
W​e’re almost at the front of the store
G​etting close, but they are already sold out of paper towels and toilet paper, among other things
Yay! A​lmost in!
.​.. and here we go!
This earlybird scored paper towels
T​his earlybird scored toilet paper
A​nother line — for facial tissues (limited to one box of each brand, per customer)
I​nside the loading dock. Sorry, no more trucks making deliveries.
I​ scored some liquid soap. By 2:00 PM all of this was gone too.
O​f course there was a long line to check out, but not nearly as long as at the other store they day before.

O​ther stores were similarly out of stock of in-demand items.

S​tore shelves picked clean

Humans do not have a natural immunity to COVID-19, there is no cure for it and, unlike with the flu, there is no vaccine for it either. A vaccine is at least a year to 18 months away. Infected people can spread it before they even have reason to suspect that they have it.

Coronavirus is disproportionately most dangerous and deadly to seniors and to people who have certain underlying health issues. It is causing unprecedented disruptions to our daily way of life and to our economy.

The situation is dire – unlike anything we have ever experienced before, and it is likely going to get much worse, as it has already done in China and Italy. To avoid spreading coronavirus, it is of utmost importance that we all practice “social distancing” – keeping at least six feet from each other.

Our hospitals are not sufficiently equipped and staffed for the likely and imminent mass onslaught of very sick people who will require hospitalization. We do not have enough hospital space, Intensive Care Unit beds, ventilators and personal protective equipment, including face masks, nor is there likely enough medical personnel.

These health care N95 particulate respirators and surgical masks are in extremely short supply. They protect against certain airborne biological particles.

To slow the rapid pace of the transmission of coronavirus, local, state and the Federal government are implementing a variety of drastic but necessary preventative measures. It has been officially recommended that people not gather in groups of more than ten. Schools are sending their students home to study. Public events are being postponed or cancelled. Restaurants are being closed to all but takeout service. Companies, where possible, are letting their employees work from home, but many hourly employees are being laid off.

We are being asked or ordered to “shelter in place” in our homes. That personal sacrifice is something very effective that we can do to help “flatten the curve,” to reduce the rate of transmission of coronavirus and thus ease the volume of coronavirus cases that will need treatment in hospitals’ emergency rooms.

We are all in this together and the stakes are high. That said, there are many things that we can do to make staying at home a pleasant and positive experience. With that in mind, my shopping trip included the purchase of the “FORD v FERRARI” DVD.

M​y fun purchase of the weekend, for sheltering in place at home

Be well. This will pass.

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Jan Wagner

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