We canceled our trip to Park City today (we were supposed to leave on Wednesday) and we are not going to the Billie Eilish concert (which is so far still scheduled for Sunday). School is closed for us as of today (they closed two days early and then it’s our scheduled two week spring break) and I will be working from home for the foreseeable future.
You are looking at our spring break plans in the photo up above, although we might leave the city to hunker down in our house.
I think posting about my feelings yesterday and reading all of your comments, especially those from followers in Italy, China and Iran helped me to fully grasp the implications of travel and large gatherings. Yesterday when I posted, if you told me this is where I would be today, I would not have believed you. But over the course of the last 24 hours, I realized that it’s not just about feeling personally in danger (yes, I understand that kids and young healthy people are not in a high risk group), it’s about doing everything in my power not to contribute to the spread. Even if we don’t get particularly sick, we have the potential to infect higher risk people, like our parents in their 70s, whose immune systems might not be as equipped to handle COVID-19.
I made the decision to skip Billie Eilish first. That sucked but seemed like the only sane thing to do. The decision not to go to Park City was tougher. We go every year and it’s one of our favorite family trips. Our feeling initially was that Park City seemed like a safer place to be than New York City, and that we would be spending most of the time outdoors, which didn’t seem as risky as being inside a large venue.
Then I started thinking about being inside the lodge for lunch and how you are in close quarters with so many people. A logical solution would be to pack a lunch every day and eat back in our room. But then I imagined going to the grocery store in Park City and them being out of everything we needed. Here, we already have all our essentials stocked, but if there was an outbreak while we were in Park City, we would have to start from scratch.
And then I started thinking about something even scarier. We would be leaving our community of people we know who all live in New York and entering into an environment where people could potentially be coming in from all over. So even though there are more cases here, the unknown factors increase exponentially once we go away to a travel destination. Then there is also the fact that we would be coming from a place with a lot of cases and even though we are not exhibiting any symptoms, there is the possibility that we would be carrying the virus and helping the spread.
I don’t know if I could live with that. And I’m not even talking about the possibility of infecting someone, I’m talking about the fact that I would have made a selfish choice even though there was a possibility of putting others at risk.
Late last night, I was stressing and spiraling, reading everything I could. Then I read an article called “Cancel Everything” in the Atlantic. In it, the author writes about the author makes the case for “social distancing” by recounting the death tolls in two different cities during the influenza epidemic of 1918, which infected a quarter of the U.S. population, killing hundreds of thousands nationally and millions across the globe.
“As the disease was spreading, Wilmer Krusen, Philadelphia’s health commissioner, allowed a huge parade to take place on September 28; some 200,000 people marched. In the following days and weeks, the bodies piled up in the city’s morgues. By the end of the season, 12,000 residents had died.
In St. Louis, a public-health commissioner named Max Starkloff decided to shut the city down. Ignoring the objections of influential businessmen, he closed the city’s schools, bars, cinemas, and sporting events. Thanks to his bold and unpopular actions, the per capita fatality rate in St. Louis was half that of Philadelphia. (In total, roughly 1,700 people died from influenza in St Louis.)
In the coming days, thousands of people across the country will face the choice between becoming a Wilmer Krusen or a Max Starkloff.”
You should read the whole article.
This morning, I woke up and knew what we had to do. Mike actually took less convincing than I expected. We canceled everything. We are bummed, but I feel good about our decision. Relieved, actually.
I want to be a Max Starkloff. I urge everyone who is making similar decisions to be a Max Starkloff too. Think about the larger community and those who do not have the luxury of making these choices. By working from home and avoiding social gatherings and canceling traveling plans, we make it that much less risky for the people who cannot afford to stay at home, for those whose immune systems are already compromised and for the elderly. We help keep hospital beds open for those who most need it so that our healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed. We can potentially lessen the speed of the spread and the impact across the entire globe. As everyone is saying, let’s all work to “flatten the curve.”
I hope Billie Eilish cancels. Not just because it might be rescheduled and we would still get to go, but because I read so many tweets from her fans last night saying they would do whatever they could to see her. Including risking getting the virus. These are mostly kids who are not thinking about exposing their parents and grandparents. 20k fearless young people in one venue.
We need the adults involved to make the responsible decision.
Update: Billie Eilish postponed her tour! Mazzy was so excited when I told her that our tickets would be honored for a later date.
You can follow my family over on @mommyshorts on Instagram.