Right now feels very strange. Like we are all living in a science fiction movie, just waiting for the outbreak to hit. This past weekend, I kept imagining that the streets were empty and the stores were all closed and everybody was quarantined in our homes indefinitely, but then I risked going outside to get a pizza and saw that, no. People were still outside. The guys in the pizza place were still making pizza. The corner bodega was still stocked with groceries and operating as normal. So, maybe I was overreacting?
But then today, NYC started to feel like a ghost town.
Our city bus to school this morning was almost completely empty. Harlow’s class was half full. Mazzy’s math tutor canceled because she’s been self quarantined due to a confirmed case at her school. Harlow’s reading tutor requested we do her session over Facetime. The art auction we go to every year was supposed to be tonight and canceled. NYU Law just announced that they will be doing the rest of the semester online. Offices are closing or suggesting people work remotely. As of tomorrow, Allie and I will start working from home.
So no, things are not normal. Things are starting to shift very quickly. My friend who canceled theater plans last weekend no longer looks crazy. The Coronavirus might not be infecting everything (yet), but it is slowly affecting everything.
What’s interesting about living in a big city during a virus outbreak as opposed to a suburb is that we come into contact with thousands of people a day, while only traveling in a ten block radius from our home. I remember reading something about one of the first patients in the US and the 12 people he came into contact with since he contracted the virus. 12 people? I come into contact with 5X that many people if I go downstairs and get a coffee from across the street.
Not that I’m going outside to get coffee anymore. I can make it in my kitchen germ-free!
Did you hear about the family in St. Louis who could have potentially infected a ton of people? There are conflicting stories about whether or not they are at fault, but from my understanding, one daughter was awaiting Coronavirus test results and the dad took the other daughter to a school dance. Meanwhile, the mom went to the grocery store and to get her nails done. Now they are being vilified for a potential outbreak.
I keep thinking what would happen if I got it and how that would look to the rest of the world. She wasn’t at home! I saw her take her kids to get ice cream on her Instagram story! And then the next day she took her kids to school on a city bus! I saw her daughter wipe her nose on her jacket! And then she went to her office in a WeWork and got coffee from the communal kitchen! And then she picked up her kids from school and took her daughter to dance class where she interacted with mothers and students from other school districts! And then she sold Girl Scout cookies on the street to complete strangers! They sold 60 boxes! She saw She Persisted at the Atlantic Theater on a Saturday! It was a sold out show! And then she went to her friend’s birthday party! And then she bought Q-tips and toilet paper at a CVS!
On a more serious note, I know that me and my family are not part of the high risk population, but I worry for my parents and our older relatives. Thankfully, my mom broke her foot a few weeks ago and is already under strict doctor orders remain in bed, so she has been home and will stay at home for awhile anyway. My dad went to Florida and is now afraid to travel back. He’s been sending me photos of himself wearing a dog cone, because he says he can’t get his hands on a mask and this helps him not touch his face while also containing any germs he might be carrying. He’s only half joking. My stepmom has self-quarantined herself in their house, so they plan to live apart for the foreseeable future.
I heard that many colleges have decided to close their campuses and teach the rest of the semester online. Allie and I were talking about how devastated we would have been if were seniors who were suddenly missing out on the last few months of our college experience. I’ve also heard some pretty nightmarish stories (some personal stories from friends) about how the virus will have real impacts on all different industries and people’s jobs. Plus, if they cancel school, there are so many parents who work by the hour or in the service industry and can’t afford to stay at home.
Many people have canceled weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, conferences and concerts. Speaking of concerts, we’ve got the Billie Eilish concert this Sunday night. We’ve had tickets since September. I surprised Mazzy with them for her birthday and she has been so excited about it. Do we go???? I’m actually hoping it will be canceled and rescheduled so I don’t have to make a decision. I think it would have to be Billie Eilish who cancels it, because Madison Square Garden isn’t going to do it. Unless, the mayor or governor steps in and bans large gatherings in New York, like Inslee did in Seattle.
I’m leaning towards not going. I don’t want to risk being infected by one of the 20,000 people in attendance. And it’s not just the 20,000 people in attendance, it’s also all the people who been in Madison Square Garden for the past ten days. Even worse, I don’t want to be the one who infects other people! To be clear, I have no symptoms whatsoever. Just general outbreak anxiety.
It seems like whether you get the virus or not, it’s going to have a lasting impact on all of us.