A Glimpse of Life under Quarantine

My retirement community put everyone under quarantine yesterday. We are all still figuring out some of the details of how this works. We are not supposed to leave our apartments; we can only leave the building for medical appointments; if we do go out for appointments, we need to be screened when we return. All of this is due to one resident who lives in supported living showing symptoms of Covid-19. That person has been tested, but it takes days to get the results. 

Supported living has actually been under quarantine for at least a week while independent living has been under a less stringent regimen: no activities; dining room, gym, and pool closed; meals delivered; we were free to leave the building for walks or errands without being checked when returned. So if supported living had already been under quarantine how did the virus show up there?

Apparently, cases are showing up in assisted living facilities and nursing homes across the Seattle metro area because many employees work in more than one facility. Since people don’t even need to be sick in order to transmit the virus, these shared caregivers are unable to know if they might be carriers. This is but one of so many details that we are slowly coming to grips with.

Our new quarantine regimen is rapidly resulting in grumpy residents. “Charlie” and I have the good fortune of having a door directly across from our neighbor. We can each stand in our doorway and chat and grumble. And we can marvel at how our 93 year old neighbor, who fell and hurt herself badly six months ago, is once again independent and thriving – but desperately wanting to do her laundry and take out the garbage. Others, with whom we now communicate online, are wondering if we might all use this opportunity to write our obituaries that appear on our memorial board when one of us dies. 

The smartest Tweet I’ve seen today suggests that the best way to minimize effects of this virus on our economy would be to create an at-home test with instant results. If we had this, individuals would know if they could venture out to cafes and stores without the risk of contaminating others. The need for shutting down all manner of venues and events would end. Without such a test, we have no good options to “flatten the curve” of this epidemic. Without flattening the curve, we risk catastrophe in our health care system. 

It’s absolutely shocking to witness the effects of this virus on our economy. Back when I was naive, I contemplated a pandemic as a way of reducing the earth’s population. But I didn’t really think through the effect on the people who don’t die. Now I read the Seattle Times coronavirus update each day to see that our local restaurant industry is dying. Without very patient landlords, many that are closing will never open again. (Landlords, please note: no one else is going to rent that space from you right now, so you might as well be patient.) Along with talented chefs becoming bored, all their lowly employees will be without any income. 

At least these newly unemployed workers will be able to stay home with their kids whose schools have been shut down, by order of the governor, for a minimum of six weeks. Perhaps these parents can take in kids of our health care workers who will be working double shifts for the foreseeable future. Another tidbit from today’s Seattle Times is that Washington state is far down the list of states with adequate ICU beds and spare hospital capacity. Here? Why?

So back to our apartment. Charlie has actually been trying to thin out some of our belongings. Before the quarantine, we had just removed about six bags of unneeded items from our locker. Unfortunately, our living room is full of several tubs of stuff to sort. But now, we can’t go to our locker, or to the Goodwill bins, or anywhere, so it all sits in our living room. Sigh. 

There are certainly useful things we could do instead of sitting here stewing, but, honestly, stewing seems like the right thing to do for now. If the quarantine ends on Monday (a possibility depending on test results of our sick person), we can at least take walks again and return to our minimally productive routine. But for now, stewing, streaming, some reading and writing, perhaps some knitting. 

One thing I’m really grateful for is that the primary election seems to be resolved in a way I can live with. As most of you know, I find Bernie to be as grating as Trump, so Biden just feels like a wonderful feel-good alternative. (Yes, of course, I’d vote for Bernie over Trump.) Biden’s speech to the almost empty room Tuesday night was calming, competent, comforting. My mood lifted. I’m now just waiting for the transition to take place starting in November, hoping Trump has not destroyed the world in the meantime.

This morning, I decided to lighten the mood by making mochas. Alas, the milk was unusable, but I already had the chocolate syrup in the mugs awaiting the espresso. When I gave Charlie the bad news, his creativity sprang into action. He added rum and ice cream. Delightful. Thanks, Charlie. 

Hope you are all well.

2 thoughts on “A Glimpse of Life under Quarantine

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