Adapting to a pandemic: 2020

Two entrances for customers at the grocery store.  Enter through one.  Exit through the other.  Only.  “Stand here” stickers on the floor at the checkout every six feet.  Social distancing.  Face masks mandatory if you want to enter this building or that building.  One-way arrows for the store aisles that most people ignore.  How safe is it?  Empty store shelves.  Hand sanitizer.  Toilet paper shortage.  Paper goods shortage.  Wet wipes shortage.  Disinfectant shortage.  N95 mask sanitization and re-use.  No handshakes.  No hugs.  No fist bumps.  No elbow bumps.  No contact with the outside world.  Quarantine.  Social isolation.  Can I breathe outdoors?  Lucky you can breathe.  Singing is especially bad.  Airline flights cancelled.  Fleets grounded.  Immigration ban.  Fourteen-day quarantine at the border.  Essential personnel.  Essential businesses.  Non-essential business closures.  National recommendations.  Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations.  President without a mask.  Solidarity.  Media fear-mongering.  Look, don’t touch.  No, don’t even look.  No visitors.  Nursing home outbreaks.  Piles of bodies found.  Makeshift morgues made from refrigerated semi trailers.  No produce.  Meat packing plants shut down.  Stay-At-Home and Shelter-In-Place Directives.  Governor’s office.  Press conferences.  It’s getting better.  Flattening the curve.  Dodging bullets (figuratively).  Illness.  Symptoms.  Dry cough.  Fever.  Difficulty breathing.  Temperature checks.  Economic shutdown.  Economic reopening in phases.  Non-essential workers.  Millions unemployed.  Find an essential job.  Economic stimulus checks for every person, dependent on income status.  Tax filing date extended three months.  No gatherings.  Stay at home but get outside.  Mixed messages.  Mass panic.  News studio ratings based on sensationalizing minor details.  COVID-19.  SARS-CoV-2.  Cancelled events.  Postponed sports seasons.  Work from home.  University closures.  Public school closures.  Online and distance learning effective immediately.  Provisions for technology.  Race for a vaccine.  Hasty decisions.  Risky medications.  Yes, that shortens the illness.  No, that kills people.  Back to the drawing board.  Nasopharyngeal swabs.  Testing.  Antibody testing.  Forty percent sensitive.  High rates of false results.  My own illness.  Was it COVID-19?  Not in my records.  Sick as a dog.  No, don’t put me in the hospital.  Ventilator shortage?  New York City epicenter.  Seattle epicenter.  Have you travelled?  Have you been in contact with anyone who is ill?  Questions.  No answers.  Telemedicine only.  Celebrating healthcare workers, our new superheroes.  Weren’t they always?  Clapping.  Cheering.  Singing from balconies.  New syndrome among kids related to COVID-19 illness.  Homemade hand sanitizer.  Do-It-Yourself (DIY) face masks out of old t-shirts.  The Buff facemask with coffee filters.  Game shows with no audiences.  CO-VID, CO-VID, CO-VID drumbeat goes on and on and on.  Election year.  Debates with no supporters or protesters present.  “You did this too late, but we wouldn’t let you do it sooner!”  Complaints.  Angst.  Frustration.  All-mail primaries.  Possible second wave.  Loneliness.  Suicide.  Depression.  Anxiety.  Stress.  Cortisol.  Oxytocin.  2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo postponed.  Worldwide fasts.  No church.  Gatherings of 10 or fewer.  Six feet between you and the next person in any direction.  Six feet under?  Self-isolation.  Never going to be the same.  Forgotten lives.  Hope.  Let’s make new ones…

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