March 10, 2020

The Coronavirus and Me


It has been an interesting experience to see myself react to the Covid-19 situation. I have never been the type of person who is a doomsday thinker, prepped for the end of civilization, or thought that any particular crisis was going to upend my life.

This flu virus hasn't sent me into a tizzy either. We have a trip to Canada in May and a month-long cruise in the South Pacific in October; I assume we will go on both and everything will be fine. We haven't wrapped the house in saran wrap or taken to wearing masks. We haven't bought gallons of hand sanitizers or extra amounts of toilet paper.

Yet, I am exhibiting a more obvious sense of caution than I have before. Betty and I bowed out of a large family dinner at a restaurant a few days ago. Being in a public space with maybe a hundred members of the general public and wondering how diligent the kitchen and wait staff was in cleanliness made us a bit uneasy. 

Unfortunately, five of the people who were to be part of our dinner had just flown in from Seattle. As I write this Washington State has suffered the most deaths from the flu and has had several new cases reported. The deaths were primarily in a nursing home, but even so, being with people from that area, in a public setting, just put up our red flags. My suggestion that we skip that public meal surprised me, but I went with my feeling. The rest of our family understood but went ahead anyway.

The very next day, those same Seattle folks, along with the rest of my family, did get together at my daughter's home for a day of games, conversation, and two meals. Betty and I went to that gathering with much less trepidation. Not having members of the general public and restaurant employees near us lessened our reluctance. Hand-shaking, hugs, or other touching was still not on the menu, but we were not worried and knew we could make a courteous exit if someone starting coughing or looked unwell. (FYI...everything was fine)

This weekend we have tickets for a concert at the Phoenix Symphony. Once again, our caution told us to not go into a large public space, with 1,500 older adults, for the two hour event. We threw away the $60 worth of tickets and didn't think twice. 

For the next few weeks we are likely to avoid movie theaters or other crowded spaces. The CDC has advised those over 60 or with compromised immune systems to stay home as much as possible. Well, we are both over 60 and Betty has a very poor immune system. We are heeding their suggestion for the time being.

Maybe it is my age that has triggered this extra dose of caution. The government has been caught flat-footed at times and the trust we have in "official" statements from the Oval Office is zilch, Even so, I don't think we would have taken any of the steps we have if both of us were 20 years younger and certainly if Betty's auto-immune issues weren't so bad.

Honestly, I expect the flu situation to get somewhat worse for the next month or so, then begin to taper off and allow us to feel comfortable in large public settings again. I don't expect anyone in my family to become infected; that is just my natural optimistic nature.

Living where we do, with the resources we have, and the ability to take common sense steps makes the situation in China, Italy, and South Korea hard to relate to in terms of the level of sickness and death.  Our complete empathy is felt for those affected by Covid-19 but I believe we will escape any personal problems if we are wise about how we live for the next few months.

What about you? Have you changed anything about how you live your day-to-day life. Are you more conscious of people who cough or sneeze? Are you stocking up on GermX?

Or, are you like my 40 year old daughter who says she always exercises caution when in public spaces. but refuses to become a hermit and stop doing things she enjoys. She figures her odds of becoming sick are too low to worry about. 

Wash your hands, and type your response (then wipe the keyboard again)!

92 comments:

  1. I have found myself washing my hands with more diligence, and using hand sanitizer when out in public. When seeing a friend at the store, we did't hug as we usually do. We both just awkardly acknowledged each other and began chatting.

    I am on the verge of 60, in good health and I will make efforts to be aware of my surroundings but will still go out in large crowds for now. If more cases pop up where we are, I will of course use more caution.

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    1. Things are very fluid at the moment. We will assess our comfort level being in crowds on an ongoing basis. But, hand washing continues to be high on our list.

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  2. We live out in a very rural setting and have decided to not eat out or go where there will be large numbers of people, other than stores to get food supplies as necessary or other necessities. I have stopped going to the gym and am working out at home, which I consider a normal precaution even during a bad flu outbreak. We have put some extra stuff away but I don't believe it will be the End of the World as We Know It, it is a blip that will change how people look at things a bit in the long run, but life will get back to the new normal again at some point this summer. Prudence is a good thing and I would prefer to be ready for disruptions than wailing "oh woe is me" if they do occur and not having any extra toilet paper on hand. Which would be a real pain in the rumpus maximus.

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    1. The toilet paper hoarding, for example, is just odd. I don't really grasp that part of people's behavior.

      The gym is off limits for now. All those people touching all that equipment and coughing or sneezing in a big, open space doesn't need to happen for us at the moment. Walking the dogs keeps us active in the short term.

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  3. As a retired public health nurse, I'm always interested in the public's response to an infectious disease outbreak. People are always at risk, sometimes more than others depending upon the causative germ, the host's resistance, the environment, i.e. confined space & length of exposure. I'm not convinced yet that Covid-19 is any more virulent than the influenza virus. It's certainly getting a lot of airplay and coverage of the Australian bush fires has subsided! Wash your hands and keep them away from your face; such a simple practice. That hasn't changed in my house. I do ask people to wash their hands when they enter my house and it has long been a practice of mine to wash my hands when I enter someone else's home. After 32 yrs in public health, I can confidently claim that common sense is not that common and there's no vaccine for stupidity!

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    1. As Jimmy Buffett famously said, "there's no dumbass vaccine."

      Thanks for your perspective as a nurse. It is fascinating, in a sense, to watch the reaction to this virus. Seasonal flus kill up to 500,000 in a typical year. Coronavirus isn't even close to being that deadly. So why the strong reaction? Lack of a vaccine or any treatment other than isolation may be part of the reason. Maybe it is the quickness of its spread and all the unknowns.

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  4. I find the panic very sad. I find that the need to put in the bit about the President- love him or hate him- disheartening.

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    1. The virus is perfectly under control, the test kits are perfect, a "hunch" about potential death rates instead of depending on scientists, the virus will magically disappear, and it is just a hoax perpetuated by the opposition....I agree, I find what comes from our president disheartening.

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  5. Going to hear Graham Nash tonight. Coronavirus won't stop me.

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    1. Not that many chances to hear him perform. You go for it.

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  6. Since I am now 60 and within the CDC Coronavirus recommendations, I go to church (because I play the piano for them at Sunday service) and go to Court (because that is my job and I have to)…... I still go eat out with one of my sons once very couple of weeks at a local Mexican Restaurant where he lives. Other than that, I pack my lunch as I always have because there are not many restaurants around where I live and work except at gas stations, and I wash my hands, as always. I HAVE stopped shaking hands with other lawyers, Court officials, victims etc so I suppose that is the only change. It has not made it to my state, so all of this may change once someone is diagnosed with it here. I suspect we will all be a lot more cautious then. There are no shortages on supplies here and the stores are full of tp, paper towels, rubbing alcohol, etc.

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    1. If it is like other flu viruses, warmer and dryer weather will slow the spread and eventually halt it. Hopefully, within 12-18 months we will have a preventive shot, just like the ordinary flu shot I get every fall.

      I understand the shortages of certain cleaning supplies, but paper towels and toilet paper?

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  7. Having just disembarked from a five week cruise, I can tell you that the only thing we were worried about, as were many our fellow passengers, was the risk of being quarantined on the ship. That two week quarantine is the one big thing that makes this different from other flu virus seasons in our minds.

    Now back at home, we are living our lives as normal, though we have tried to stop touching friends (i.e., hugs and/or handshakes), instead giving the coronavirus high five of touching elbows. 😆

    We have many, many social engagements coming up, and expect to attend them all. If we get the coronavirus, being quarantined at home is not that big of a deal to us as compared to being quarantined away from home.

    We are supposed to go to Spain this summer, and are currently taking a wait-and-see attitude. We are not worried about contracting the virus so much as we are worried about Spain shutting itself down similar to Italy. The uncertainty would deem it prudent to simply wait until things settle back down, so we may go RV'ing in the USA instead. If we get sick, we're in a much better position to get back home.

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    1. I read about your return on FB, so I knew you and Mike were home safely. I can't even imagine a 14 day quarantine on a ship, especially if one must stay in his room and can't use a balancy if so equipped. That would be like solitary confinement in a prison, except even those people get out to exercise once a day.

      The thought of being trapped in a foreign country is something I hadn't thought of. Europe is getting the full force of the spread and uncertainty at the moment. But, you have a nice alternative if it is wise to skip that trip.

      We are going to the South Pacific and New Zealand in October. That gives us plenty of time to see how things develop and what would be our wisest choice. The trip to Canada in May is a little more on our mind at the moment.

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    2. Returning to say, wow, what a difference a week makes. You can pretty much erase everything I so optimistically (ignorantly?) expressed in my above reply. This is real, and we are complying as we are asked to. We are going out to work in a food pantry today, however, in recognition of those much worse off than ourselves. It simp!y feels like the morally correct thing to do.

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    3. One week can make quite a difference. We have stocked up on some stuff. Concerts, meetings, and gatherings we were scheduled to attend have been cancelled. So, we stay home, work on projects here, work in the garden, and look at this as an enforced break for the norm, all while hoping that our family and friends stay virus-free.

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  8. We were to fly to Vancouver (a long flight from Florida) and board a cruise ship to Alaska in late May - neither of which are virus friendly activities. Both are now cancelled. I took a bottle of Purell to my Mahjong game yesterday and asked everyone to use it before we set up our games. The gals on my tennis team love to hug and high five, but we have given that up for a while. Other than that, life is pretty much the same. No hoarding toilet paper or stock piling canned foods, just ordinary precautions that I hope will serve us well through the season.

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    1. Too bad about your trip in May. The cruise up the Inside passage is well worth doing, but not if there is much of a risk of what has befallen several other ships.

      We are going to Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City in early May. So far, Canada has not had many cases reported. But, the trip does involve longish plane flights and lots of public spaces. We'll see.

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  9. We are off to Japan next week. We have a family commitment we can't easily cancel. We are going to an area with a fairly low infection rate and don't have to be in public once we get there. We have to overnight in San Francisco which bothers me more. We have masks, hand sanitizer and wipes and will use them diligently. We are both older (70 & 72)but in good health so not overly worried. Refuse to live life in a bubble. We live in the metro Indy area with cases so probably not much safer here vs there.

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    1. We have friends in Tokyo who have been there for the last few months. So far, they report no problems, even in a society that is so crowded.

      Best of luck - it sounds like you are prepared.

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  10. I have always been a bit of a germaphobic so I'm not taking any precautions in public that haven't been doing all along like wiping down ever surface of shopping carts that I'm likely to touch, using a wipe the minute I get in the car from any public place including wiping down the car handle and of course washing my hands a million times a day.

    I was supposed to go to a fish fry on Friday that I'm opting out of for two reasons. 1) the lady I was supposed to meet there just got back from Texas (on a plane) and 2) a good 200 people will walk past the piles of fish they serve with no sneeze guard. We haven't had any cases pop up in Michigan yet but is that only because they aren't testing broadly yet? Who knows.

    I'm not overly concerned about getting the virus BUT the scariest part is the lack of preparedness that is obviously coming out of the White House.

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    1. This is a serious situation, but can you imagine what the lack of preparation if a major natural disaster hit would mean for the country? Obviously, no one can prepare for everything. But, a sense of calm, trustworthy leadership goes a long way toward cutting down on overreaction.

      200 people possibly sneezing into my fish. I don't care if there was no virus...that would not be where i went to dinner!

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    2. Fish fries at local churches and places like Moose and Veterans clubs are really common around here, especially during Lent.

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  11. Not a lot of panic but glad to see people reacting appropriately. Staying away from events and things being cancelled/postponed to deter wide spread people movement. We are in a situation where over caution is probably the better move

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    1. Until scientists and medical people get a solid handle on how to deal with and control this flu, an excess of caution is nothing to be sneezed at (sorry, I couldn't resist).

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  12. If you are concerned about a restaurant or public meal, I can't imagine why you wouldn't worry about a cruise.

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    1. It is 6 months away. We will not go if the situation is anything like it is now.

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  13. Very conflicted about an upcoming Mexico trip. While no outbreak there NOW, the italy situation shows how fast things can escalate. I wasn't TOO worried about how my body would handle it if I got sick, but after reading the report of a physician who is on the front lines in Italy I am a bit more worried.If your lungs are affected and you need a ventilator you better be near a hospital that can provide one!!! Last week we still felt secure in our plans.. but now I am worried we could get locked down out of the country.. we also have lots of other short trips coming up in April May and summer. .just have to play all this by ear. Here at home, like you and Betty,we're going out much less, we don't eat out in restaurants often anyway..and I'm content with a quieter pace for now..

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    1. Those trips are something to give extra thought to. So far, Mexico has had very few problems, but, as you say, things can get out of hand rather quickly. Heavens, who would have thought all of Italy would be in lockdown just a week ago?

      What we are doing is trying to get straight facts, no-spin news from whatever source is most trustworthy. We will make our decisions when we have to either go or pull the trigger.

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  14. I have cut down drastically but not completely. I'm at church for now but not drinking from the chalice. I'm going to weekly knitting in a small group public setting. For now I'm attending my happy hours for the next three weeks in the group I manage but I may leave those early once everyone is there and I drink and dont eat. I gave sanitizers and wipes in my purse. Iwever I also live with two people still in the working world. Unlike others I dont see this as panic I see it as responsible behavior and preparation. Social distancing in some cases has shown to lower peak spreads. As for the president it has nothing about hate and much about responsibility. He objected to the CDC warning older adults, and has a"hunch" they dont know what they are talking about and has made multiple obviously misinformed statements. Never mind he seems more worried about the economy than my health. I have generally enough food and supplies that were I do self isolate I would be mainly okay for three weeks although I would be craving milk by the end. If it never happens then I will have saved myself from shopping for a month or so. If and when the state or local schools shit down I will stay fully home during that time.

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    1. As a political independent, I concur with your opinion about Bob interjecting the Trump dynamic. This isn't the only occasion where the president should generally defer to the health experts and keep his mouth shut. But I'm afraid it's just who he is.

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    2. The concept of social distancing is a solid course of action.That means maintaining at least 3 feet between you and others but not holing up in isolation.

      We are slowly adding to our pantry. I don't see food shortages coming from this but there is no harm in having enough food for a week or so. There are more things that can do off-kilter than just this virus.

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    3. Bob as italy shows the food shortage comes from illnesses in the supply line and the fact that much of it comes from other coutries. the trucking and train industries are among the first who generally fl in a circumstance like this. But I dont do it because of food shortges, i do it because I could be required to self isolate for three weeks and I will not rely on the health of delivery people and or put them at riskby opening a door to sign something if that happens.

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  15. I am a bit of a germphobe/clean freak/call it what you will. We have generally have supplies of Purell, Clorox wipes, Lysol, etc., on hand, so this wasn't a panic for us. We buy our TP at Costco and have a ready supply at all times unless it's time to restock, although I still can't figure out the TP hoarding. I mean, GI issues aren't symptoms of this virus.

    We have no confirmed cases in our state, and we have eaten out a couple times in the past few weeks, but at places we frequent and know. So far, I'm not too freaked out on that front. But I'm sure if we start to have cases nearby, I will be more concerned. As it is, I am the person who washes her hands after every outing, opens the restroom door with a paper towel, and pushes open public doors with my elbow. I traveled extensively for my work before retiring and was forever picking up bugs, so I'm pretty paranoid on the public germ front anyway.

    Our kids are in Canada and England and a major US city, so I do worry about them, but I'm sure they're all taking the normal precautions. One teaches at a university, and they've been told to ready themselves for online classes if necessary. So many other universities have gone that route, I expect their school will eventually.

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    1. People staying home from work or kids being told not to come to school (forcing a parent to be home, too) concern me more than running out of toilet paper or Trisketts. As I noted in an earlier comment, the death toll from Covid-19 is around 3,000 as of toady. With seasonal flus killing hundreds of thousands each year, to overreact is not helpful.

      Your healthy habits make sense whatever conditions are in the world. It always amazes me to see someone wash their hands thoroughly after using the restroom in a movie theater, and then opening the door with bare hands. Not everyone has proper hygiene.

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  16. My wife and I have reduced our social contacts. If this virus follows the patterns of previous flu outbreaks, corona virus is not a flu, we will see a pullback this summer and then an explosion this fall and winter. There will not be any chance of an available vaccine until probably summer of 21. The reason to consider pulling back is to spread out the number of cases at any given point in time. If we all ignore the potential and a large spike of patients occur this winter the healthcare system will not be able to handle it. Triage will then become the most used word in news feeds. We will not be harmed by limiting social contacts. If we are wrong no loss.

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    1. I have not read anything that discusses a cycle to this disease, like the seasonal ebbs and flows of a normal flu. I don't think we know enough to have a solid idea. But, if you are correct, then we will have a major problem, since real protection is at least a year away.

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    2. The seasonality is my hope, not a fact. Just saw info that states an antimalarial drug is being used in Korea and China. Chloroquine. Fairly common. Obviously no clinical trials.

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  17. Bob, so far I have not made any major changes in how I live my life or interact with other people, but I admit that the continuous news coverage on the subject has caused me to make some adjustments. While I have never been a fan of large public gatherings like music concerts and sporting events, those activities are now totally off the menu for me (I’m an introvert, so no big deal for me). When I go shopping I do a thorough job of wiping down the cart as I enter the store. I still go to the gym 4-5 times a week, but I am mostly limiting my activities to stationary biking classes and time on a treadmill because I can use disinfecting wipes or sprays to clean the equipment. I have temporarily stopped using the weight machines. I do wash my hands much more often now and I take advantage of hand sanitizer whenever I am in a building that has it. We still go out to eat once or twice a week. Though when I met some former co-workers last Friday for lunch, we greeted each other with head nods and elbow bumps, not handshakes or hugs. We have plans to go out to a museum exhibit in a neighboring city next week with some friends and we will be eating out on that trip too.

    Like you, I have travel scheduled, a land tour and river cruise through France in April and a Canada-New England cruise in September. At the moment, I still plan to do both. But given the uncertainty of starting international travel while the number of cases of the virus is still growing, when my river cruise company recently offered a “Cancel for any Reason” travel waiver because of the Covid-19 travel concerns, I did purchase it. This gives me the option of pulling the plug on the trip without penalty up until 2 days before the start of travel (Note: I don’t get my money back, but I do get a cruise credit for that amount to be used on a future cruise). While I am in the prime demographic to experience severe health effects from the Covid-19 virus, my biggest cruise travel concern is the possibility of ending up in a quarantine situation in a foreign country.

    I have not felt the need to stock up on large amounts of toilet paper, dried beans, face masks or hand sanitizers. I confess that I did buy an extra case of wine when I last went to the liquor store. That might have been due to the sale price or it might have been that I didn’t want to face the zombie apocalypse sober.

    So, for now, I would say that I have a heightened sense of awareness about viral contagion (Covid-19, seasonal cold/flu, norovirus) but it hasn’t caused any significant changes in my lifestyle….that is subject to change at any time.

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    1. I will be interested to see if the economic downturn that seems to have been, in part, caused by Covid-19 fears, will start to take over the news cycles. An oil price war, miserable rates of investment returns, the effect of the trade tariffs, and a possible recession might just knock all the coverage off the front page. Maybe a little break in the constant virus drumbeat would be helpful. We do tend to focus on what is the lead story.

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  18. I am in the elderly, but healthy, group and am taking precuations. I have cut out church, the gym large gatherings etc. but I had mostly done that anyway due to flu season. I am surprised at how much I touch my face. Probably due to my itchy eyes. But I am working on that. I have confidence in the administration's handling of this. I think they have put together a good team and with briefings and websites we are getting good information. There will be glitches. That is normal. It is difficult to strike a balance between causing panic and promoting preventive measures. Is he considering the economy as well as our health? I hope so. Although our health is most important we don't want to bring down the economy unnecessarily. The key word is "unnecessarily". This must be very difficult. As an Independent I am not often in the Trump camp. But I wish we could stick together on this. It is not helpful if we destroy his credibility on this. If anyone feels that he can't support him on this because of things that the medias tells us that he has said, check it out. Often his words are twisted to mean something entirely different. Or they are just meaningless words that don't affect anything.

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    1. I agree with you that we are better served if we are pulling together at a time like this. I disagree that his words are often twisted; he does that all on his own. But, it appears the administration realizes this is worth a concerted effort to address the problems, and that is something we can all support.

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  19. My husband and I are in our 60's - taking smart precautions but not freaking out. We are both rather calm people - but have friends and family who are not and they think we are public enemy number 1.
    We are fortunate to live in a rural county in Northern California, about 200 miles north of San Francisco. Our county has 1 confirmed case and the public health reported they have plenty of testing kits. 2 weeks ago, we did have a scare with my 93 yr old FIL - rushed to ER with high fever, wheezing, coughing and low blood pressure. He was positive on the flu test they gave him. Spent 4 days in the hospital. He lives at the Veteran Home was put on quarantine. Just today, he is off and sitting in the recreation room playing poker! Life goes on.

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    1. Glad your Father-in-Law is OK. That must have been scary for him and you. 93 is not an age where we often bounce back.

      Taking precautions but not freaking out...that sounds about right.

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  20. I am your daughter-ever conscious and not avoiding anything I would normally do. That said, I am home alot since retiring last summer (and loving it!).

    Live smart!

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    1. She travels internationally a lot for work, so she is already vigilant. We still worry about her, though. She would be far from home if a serious situation developed.

      Welcome to the wonderful world of retirement!

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  21. My husband and I have limited - but not eliminated - our public contact. We've also done some preparation just in case we need to stay home for a while. But, because we are living on an earthquake fault that has been in the news lately for its potential, we felt that it was prudent to do anyway. The chances are better (worse?) that we will be impacted by an earthquake rather than the virus. Either way, we can take care of ourselves for a few weeks.

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    1. Living on an earthquake fault that has had some attention recently would certainly grab my attention before the flu virus. But, as a benefit you are already prepared to hunker down for awhile.

      We have tickets to the opening weekend of the Diamondbacks baseball season at the end of the month. As of now we are going. Check back with me in 2 weeks.

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  22. TODAY, Reading reports from people and also health care workers in Italy, and also the current JOE ROGAN interview with Michael Osterholm, were game changers for us. We are cancelling all our current travel plans through May.We’re deciding to practiced social distancing.Ken is not going to the gym.I am going to order groceries for delivery (we are full stocked though for a few weeks!).. Listen to the interview..many facts about transmission, the fact that this is NOT seasonal.. warm weather will not change things, and a lot more. The next couple of weeks in USA will be very telling..we need to remain calm, but also practice smart behaviors to stay safe,esp. if we are older or have underlying health issues. I won’t be going to the Hale Theater next week. ANd we’re just gonna nest here at home for a bit.Sounds extreme.. but the next couple of weeks will be nunlike what any of us in the U.S. have been through,I think.So many colleges closing up.. going online.. Praying for the best but doing the most prudent things we can for now.

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    1. Thanks for the update on what is known about transmission at this time. Not being a seasonal flu would be a bit of a gamechanger on how this will affect us.

      Betty and I have had tickets for an April performance of Brigadoon at the Hale Theater for 4 months. I really want to see that, but time will tell.

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    2. I have read that 26 to 27 degree C will kill the virus. That is just a bit under 80 degrees F. If that is true, then it would seem that warm weather would have an impact on it.
      Some have stated that it should slow once summer comes. Guess we will have to wait and see which group is correct.

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  23. I am 73 and have diabetes. I had a dr appt today, one is scheduled for tomorrow and another for Monday. The one today and the Monday appointment are for specialists, so I think the risk of contacting anything is less than the one for tomorrow. I wiped down things today at the dr office, including the wheelchair they brought me in with. I went to a church luncheon for seniors today. It made me nervous. I will sit in the middle of the pew at church and not on the end near the aisle where I usually do and people congregate. I have plenty of groceries and only will run out of bananas and milk. I can order delivery. any kind of deprivation is worth not getting ill. I catch enough things as it is. With spring and allergies already here, I touch my nose and eyes entirely too much. I have blue nitrile gloves and wips, very few, but I have enough for now. I am prudent, not panicky.

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    1. You do sound both well prepared and aware of your surroundings. Of course, we all know the quickest way to get sick is to go to a doctor's office or a hospital !

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  24. Like you Bob we threw away our concert tickets for last week, and we cancelled our planned trip to Italy in Sept. Being in the danger zone north of 60 changes one perspective and I don't think our health care system will be able to cope.

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    1. Yes, being of an age that is most at risk during this outbreak does tend to focus one's attention.

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  25. My wife and are both 66 and in good health generally. We are not terribly worried (actually we are wintering in Mexico at the moment) though we have a concert to attend on May 1st back in Canada and trip to NYC (a hotspot for Covid-19 right now) for a concert in July. Add to that a trip in October to rural France to visit my wife's sister followed by a hiking trip in Italy. All of those are a at least a few months into the future and things can change for the worse OR for the better. If any of those are in "lockdown" at the time then the concerts will have been canceled and we would obviously not be proceeding with our travel plans to a locked down country in October. Italy is in lockdown now but it's still 6 months before our travel dates so we'll have to see how things change over time.

    We lived in Toronto all through SARS in 2002-03 (50 people died in Canada from SARS) and basically we went on with our normal lives with a little extra caution. We plan on doing the same now unless, as I said above, things change dramatically. Watchful waiting I guess.

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    1. Our trip to Canada is in May which is still far enough away to make no changes yet. The trip to Hawaii, the South Pacific on a cruise ship, and then a week in New Zealand in 6 months away. That isn't even on our radar yet.

      Watchful waiting is our approach, too.

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  26. I'm sort of like your daughter. Going about my regular routine but washing my hands a LOT! Since I live a pretty close to home life anyway, I'm not giving up public events that I don't attend anyway, but like you, if I did go out more, I would not go to big public gatherings. Hard to know what is reasonable precaution and what is overreaction. Just taking it a day at a time.

    Read your last post on snowplow parents. I had not heard that term before, but I have followed the news stories about the "Varsity Blues" scandal with great interest. Perhaps all my years on the admissions committee of the law school brought that close to home. I just can't imagine doing something like that -- for so MANY reasons. So I'm fascinated by this lack of judgment and moral integrity on the part of these parents. Boggles my mind.

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    1. The snowplow parents actually assumed they could get away with cheating and lying for their kids and somehow, no one would notice. Amazing, and somewhat depressing.

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  27. We just returned from Key West and remained aware of all this but, still had a great trip and visit with friends. The flight home seemed a bit cramped but, there were no coughs or sneezes. Keeping clean hands is a priority but, we're not all that worried. It would be a shame if the prez were to get it.
    Stay healthy!! b

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    1. I noticed that the head of the Health Service in Great Britain has tested positive. No one is exempt.

      Key West is one of my favorite places in the country. I envy you and Dave being at the "literal" end of the road.

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  28. The WHO classified coronavirus as a pandemic today. That simply means the disease is worldwide and spreading without regard to borders or areas.

    That label will probably increase the concern level of many, but remember, it doesn't mean the virus is suddenly more dangerous...just that it being found everywhere.

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  29. We have cancelled two trips (and ate the price of the tickets for one since they were a "special" and didn't have any options with them).
    We have stocked up some (yup, got some TP too) and are not going out much. No real reason to, so why do it.
    I do have a shopping trip with a friend tomorrow (and the area we are in has not had any cases at this point), and we have hand sanitizer in all the cars (which we have always had, just refilled them now to make sure they are not low). Have one thing planned in April, and other than that no plans until July. We will see by then.
    We do have a fall cruise planned, but don't have to pay until June, and may not go depending on how things are going at that point.
    If I had to go out for work or other reasons that would be different, but I don't. We tend to buy in bulk (we are rural and don't want to run to the store all the time), so we could be fine for a number of months, if we really needed to.

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    1. We went food shopping this morning and all the toilet paper was gone. The store said they had two large pallets delivered this morning and it was snapped up in one hour. Panic is never rational.

      We just found out our Canada trip is a no-go for early May. I will probably lose $1,000 unless airlines change their refund/cancellation policies. I will wait until mid-April to cancel, hoping the waivers are available at that point.

      Like you we will have a reach a decision on our fall cruise by early June when the bulk of the payment is due.

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  30. I think there is something many people continue to overlook. The flu vaccine is typically developed based on the flu strain of the past year and maybe a few others prior. Almost every year, the current year's flu strain is a mutation from prior flu outbreaks. So, how effective from a truly medical perspective is the current year's flu vaccine against the current year's flu strain? I honestly do not know the medical answer to this question but I do know that no matter what the medical effectiveness is of the vaccine, it does provide an emotional boost to keep people from overreacting as much. Wonder what would happen if we were to offer up a placebo vaccine for Corona Virus and publicize that it may be effective in preventing the spread with no evidence it actually medically has any bearing? I bet the markets would rebound immediately and people would quickly revert back to normal activities even though the virus itself may still be spreading some. Just a thought to ponder about human behavior.

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    1. You are probably very right. Of course, when someone found out (because they always do) there would be a revolt in the streets! Funny how our minds and emotions work sometimes.

      I get the flu shot (special old person version) every fall and haven't had a flu in forever. Did the shot do that? I don't know but I am sticking with it.

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  31. Bob, Thanks for sharing your perspective. My question to everyone is why are you treating this virus any differently than you would treat the yearly intestinal virus (which can and does kill), the annual flu, Hep A,B,C, etc? All the common things the CDC and WHO are asking people to do in order to minimize the spread of the virus and helping each person to minimize their chances for catching it are the same regardless of the type of virus out there. Wash your hands regularly, limit exposure to people who show symptoms, stay at home and recover if you do have symptoms, etc etc etc. What I continue to observe is that as the virus spreads and more and more people are now getting tested for it who in the past would have never even gone to the doctor to be tested for stomach virus, the flu, or a cold, then the total number of reported cases is going up and the death rate percentage is starting to drop. I wonder how long this corona virus has really been circulating in the world and just has been dismissed as a version of the flu or a bad cold? Are we just testing more and more people now for something we never tested for in the the past due to the panic being induced by a label given to something that may have been circulating in the general population for a while? I have seen articles that state the virus is 10X more contagious than the flu yet in the same article it was stated that the mortality rate is likely around 1% and dropping as more people are actually being tested and more and more are fully recovering. The media focused only on the 10% infectious rate and conveniently omitted the drop in mortality rate estimates from 3% to 1% and dropping. Umm? What does that tell me as a critic of the media's thirst for ratings and "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality? And of course we cannot overlook how the politicians are trying to spin whatever response coming from either party as not being enough effort to address the spread of this virus. Just wait, this virus will soon be labeled the Trump virus. Sad Sad Sad.

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    1. We just don't know enough about this type of virus, I guess, is the reason it is being treated differently. I may be wrong, but it seems to be spreading more rapidly through wider geographic areas than the normal seasonal flu outbreaks. The lack of knowledge is the biggest driver of the situation at the moment.

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  32. Bob, and to add more :),
    My wife and I just got home from a last minutes, unplanned road trip where we went to Big Bend National Park, Phoenix to see the Texas Rangers play in training camp, and White Sands national monument. What we observed during our trip was that everyone we encountered was behaving as they normally would behave while out and about. Restaurants were full, people by the thousands were attending sporting events, many many many elderly people out on the road visiting the national parks, etc etc etc. My wife and I continue to practice the same cleaning and personal hygiene practices which we have consistently followed for years (wash hands with soap and water frequently, politely go wash hands after shaking hands with someone we don't know, etc etc etc. The only travel we are postponing right now is cruise ship travel not because of concern of getting sick but because of the chance of having a wonderful vacation ruined by being quarantined in a ship cabin for 14 days. I did observe the empty shelves while in Phoenix of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Reminds me of the hoarding of bread and milk in the South if an ice storm or snow storm is forecast. Pure panic for something that many times does not occur and when it does, the stores are still open and it is not impossible to make it to them to buy what you need.

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    1. I mentioned to my wife this morning that it reminded me of what happens when a hurricane is approaching. The store shelves are stripped and people prepare for a few days of a loss of travel and basic services. That makes good, common sense.

      This time, there seems to be a feeling that not days, but months of this type of craziness may be ahead. The economy will certainly fall into a recession of some sort of that happens. Again, I scratch my head at the toilet paper thing. This is a respiratory illness. The GI tract is not involved!

      Thanks for leaving some tourist dollars in Phoenix. Gotta love spring training time of year.

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    2. Plenty of scientific explanations out there, from those preeminent in the field, for why coronavirus should not be compared to typical seasonal flu viruses, including vulnerability for the aged, and/or those with certain underlying conditions. That said, there will certainly be lessons learned here.

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    3. After all this is over, I sincerely hope lessons about preparation and getting ahead of a problem early are learned.

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    4. I simply ask people who are concerned to contact their primary care physician for any/all precautions and steps one should be taking. I would hope that each person has developed some sort of report with a primary care physician, and I would hope that the doc would know your situation and medical history and would be the most qualified person to counsel you. I would avoid trusting anything coming from the media, social media, and any of our politicians regardless of political affiliation. Partial truths, exaggerated data, and the blame game are all common tools being employed to either push some sort of underlying agenda or garner more viewers for increased revenue opportunities. I wish everyone good will and pray no one you reading this post get ill with any illness.

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  33. Oh, and the only rationale I can think of which would explain stocking up on TP would be an extended self-quarantine (not that this applies to all of the purchasers).

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    1. You may be right, but a 2 month quarantine? There's a lot of TP flying out the door.

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  34. Bob, I'm also an optimist by nature and don't consider myself to be at high risk. At the same time, though, I understand that this is a new virus that none of us have any immunity to and that viruses can mutate very quickly (sometimes into a milder form, but sometimes in a more deadly form). For years, I taught college students about the 1918 Influenza pandemic. It had an interesting trajectory, because it first appeared in the US in a relatively mild form in the spring, then disappeared during the summer, and reappeared in a much deadlier form in the fall. Cities that took it seriously and banned public gatherings had lower death rates than those with leaders that scoffed at that kind of precaution. (I recommend watching the American Experience documentary on the 1918 pandemic; it first aired in 1998 but has been shown again recently on PBS.) The WHO declaration of an official pandemic definitely got everyone's attention here. Even before the first case in Maine was diagnosed (today), colleges and universities had announced that they would no longer have in-person classes when spring break ends, nursing homes closed their facilities to visitors, the performance of Beethoven's 9th symphony that I was supposed to sing in later this month was canceled, and so were the spring classes at my local Senior College. Today, I had lunch as planned at the home of a friend; but the hostess of our little gathering had carefully laid out the place settings so that we were all more than droplet-distance away from one another. It's useful to remember that people (that includes us) may be most dangerous after they have been infected but before they begin to experience any symptoms.

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    1. Thanks, Jean, for a solid review of your local situation along with some important information. We tend to forget there is a lengthy incubation period for this virus, so having it and being aware of it are two different things.

      I read that restaurants in New York and Seattle are removing half their tables so people are 6 feet away from each other. As long as the kitchen and wait staff are healthy that would help.

      The Phoenix Symphony finally cancelled performances that were scheduled for the rest of the month. And, all spring training games, plus the Hockey and basketball teams are shut down through the end of the season.

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  35. I live in NYC. Stores and restaurants are empty. Major institutions have closed - Carnegie Hall, The Frick, The Met, Lincoln Center, Broadway Shows etc. Most colleges have also closed. The supermarket is the only place that's crowded. There is lots of food but hard to find disinfectant and for some unknown reason toilet paper and napkins. I am staying pretty close to home. I still go to the botanical gardens because that is usually empty. We have all stopped hugging and shaking hands. I was sick for 2 weeks in January and think I may have had the coranavirus. I was too weak to go to the doctor but had fever, sore throat and terrible cough. I could barely make it to the bathroom. I am thinking that people may have gone to doctors for months with this virus but noone knew what it was. There may be a lot of people who have had this who were never diagnosed. We just don't know enough about this. So we all have to be careful. Washing my hands is now my hobby. Avoid crowds. I think a lot of people will lose their jobs due to lack of business. So if we can help our neighbors let's do it. We really are in this together and we can't depend on the government.

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    1. This is a time when we can all pull together by doing what is best for ourselves and those around us. Not panic-buying would help; our local Walmart Supercenter has been completely stripped of toilet paper for almost a week. Have many rolls does one family need?

      Your experience in January may be more typical than we know. Two months ago this virus was barely talked about except for its impact on China. A doctor probably would have had no idea what to test for and would likely have just treated you for a normal flu.

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    2. One of my friends had the same symptoms and she had no contact with me. It looks like most people will recover from this if they have no serious health problems. Whatever I had, it was extremely debilitating - not like any flu I've had in the past.

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    3. So glad you fully recovered!

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  36. This comment is actually from Laura at theoccasionalnomads.com. For some Google-inspired reason it can't be added with her name (even when I do it!). So:

    LAURA says -

    I know it can seem strange or odd for toilet paper to be disappearing from stores, but stop for a moment and think about what you would do if you ran out of TP at your home and couldn’t get more for a variety of reasons. Seriously.

    Now imagine there might come a time you think you might not be able to get to a store because you’re elderly or your health compromised and have been warned to not go out, or you don’t want to go to a store because the people who are working there might be sick, or there’s a threat of you losing your job because of downturns or closures related to the virus and money might be tight to non-existent for you in the very near future.

    Toilet paper is one of those things no one thinks about until it runs out and they can’t get more. After Hurricane Iniki destroyed Kaua’i back in 1992 and the supply chain was disrupted, TP became one of the most precious commodities on the island, and it is still something people there will overstock when there is a threat of a hurricane. The same is happening all over now, and once it starts disappearing quickly people get nervous and the effect starts snowballing. We’ve been watching it in real time here in Japan but we understand why. TP is a forgotten commodity and even the thought of it not being available (true or not) can make people very nervous.

    As the impact of this virus swells, a whole lot of things may become unavailable for a while. For most people though, toilet paper is almost as basic a necessity as it gets. It’s so basic we never think of it until it starts disappearing or it’s gone.

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    1. Odd..that is the first time I couldn't use your name and post your comment from my end. I will blame it on the National Emergency that Trump just declared.

      Thanks for the insight on TP hoarding. The experience after Hurricane Iniki certainly proves your point. Kleenex is an option, but I guess that is probably in short supply, too. Even Amazon, which always has everything, has no TP for sale.

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  37. As an update to my previous comment... We are heading back home 2 weeks earlier than planned from our 3 month stay in Mexico as Canada Foreign Affairs has advised all travelling Canadians to return as soon as they can. It may be over cautious or it may not be but it seems sensible to us to follow the advice. Things to appear to be changing rapidly.

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    1. Safe travels...yes the situation is evolving hourly.

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  38. Reading this post and comments ten days after you wrote it, Bob, all I can say is it’s amazing how fast things change. On March 10, my feelings were much the same as yours — take a few extra precautions and wait and see. I was still going to the store, to meetings, to the ski hill, and visiting my daughter’s family. When groups that I was part of began cancelling meetings and events ten days ago, I wondered if they were responding in an overly panicky way.

    However, having immersed myself in the news, and following the recommendations of our federal and provincial health authorities, I now know that the spread of novel Coronavirus is very serious indeed. Rob and I have been fully self-isolating for four days now. We haven’t gone out where there are other people for any reason.

    Written text provides a very useful record of our changing perspectives and understandings. We can look back at blog posts, comments, and journal entries, and see how our personal and community level beliefs and behaviours evolve in the face of a crisis like the one we are presenting engaged in.

    Jude

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    1. 10 days seems like a month ago. Everything that we take for granted has been upended to one degree or another. The fragility of our lifestyle has been exposed by something as simple as toilet paper shortages.

      At the same time, I am encouraged at the response of many people. The increase in compassion and empathy is heartwarmimg to see.

      We will come out of this a changed people and society, at least to a degree.

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  39. My husband and I are over 65, with some health issues, and we are staying at home except for short forays to buy food and medicine. I hate being sick, wouldn't choose not being able to breathe as my favorite way to exit the planet, and I don't want to make anyone else sick. I believe this virus is a serious risk to all of us and to our health system if we don't take necessary precautions.

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    1. It has been serious for quite some time, but that message has finally hit home. In all my 70 years, I have never experienced such a rapid and dramatic change in our lifestyle. It is forcing many of us to reevaluate what is important and what we are made of.

      After things are more under control I will very interested to see what permanent changes this experience causes in society and how we approach life.

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