Life in America during a pandemic

Of course, it’s a total shit show so far. Did anyone expect anything less, between our national indifference and our president who’s proving exactly why he’s unfit to lead?

So let me tell you how it’s unfolded here so far. More than a month ago, before there were any U.S. cases yet, a friend of mine tipped me off that it was coming. I bought some extra bags of beans and rice, a couple bags of flour, and a big tub of oatmeal as emergency food. At that point, I think my husband thought I was crazy or paranoid. To be honest, I thought that maybe the friend who told me in the first place sounded a little paranoid.

Then the first wave of cases appeared in Washington state and suddenly the store shelves were cleaned out of both beans and rice and flour. Another week later, I wanted to get more toilet paper because I felt like we were running low but my husband told me to wait a week.

By that next week, there was no toilet paper to be found anywhere. I got creative and ordered one of the last cases of toilet paper from an office supply company, along with some paper towels and facial tissues. Within an hour, the office supply site was completely sold out of all of the above.

Now, in addition to all paper products being unavailable, now meat and eggs are also sold out everywhere. We don’t eat much meat other than chicken but that’s nowhere to be found. Stores have limits on how much you can purchase but it’s still all cleared out everywhere.

So instead we are preparing to go virtually vegan if necessary, eating a lot of starchy stuff I normally try to limit like potatoes and bread. We’re going to see just how creative we can get. In many ways, this level of scarcity reminds me of the time when I was the poorest. Only now, it’s not lack of money preventing me from getting more but the panicked behavior of others.

The truth is that I get why people are scared. I am, too. The news reported yesterday that they found a case about a mile from where I live. The virus is spreading through the community now, and no longer the risk isn’t only among those who recently traveled. The cases go up every day, exponentially.

Meanwhile, I’m still worried about my husband catching it because he’s on chemo. I’m worried about my parents (who are 65 and 70) and I’m very worried about my 95-year-old grandpa who lives in a senior home.

I’m worried about the fact that this has already sparked a recession. Is my husband going to lose his new job? Are my oldest two kids going to be able to find jobs at all? And that’s just how it affects me immediately. So many small businesses will close. So many people who worked low-wage jobs in retail and service industries, who were already living pretty lean, will be out of work. There’s just more pain all around and that’s hard for me to deal with.

My youngest is a junior in high school and all the schools are closed now. Nobody knows how long this will last. He was supposed to take his SAT the day after they announced the school closure. When will he be able to make it up? A big part of his college depends on that test, especially because he performs well on tests.

Overall this just has my anxiety cranked up to 11. I can’t even reassure myself that everything will be fine because I don’t know if that’s actually true.

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