Editor’s Note: I started jotting down happenings surrounding the Coronavirus/Covid-19 when the situation started to become more of a reality here in the U.S. (at least in my world) and things were developing quickly. Days started to blur together because of the daily changes and daily updates, so I started writing things down just so I could keep track. I’m publishing this after one month of writing mainly as a way to memorialize this time so that I don’t lose it somewhere (I don’t typically journal since I have this blog as my own personal online journal of sorts. So I wasn’t sure what to do with actual pen to paper writings, this seemed like a more practical place to start writing.) This journal is just that, a stream of conscious type writing that simply reflects my experience and items that popped out to me during this time. It’s a journal, so it’s mostly specific to what I’ve experienced. The fact that I have a job that I’m able to work from home, a house to shelter in place, a husband to shelter with, and funds to purchase groceries is not lost on me. Please keep that in mind if you choose to read. And know that along with the words written here, there are daily rollercoasters of different emotions behind the screen. Sending you all the positive vibes. Stay well friends!
Wednesday, March 11th // While I have seen chatter about the Coronavirus on the news, it hasn’t really taken hold here in the US (or at least in my world) until today. Michael and I spent the prior weekend in New Orleans with friends celebrating Michael’s birthday. We joked a bit here and there about the virus (which in hind sight was dumb), but at the same time, we were all very serious about hand washing throughout the weekend. I went to my normal SoulCycle class at 4:30 today. But even there, I took extra precautions. I wiped down my bike with sanitizing wipes and immediately went to the restroom after class to wash my hands and water bottle. Things are beginning to get a bit more serious in the news. I chatted with my mom and dad after class on the phone about how crazy this all is becoming.
After work, Michael and I decided to zone out for an hour or so (like most week nights) and watch one episode of our current show – The Crown. In the time that it took us to watch a single one-hour episode, the Jazz-Thunder NBA game had been postponed moments before tip off, the NBA suspended the entire NBA season, and President Trump addressed the nation about growing concerns surrounding the virus and placed a ban on all foreign nationals from traveling to the US from 26 European countries. (Flights from China were already on pause.) I read all of this on Twitter, a little in shock.
Thursday, March 12th // On Thursday, more and more planned large sporting events, concerts, and gatherings were cancelled, including March Madness. The fact that companies are shutting down sports leagues and large events, losing out on billions of dollars, seems to bring home the fact that Coronavirus is real and poses a real threat to the US (China and Italy already hard hit). After a whirlwind day of trying to keep up with the ever evolving news cycle, Michael and I picked up sweetgreen for dinner and went on a long walk. Today is the day that folks started to panic. Photos and videos of area grocery stores on the news looked chaotic.
Michael received a phone call Thursday evening stating that his office here in Houston would be closed for the foreseeable future – everyone to work from home. I’m really thankful his office made this decision and thankful for the ability for him to be able to work remotely. *Editor’s Note: Michael’s company is based in San Francisco, which seemed to be the first big city to take things seriously and advise on social distancing (remaining at least 6 feet from one another). I assume that’s why his office decided to close relatively early compared to most others in Houston.
Friday, March 13th // Michael and I decided that I should probably go to the grocery store to stock up on a few things just in case we needed to stay home over the next few days. Even though things seem to be getting more serious, we are still contemplating meeting up with friends for dinner on Saturday night. I arrived at Trader Joe’s in River Oaks around 8:15AM after dropping Michael off at work, about 15 minutes after they opened. It was chaotic but not as bad as images I had seen on the news from other big box stores like Costco, Kroger, and HEB. I implored my DC grocery shopping skill 😉 and grabbed a few items from the middle isles and then jumped in the check out the line that by 8:30AM was wrapped around the entirety of the outside aisles of the store. I shopped while in line. The checkout line moved quite fast. There was a sense of anxiety in the air. Not many people were speaking to one another, people were wearing masks, some with gloves. It’s believed that medical masks, like the kn95 mask, can help people from spreading the virus if they’re showing symptoms. By people taking these sorts of precautions, it can help fewer people to get the virus. Whilst at the shop, most items were in stock – but there was no toilet paper.
President Trump declared a National Emergency over the outbreak.
Michael actually had to travel to West Texas during the day for work and didn’t get home until after 8PM Friday night. We made a homemade pizza, watched a show, and called it an early night.
Editor’s Note: There’s no toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, or hand sanitizer to be found anywhere, even online.
Saturday/Sunday, March 14th & 15th // We decided to call off our planned dinner date with friends on Saturday, out of what we thought was an abundance of caution. We didn’t leave our house on Saturday or Sunday, except for walks around our neighborhood. Social distancing fully implemented – we even avoided fellow neighbors on our walks (Editor’s Note: At the time, this seemed weird, a few weeks later, it’s the norm.). Over the weekend, the seriousness of it all really set in. I have a friend whose husband is a physician on the front lines of the Coronavirus fight in a hard hit state. He cautioned us on Saturday that we (as young, healthy folks) should limit our outings and stay in as much as possible. What he was seeing at his hospital was not good. I spent a lot of my weekend in group chats with friends and family trying to navigate what all was happening.
By Sunday, Michael and I were team social distance. We hadn’t left our house since Friday, and we aren’t planning to do so anytime soon.
Most state school systems are closed, brick and mortar stores are starting to follow suit.
Monday, March 16th // A lot of the country is working from home. Gyms are closed, restaurants and bars are transitioning to take out only. Michael and I started doing at-home workouts in our empty dining room – knew that room would come in handy at some point! 😉
I decided to venture out again to the grocery as I had a mild panic that we needed more food at home to cook. I went to Sprouts. They had most everything in stock except for meat. The only fresh meat they had in stock was ground beef, so I grabbed a few packs, along with other main-stay groceries. I had to wait in line to check out for about 30 minutes. Most people were maintaining the 6-feet apart requirement. Grocery runs are becoming quite the chore as we’ve began wiping down every item prior to bringing it into our house.
Tuesday, March 17th // San Francisco is included in a newly issued county-wide shelter in place order. The first of its kind here in the US. Cities in China and Europe have implemented similar orders. Is this coming for the rest of the country soon?
Thursday, March 19th // California governor orders all of California residents to stay home – shelter in place order on the entire state. Houston opened its first drive-thru testing facility – medical professionals are able to test people from their cars.
Friday, March 20th // The first real Friday of the new normal. I’m really looking forward to a Zoom happy hour with my college BFFs this evening! We survived the first full week of self quarantining and social distancing and working from home. It’s odd only having social media and the news as a way to see what’s going on beyond our little neighborhood here in the Heights in Houston. It’s also a weird concept to think about the fact that EVERYONE in the US (for the most part) is home. Besides grocery store workers, delivery men/women (UPS/FedEx/USPS), pharmacy workers, and obviously essential workforces like police, fire, and hospital staff, physicians, and supporting staff.
My desk at home faces out of our two front windows. It has been really sweet to see families out together during the day or after work hours taking a walk or bike ride around the block. Something I hardly ever saw pre-quarantine.
Michael and I are planning on enjoying frozen Trader Joe’s pizza and wine from our Portugal trip tonight!
Saturday, March 21st // Mom’s birthday! We FaceTimed – a birthday she surely won’t forget!
More states are starting to enforce “shelter in place” orders in an attempt to make people stay home. California, New York, Illinois, and Nevada. It rained almost all day here in Houston. Michael and I spent most of the day at home having a lazy, computer-free Saturday. I FaceTimed with my childhood BFFs. Had a bout of anxiety when seeing photos of people not heeding the advice of social distancing – the cherry blossoms in DC, spring breakers in Florida.
Sunday, March 22nd // The governor of Louisiana, Governor John Bell Edwards, announced Sunday that he is implementing a state-wide shelter in place order starting at 5PM on Monday. Louisiana, New Orleans in particular, appears to be a new hot spot for the virus. Officials are blaming the timing – it appears that Coronavirus seeded in New Orleans sometime during (or before?) Mardi Gras. The crowds helped to spread the disease quickly.
Our spirits are still mostly positive here in Houston. Michael and I had a productive Sunday. We worked from the couch in the morning, went on a long walk, Michael cleaned out his closet while I baked cookies. We cooked spaghetti bolognese for dinner, watched a show, and went to bed early.
A note from the week – Most brick and mortar stores across the nation are closed – especially brick and mortar stores that operate under a large brand name, like Nordstrom, Madewell etc.
Most gyms, barbers, spas, and the like are closed as well.
Tuesday, March 25th // Stay home order issued for Houston and Harris County starting tomorrow March, 25th. This means all non-essential businesses have to close. The only stores open at this point are grocery, liquor, pharmacies and gas stations.
Wednesday, March 26th // Michael and I lasted 10 days with our last grocery run. I needed to restock today, so I made a plan to head to Trader Joe’s when soon as they opened. With new store hours (new store hours have been implemented at most grocery stores across the nation to give the stores more time to sanitize the stores and restock – some are offering senior citizen hour(s) prior to the store opening to the public), I arrived around 8:40AM. The store opened at 9AM. A line began forming around 8:50AM. Trader Joe’s had the sidewalk marked with tape markers, 6-feet apart so that everyone knew how far to stand away from one another. Everyone lined up, and a TJ’s employee came out and allowed anyone 55 years old or older into the store ahead of opening. Then, one by one, the employee let us in the store – offering sanitizing wipes to each person to wipe down the shopping cart. The store did get a bit crowded so it was hard to maintain 6-feet distance from others at all time. The store actually had everything in stock, even the items that have been sold out for days/weeks online and in other stores, including toilet paper, tissues, and meat. Similar to the outside line, the checkout line had tape markers on the ground to indicate where customers could stand to remain 6 feet apart.
I waited in line for about 20 minutes – not too bad! The TJ’s workers were actively monitoring the line and immediately bringing folks who appeared to be older to the front of the line, which was really nice to see. (No photos from the store because I didn’t want to touch my phone while inside). Once I returned home, I kept all of our groceries on a landing at the top of our stairs in a little area outside of the main door to our house. I used sanitizing spray to wipe down all of the products and discarded packaging where I could. I then took all of the fruit and veggies and soaked them in fruit and veggie wash in the sink. After all of the groceries were put away, I immediately stripped off my clothes from the store and showered. I also left my shoes that I wore to the store outside. All in, it was a 3ish hour process. The new normal for a bit I suppose.
Editor’s Note: This Stay at Home order was extended through April 30, 2020.
Friday, March 27th // A bright spot! One of my college BFFs had a baby!
Sunday, March 29th // Officially wrapped up our third weekend of quarantine! We’ve also cooked and eaten every single meal at home since Friday, March 13th, something I would venture to say I haven’t done since I started eating solid foods 🙂 … Around 8PM, Trump issued a statement extending the social distancing guidelines to April 30, 2020. Another month. Wow. All I can say right now is that I’m thankful for a weekend of no rain and warm temps. Weather has always affected my mood, but the weather has played a big part in how I feel day to day during this quarantine. Any dreary days just seem blah and hard. Thankful we were able to spend a lot of time on our back deck and on long walks this weekend.
Monday, March 30th // Starting the 3rd full week of working from home …
I ordered groceries online this week to fill in a few holes – mostly on fresh produce. I had to order from several different places to find the items in stock – I placed orders through Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods (Amazon), and Walmart. All were delivered within a day to our house. This was my first time ordering groceries for delivery. It worked well, so I’ll likely continue to do so as long as it keeps working. For the Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods orders, originally, there were no available time slots open, but I kept my browser open and hit refresh for about an hour, and I finally secured delivery windows.
Monday, April 6th // It has been one week since I’ve sat down to jot down my thoughts on the current situation. Last week kind of flew by. Lots of the same. Infections on the rise, and unfortunately deaths too. While New York remains the epicenter in the US, other hot spots are Michigan (Detroit), DC, Louisiana (New Orleans), and Colorado. Washington state and California remain hot spots as well. The new news this week is that the CDC is recommending that every American wear a cloth mask when out in public. The Surgeon General even posted a video on how to DIY a cloth face covering out of material most people have on hand at home.
Michael and I are on week 4 of working from home. We left the house twice last week – one time to pick up an online order from Total Wine – they’re now offering contactless delivery right to your car – and to Boil House for crawfish on Friday. Boil House was our first MEAL that we didn’t make at home in over three weeks!
This quote was in one of the daily newsletters I received today. I found that it really resonated.
Through all of this, I’m keeping in mind how fortunate I am to have a job that I’m able to continue working. (Unemployment numbers were released yesterday – almost 17 million people filed for unemployment in the last 3 weeks.) I’m also grateful to have a small outdoor space, and I’m thankful to have Michael to be quarantined with during this time. Thinking of everyone who is going through this alone!
Thursday, April 9th // I placed our second round of grocery delivery orders online today. I was able to secure delivery windows on both Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods (through Amazon). One same day and one for Saturday. Again, I had to refresh the delivery window page for about an hour before I was able to secure the slots. I received my Whole Foods order same day, and every item was fulfilled.
Friday, April, 10th // Today marks four full weeks that we’ve been quarantined at home. Our spirits remain mostly positive. I’ve been trying to focus on the present, the current situation, while reminding myself that this won’t last forever. The novelty of staying home has somewhat started to wear off and now that we’re one month in, it’s kind of become the new normal (for now, at least). I continue to count my blessings and continue to be thankful to those on the front lines (EMS, doctors, nurses, therapists, hospital cleaning staff, etc.) and to the essential workers (grocery store and pharmacy employees, delivery persons, etc.). And of course thinking of all of those affected by Covid-19 and the families of the thousands that have perished because of it.