Dear 100 Hour Board,
Where are you living? What COVID-19 restrictions are currently in place there? How closely have you been following them? Do you think your area has the right rules in place, or are they too lenient or too restrictive? Is your area opening up too soon or not soon enough?
Or, if you'd rather, how are you coping (or not coping) with quarantine?
-in southern California, maybe too soon
Ohio! From what I've heard, our governor did a pretty good job of shutting things down. I'm not sure if it's opening up too fast, but to be honest, our life has changed very little. Spectre has been working from home since we moved out here in November, and until March, I wasn't in a great mental state to go out a ton. Except, just as I was getting more social, I had to stop. We also hadn't really interacted with a ton of people in our ward before we stopped meeting, so that's been hard, since we don't know a ton of people out here. Plus, with a child and without family around, most of our date nights were at home anyways, so that didn't change. On the other hand, we've been investing in putting together our backyard to be more enjoyable. We repaired our playset, bought an umbrella and patio furniture, and we're going to be staining our deck. Since we moved out here, we started planning virtual game nights with Yellow and Dragon Lady, and those have continued through the quarantine, which was nice to have already set up.
We don't go out as a family any more unless we're driving around. Only one of us will go to a store at a time, and we always wear masks. It's not that big of a deal to me, and I'd rather be safe than sorry. We are, however, planning on flying out to visit Utah family/friends in August. Whether or not that's our best idea remains to be seen.
Here in Utah, things are opening up a little too soon (in my opinion). I am happy that the library's offering curbside pickup now, though. Those two months without access to free (print) books were dark times.
I was already working from home after months of trying to convince my boss and my partner works in healthcare so we've both been lucky to keep our jobs and have very little change in our routines. The only hard part has been not seeing other people besides my partner and immediate family. All the stress has also been like gasoline on a fire for my OCD so emotionally, it's been what you'd call a "dark night of the soul" for me. But I'm trying to recognize what I have to be grateful for and connect with friends in ways that are still possible.
Things have eased up a little now, but for a while in Wisconsin we had a stay-at-home order, so whenever my boyfriend and I met up (which was every day) it felt a little bit like we were forbidden lovers sneaking around and evading the government. Was it nearly as cool as that makes it sound? No, but I did feel a little guilty.
-the Goose Girl
Dear Too Soon,
I think Utah is reopening too soon, and the fact that our cases have spiked since reopening only reaffirms that belief. Then again, it seemed like nobody was staying home even in the middle of lockdown procedures, so who knows.
I also live in Southern California, where some restrictions are being lifted. Beaches will reopen tomorrow and restaurants are now allowed to seat customers as long as groups are six feet apart from each other. Reopening doesn't make a lot of sense to me because functionally, I don't think anything has changed: my county hasn't really flattened the curve, we're not any better at treating the disease, and we still don't have a vaccine or evidence of herd immunity. But also I understand that some activities are higher-risk than others, and that maybe we can be more precise about what industries or businesses we shutter to strike the right balance between public health and economic survival.
As for coping: I tend toward extreme introversion, so COVID hasn't actually changed my life all that much. The hardest thing has been the injunction not to mix households, which has meant that my family has isolated ourselves from my elderly grandmother and my brother who lives with her. They're going crazy. Very soon now, I think we're going to have to shift the discourse from "how to self-isolate completely" to "if you're going to interact with others, here's how to be safe about it."
Dear in ~
Utah. I’m alive, so I suppose I’m coping. How well I’m coping is a different matter entirely. Very much depends on the day. COVID-19 has turned me into an emotional yo-yo. Today happens to be a good day. Journaling has become my mental lifeline. (Shout out to Day One!)
I was very impressed with Gov. Herbert and how quickly everything shut down and how much they followed data. I'm no longer sure I am impressed. We went to yellow two scant weeks after going to orange. I was shocked. Like, there could have been people who were just barely showing symptoms after having contracted the disease at the beginning of orange! I truly did not believe it would lower so quickly. And now, in just the last few days, the timing following suspiciously after going to yellow, Mother's Day, and Memorial Day, we have seen 1/5 of our total cases in just one week! While that was happening, there is a committee compromised of businessmen and no health officials pressuring the governor to move to green. Right as we hit our highest spike yet, people are still calling the disease fake and pressuring the governor to move to green. He did not, thankfully. We'll see what next Friday brings.
Today I read a report of a child in Lehi being laughed at because she wore a mask in public. I don't care what your personal beliefs in masks are, publicly humiliating a child, or allowing your own child to do so, is 100% inappropriate. This is hard enough.
We are mostly staying at home. I do still go shopping, but I wear a mask, and require anyone else with me to also wear a mask. I try to mostly leave my kids home, though. Both Yellow and I can work from home easily, and our financial situation is largely unchanged, thankfully. If anything, we have moved money around in our budget and spend even more in an effort to support small businesses. Turns out, I'm far more introverted than I expected, and when we were in red, had no problem at all just staying home. In fact, that may have been the easiest time period for me. Now that there are social events I can attend, it's far more difficult for me to decide if I should go or if I should stay home. My mental health has been a yo-yo. Yellow continues to be a pillar of strength in every way in my life. I'm not sure anything could ever break him. That man is a saint. He researches for me, because he knows it's hard for me and that I live in a near-constant state of decision fatigue. His most recent research has been on how likely children are to contract and spread COVID-19, and it turns out, at least at our current level of knowledge, that rate is pretty low. So we allow our children to have play dates, mostly outside, and mostly with one other family, who is also mostly limiting their play dates to our children.
Turns out, my children play together a lot more and fight a lot less right now. They also watch a lot more screen time, and I have a much harder time caring, because they're usually doing it together and not fighting about it. Usually.
~ Dragon Lady
I'm in Texas. At least in my area, virtually everyone wears a mask at the grocery store, so I don't feel out of place wearing one, which I'm grateful for. I haven't really gone anywhere else recently, so I'm not fully aware of how everyone's taking it.
I live alone, and since I work from home and there's no church events right now, I've had virtually zero face-to-face meaningful interaction with another human for two and half months. I'm pretty much a homebody, so things haven't been that different, all things considered. Even so, I feel like I'm slowly going mad, and it's kind of fascinating.
I remember reading a book in high school about an arctic explorer who was the last survivor of his expedition. It told of him going crazy as he slowly died alone trapped in an arctic winter, and the book was actually a true story based on the journals he left behind. I've reflected on that story every now and then. I mean, what does it feel like to lose your mind like that? I thought I'd never know, but here I am getting the opportunity to get a taste of it.
So, no, coping is not the right word here. Sometimes I feel okay and sometimes it's all a bit too much to bear. But I'm also hoping it will at least be a good story to tell. And it's not like I'm starving to death or anything, at least not until I get the virus and can't go to the grocery store anymore.
I'm in Florida. The number of cases is still on the rise, but things are still opening up. It's hard for me to say whether the rules in place are adequate, simply because we're still discovering new things about the virus on a regular basis. The most recent news I saw indicated the virus is not frequently spreading via asymptomatic carriers, so who's to know whether the measures we're taking actually address the problem?
Regardless, I've been fairly cautious. The only people I've come in contact with are some family, my roommates, and my boyfriend, and I pretty much only go out for groceries and other necessities.
Honestly, I'm coping pretty well, but that's because I've also been very lucky. I have a job that allows me to work from home, and the first few months of quarantine were consumed by the pursuit of my Master's degree. I also started dating someone shortly before quarantine, so that's kept life feeling new and exciting.
Hi there friend,
I live in the great city of Salt Lake, and as all Utahns may know, the restrictions are currently merely a gentle suggestion, please, if you wouldn't mind. Salt Lake City is still in the slightly firmer *pretty please zone of suggestion*. I think the restrictions ought to be tighter and we need to be more careful, especially considering there was a big jump in cases over the weekend. I suspect that the protests on Saturday will also lead to another spike in cases.
Coping: Since I started working remotely (March... 17th?), I've been through a few things, including my mother's very sudden death. I also don't do well in isolation; I need plenty of support from family and friends due to my anxiety/depression. I've been leaning a lot on phone calls (I actually hate texting, I find it really impersonal), streaming video games with friends and family, chilling with my pets, and lots of art. I'm doing surprisingly well, considering the sheer amount of stress I've been under.
Dear La La Land,
I actually sent an entirely serious email looking to rent a room in L.A. the day after Memorial Day.
Then things blew up, I met a guy, and I decided to stay here in the suburbs of Salt Lake County.
I feel like I'm probably at a solid B-plus in terms of compliance. I've taken a couple of not-strictly-necessary trips downtown to walk around its empty, wide, eerie streets. I started dating when we were in the yellow zone, so before some might feel comfortable. I actually feel much more annoyed by the masks than I expected to, not least because my county has done no real unified testing, no contact tracing, and I have had no symptoms, but I do wear them when they're required.
We had the biggest spike yet, so huzzah for tanking the economy with no plan and for a possible wave of needless death!
Dear Southern California,
I'm also in Southern California. I'm conflicted.
On the one hand, I understand that we can't keep doing this forever. We need to find a way to allow life to continue, because it could be a very long time before we find a way to make COVID-19 go away.
On the other hand, there are a lot of people in the state for whom COVID-19 would be a death sentence. They deserve to be protected.
I don't know how best to thread that needle. I get the impression California is generally doing a good job; I also understand there are experts in that field and I am absolutely not one of them. I do appreciate that people are pretty consistently wearing masks and staying away from each other. I appreciate that essential businesses have found ways to keep operating without putting people at any more risk than necessary. I hope that some of these precautions and cultural shifts (like the idea that it's normal to wear a mask in public if you think you might be sick or if you have a compromised immune system, and nobody needs to ask you why you're doing it) become long-term changes.
On a personal level, I've had some things happen in my life in the last month that are only tangentally related to the pandemic but have had a pretty dramatic impact on me, so it's hard to say how I'm coping with COVID when that's honestly the least of my worries right now. I will say, though, before any of that happened, the thing that disturbed me the most about pandemic life was just how little had changed. Yes, I've been working from home instead of the office, but other than that my life in April was basically the same as my life in February. That's not a sign of anything healthy.
As far as activities that have helped me cope, I've been interested in birds for a few years now and bought a DSLR camera (Nikon D3500! It's great!) on Black Friday last fall, but it's only been in the last few months that I've really thrown myself into birding and photography. It's been wonderful to finally find something that I can actually focus on and enjoy that isn't on the other side of a screen and that gets me out of the house and moving. In-person friendships are hard to come by at the moment, but I've been slowly finding an online community. I've taken thousands of pictures. Most are pretty mediocre. A handful are stunning. I'll be sharing a few of them in other answers this week.
I'm in the Bay Area. My company made working at home mandatory on March 1, and has said that we're not going back to the office until next year at the earliest. My county is still under an indefinite shelter-in-place order, and, with the events of the past few days, an indefinite 8pm curfew. It's a grand time to live in a one-bedroom apartment with a two-year-old.
Honestly, though: we're introverts, so while we miss being able to visit the zoo and the children's museum and the pool, we've adjusted surprisingly well. I'm grateful for a local government that took fast and decisive action, as it seems to have had a positive effect so far. And while I'd like things to open up, I'd like even more to protect the vulnerable in society. I feel quite anxious watching places open up because I think it's too early, and many of them haven't met the minimum required preparedness steps to make it safe. And thus, while I'd like to be back to 'normal' life (selfishly, I miss my swim team), I'm glad my city isn't rushing anything.
We're in the Phoenix area. I think that most places besides theaters and big events (concerts, live sports) are opening back up, although with restrictions regarding distancing and capacity. We try to stay in and wear masks when we can't, mostly for the sake of Skippergirl. She has some medical conditions that don't necessarily make her more susceptible to catching the virus, but would likely mean that her symptoms would be severe if she did. We already isolate her and ourselves every flu season anyway for the same reason, but not quite to the same degree. My company has had everybody working remotely since March, which has been a huge blessing. I'm an introvert so I don't miss the human interaction; I love spending all day every day at home with my favorite people.
We did take a trip a couple of weeks ago to see some family in southern Utah and it was amazing to see how few people were following recommended guidelines there. To be fair, they've also had fewer cases than many areas of the country, but it was a little surreal.
I think that cautiously opening things back up now would be fine if people were smart about it. I'm really disappointed that wearing masks has become so politicized. It seems like one the easiest ways to open things back up quickly and safely.
Dear in southern California, maybe too soon,
I'm in Portland, Oregon. Everything locked down in mid-March. Some parts of Oregon started reopening slowly in mid-May, but Multnomah County has maintained its stay-at-home order through the current time, as far as I know. I know they were meant to reconsider moving into Stage I or whatever it is on June 1, but I haven't been paying as much attention given all of the protests. The restaurants are all still closed except for takeout and it seems that many businesses are too. The large auto insurer I work for sent us all home in early March and we won't be back in the office until at least September 1. I think everything should be opening slower. We still don't have access to testing so opening seems foolhardy to me.
I mostly get my groceries delivered. I do almost all my shopping online. I only really leave my house to go back and forth to my quarantine buddy's apartment. I live alone and total isolation was not going to work for me due to my mental health issues. My isolation buddy also lives alone and we don't hang out with anybody else. I wear a mask in public and think that everyone at the protests is incredibly brave. I've been in a lot of marches, but I haven't been out to these, for a lot of reasons (none of which have to do with my belief in the cause, and if you haven't donated to bail funds or good organizations, you should). COVID-19 is not at the bottom of that list.
- The Black Sheep
I'm also living in Salt Lake County in one of the suburbs. I only go grocery shopping once every two weeks, and that's the only time I really leave my apartment. I have seen family members a few times, but have been keeping to myself for the most part.
In my opinion, Utah should be a lot more strict about social distancing measures, particularly in Salt Lake County, seeing as our case count is only growing.