First, let me remind you of some things that you likely already know about this contagion itself. Unless you yourself are elderly or have respiratory problems, you are not likely to die from this disease. The risk of death, however, is a risk we share with our older and unwell family members, friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens. Just because you may not be at high risk of death yourself, and you think you could manage an illness if it happens, does not mean you should not take precautions. Take precautions immediately. I’ll discuss those below. Do this now, because somebody’s grandmother is counting on you.
Second, we face many secondary perils other than the virus itself. Social disorder, financial chaos, interrupted logistics, media alarmism, and a world “on pause” will have a significant impact on us all. Even if you hold on to the belief that the virus itself “is not that bad,” you still need to take precautions against the massive social impacts, which have already occurred on a scale unprecedented in any of our lifetimes. Never before have we seen every major athletic league cancel their seasons, major retailers close stores for weeks, and whole countries close their borders and go into lockdown. These social impacts will get worse.
Third, expect this interruption to business as usual to last at least two months, but don’t be surprised if it lasts longer.
So, what precautions do I suggest you take?
1. Chose a single, indoor place to stay for the next two months or more immediately. This will likely be your home, your second home, or a family member’s home. If you live in a widely-infected area, your “place” may be an AirBnB or another long-term stay option away from your usual home.
2. Get your family members with you. Get your spouse back from the business trip, get your kids back from college, and get your dog back from the kennel. You all need to be in one place now and for the foreseeable future.
3. Stock your location with at least a two month’s worth of food, water, medications, and other life necessities. This is not a drill. We all hope you will not need these supplies. But have them. You won’t feel silly about being extra prepared.
4. Stop leaving your place now. It doesn’t matter if schools are closed in your town, or if nobody has the virus it where you live. Stop going out. Now, of course, you will go out in an emergency, and you’ll walk the dog. But in general, stop going out. Really.
Avoid these false hopes:
1. Testing. Forget testing. This is an airborne contagion, and we are in the mitigation phase. We are way, way past the containment phase. We’ve likely all been exposed, or we will be. Testing is just going to tell us how bad it is.
2. Inflammatory news and media. We have more options for information than ever before. There are reliable, sober sources and there is Twitter. Use common sense, and don’t overdo it by gluing yourself to the idiot box. I highly recommend installing the AP News app on your personal device, as well as the app of a local news outlet, and reading those sources primarily.
3. Hospitals. Unless you are extremely ill or have a life-or-death emergency, avoid the hospital. Those places are about to become the waiting room before the afterlife.
4. The federal, state, and local governments. No one is coming to help you. They don’t have extra supplies on hand. Police, firefighters, city council members, judges, garbage men, and bus drivers are all going to get sick too.
The Good News
Have you been planning to lose ten pounds? Learn Portuguese? Make a quilt? One bit of good news is, now is your time. When this is over (and it will be over), you may wish that you had made the most of this impromptu holiday. So, what project have you been meaning to tackle that you can take on now? Having a quarantine quest is going to make the time move faster, keep you distracted from the daily tide of bad news, and give you a sense of accomplishment rather than frustration. As the futurist Li Edelkoort recently said regarding this interruption to life, “We will learn how to be happy just with a simple dress, the rediscovery of old favourites, reading a forgotten book and cooking up a storm to make life beautiful.” I wish that for all of you. I hope that in this moment of crisis, you find opportunity. Certainly, that is the key to survival, in all circumstances.
Stay Safe, -Catherine