An 80-Year-Old’s Morning in the Age of COVID-19
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
It’s 1:00 in the afternoon, and this has been my day so far in The Age of Coronavirus.
7:00 A.M. Wake up, turn on CNN. Nothing but progress of COVID-19. Spreading exponentially. Testing now is actually occurring (after weeks of false reports). But not in Maryland where I live. We’ve received the testing kits and have a drive-thru site ready, but apparently there’s a snafu in the labs that read the tests.
Jim at the Giant to pick up bananas and fresh tomatoes. We stocked up for possible quarantine, but he likes to get out while he still can. Early in the morning he expects few shoppers, so no problem social distancing. He calls to say the store is down to nine bananas. (“I left four. I’m not a hoarder”) and only cherry tomatoes. He’ll also gas up my car, covering the pump handle with a paper towel. Back in the car he’ll use a little of our waning supply of hand sanitizer.
My back hurts and I have a dry cough. No fear. The cough is chronic post nasal drip, and the pain is osteoporosis. I’m looking forward to my physical therapy session at 10:00 with Bonnie. Her massages test my pain tolerance – but they work. When she’s done I do feel better, and am usually able to get out of bed next morning without grimacing. We have a date every Tuesday and Friday.
8:00 A.M. I listen to more news, decide to cancel Bonnie, even though she’s Irish and it’s St. Patrick’s Day. All bars, restaurants, gyms, and schools are closed. No parades. I get emails from four doctors with the same basic message: STAY AWAY. Don’t worry, we have telemedicine!
One email says if you have to come in, wait in your car (not in the waiting room). (I’m not making this up.)
9:00 A.M. I eat a little yogurt for calcium. Read the Washington Post. San Francisco is locked down. There’s a run on GUNS, for God’s sake! People are preparing to shoot their neighbors, I guess, if they knock to borrow an egg.
9:45 A.M. Check email. My millennial granddaughter Emily, passes along a message from a former colleague at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The hospital will run out of masks in one week. They come from China. (An hour later the President announces he has asked builders to donate painter’s masks to hospitals!) Gov. Cuomo says CDC predicts 40–60% of us will get hit, and 17% of those will have to be hospitalized. NY needs 7,000 more beds. Army engineers may put up field hospitals.
10:45 A.M. Sig (my co-author) calls with a little levity. He texts me a picture. Caption is “Experts recommend keeping your daily rituals even while working from home.” Shows a guy dressed for work, jacket, sunglasses, earbuds, standing in a bathroom — holding cellphone in one hand, the other grasping the shower bar.
11:00 A.M. Jim’s oral surgeon calls to cancel surgery scheduled for March 25. Why? It would be in his office, not in a hospital that needs space. An in-and-out procedure. Maybe his team just wants to stay ten feet away from everyone. Tough for a dentist.
On TV, Mayor De Blasio of NYC is warning residents to get ready for a possible “shelter in place” order. New Jersey already has a curfew from 8 P.M. to 5 A.M.
The mayor’s speech interrupted by Trump predicting this may be like the Great Depression. But we can’t create jobs like the CCC because they worked in groups. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announces we’re “signing paper” (Borrowing? Printing more money?) for a TRILLION DOLLARS. To send every adult $1,000. Sorry I laughed at Andrew Yang.
Stay safe, and look after each other!