Everything is Fine! The Coronavirus Isn’t Making Me Crazy. OMG Send Help


Every morning for the past few days I wake up and scan the headlines for breaking news about the coronavirus. But I promise that I’m not panicking! It’s a calm obsession.

There’s no quickening of my pulse as I read about ever more cases that have been caught within the local community in North America. Though the implications of the virus spreading without direct contact with people who have been travelling abroad is clear: it’s already circulating in the general population.

I am not breaking out in a cold sweat as I realize that the US has barely been testing for the virus until this week. The news is reporting that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) botched the manufacturing and distribution of screening tests and that there were lengthy delays in getting the results for the few tests that had been administered. But, hey! That does explain why I have heard anecdotally on social media about people who have been exposed to known cases of the coronavirus and been refused testing, even when they are presenting with symptoms and even when they are immunocompromised.

My stomach is not tied in knots as I read simultaneously about people clearing out the shelves at Costco and those who dismiss the entire pandemic as no biggie. People who are hoarding more than their share of supplies, and especially those who are selling hand sanitizer and antibacterial products at cut-throat prices, are showing how selfish and opportunistic people can be in times like this. But those who glibly tell everyone to relax and wash your hands because COVID-19 only kills the vulnerable are no better. “Don’t worry, the death rate is low. Anyone that dies to it is too weak anyway,” is a real comment I read this morning. Tell that to parents whose children are on chemotherapy drugs to treat cancer or autoimmune diseases. Tell that to the children whose parents are immune-compromised. Tell that to anyone with a “preexisting condition” that does not, in fact, make them a lesser human being.

I am not breathing fast when I read about how Japan has closed schools for the entire month of March. Okay, that’s a lie. That one does get me. Mother of all that is good in this world, please don’t let that happen!

No, I’m not panicking, but when I look at all the preparations we’re supposed to be making I do start to cackle like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. It’s a perfectly calm obsession with just a hint of maniacal hysteria. EVERYTHING IS FINE.

“Don’t touch your face,” they say. Fine! Smart! Sounds good! Oh god, I just touched my face. Crap. Did it again. I probably touch my own face 16 times per minute, but never mind me. I took two of my kids to the grocery store on Friday evening and looked at them through the lens of a justifiably germaphobic public and it was downright revolting. Not only did they swipe and paw at their own faces, they also couldn’t stop picking up random apples and avocados and bunches of collard greens. I practically had to tackle them to the ground on the way past the salad bar. They also had zero sense of personal space and continually crowded right up to strangers by the poultry cooler and in the cereal aisle and (oh my god) lining up at the cash.

But I went to the supermarket, right? So I’m stocked up on enough non-perishables to see us through a couple of weeks should it come to that. With the number of times I’ve gone food shopping in the past couple of weeks, you would think so! But alas. It turns out that when you have three growing children, the more you buy, the more they eat. “Oh! Waffles and granola bars! Cereal and crackers!” And while they are not cracking open cans of beans and cooking rice, I am. I still need to feed everyone every single day, and no matter how often I fill the freezer and the pantry, they’re always half empty again before I know it. Don’t even talk to me about toilet paper.

I thought about going around and disinfecting all the commonly touched surfaces in my house. You know, they say to disinfect faucets and light switches. So for us, that would also include computer keyboards, pens and pencils, the fridge door, the remotes, every single blanket and towel, the banister, the entire length of the wall going up the stairs on the other side of the banister, all the walls at the eight-year-old’s height, actually, and the floors, every chair, the cabinet doors they swing on, my own jewellery box (c’mon girls!) and I should probably just call in a hazmat team for the bathrooms.

Cue the laughter.

Photo credit: IMDB

All I can think to do is to continually follow the children around, calling out, “Don’t touch your face!” “Wash your hands!” “For the love of–don’t pick your nose!” I could use the skin on my own hands to sand plywood this week, I’ve been washing them so much. And don’t worry, I’ll be keeping the children away from grocery stores and open food displays.

I’m staying calm, I promise. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to refresh my news feed and then get back to the supermarket.

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