Annoyed, to be honest. I admit, part of my annoyance is selfish because next week is our spring break. Thank goodness we’re not big spring break travelers, but I did have quite a few activities planned for our stay-cation, and I don’t know how many of them we’ll actually get to do because people have lost their heads, and everything is closing. My younger son was looking forward to seeing the dinosaur exhibit at our zoo, but now that’s not going to happen. Even some Florida beaches are closed, and although I’m about the last person you’ll ever see on a beach, restricting people from the outdoors, from fresh air and sun, seems like one of the worst ideas to me. (Read about sun therapy here, and thanks to Heather for sharing it to begin with.)
As a planner, I’m always the first to sign up for things, but that one got me hard this week when a race my elder son participates in every year (and placed second in last year) was cancelled. No make-up date, no refunds. I’m grateful I didn’t pre-purchase anything for the upcoming week (mainly because I wasn’t sure when my husband would be able to take off work and join us). Now, if we’re able to do anything, I’ll pay on-site.
I understand closing Disney World for 14 days. That should be enough time to ensure that any possible lingering virus in the air is gone, and when it re-opens, I am sure there will be all kinds of measures in place to ensure guests are virus-free. Likewise, I get postponing events that attract a lot of people and suspending activities like my kids’ baseball practices and games until early April. Sometimes you have to use precautions like these to save people from themselves. But cancelling the rest of the NBA’s season? Couldn’t they just come back in early April like everyone else (after ensuring all players are well) and extend it a couple weeks? May I remind you that the NBA didn’t let Magic Johnson’s HIV diagnosis stop them.
And then there’s the absolute absurdity of the toilet paper shortage. Even though I think over-publicity has to do with much of the pandemonium we’re experiencing, this one even baffled the news anchors on the local new station I watch every morning. “We didn’t say it was that kind of a virus,” one of them said the other day. What idiot decided that this was the hot commodity everyone had to have, and why did the rest of the country buy into it? Hand sanitizer I get—even bleach—but TP? I’m scratching my head over that one and just grateful that I had a coupon a few weeks ago and bought in bulk. If you need toilet paper, skip the crazy, and come to my house; I will be glad to give you some.
I went grocery shopping today, and at my first stop, there was plenty of everything (even a pretty good selection of toilet paper still on the shelves). At the entrance to the store, though, the station with sanitary wipes for grocery cart handles was missing. I waited with a couple other customers while a store employee replaced them. The worker explained that they have to replace the wipes every couple hours because people are pulling out wipe after wipe, storing them in bags, and taking them home. She also said that one woman was in the bathroom, filling a bottle with soap from the store’s soap dispenser, and another was taking toilet paper from the stalls—when there was plenty of toilet paper on the shelves! And this was the best of the four stores I visited. As a writer, I have a kind of morbid fascination with people watching, but the insanity I witnessed today is the precursor to people self-destructing. If something like an actual zombie apocalypse were to ever happen, I fear the level of hysteria would be even worse than what our most far-fetched movies depict.
Which brings me to what really bothers me about this Coronavirus debacle—the impact on our economy. People have made it obvious that they’re willing to steal items that are both cheap and available, but aside from this abhorrent behavior, what about those sole proprietors and small businesses that are losing business because people are now too scared to go about their daily lives (albeit a little more cautiously)? Even with measures put in place to ensure workers are paid when businesses close (like at Disney), some businesses are so small that they can’t afford this. How can a private music teacher, for instance, pay herself when her students have been scared into staying at home?
Our world has suffered worse pandemics. Yes, people traveling and not knowing they had Coronavirus helped it spread globally, but people seem to be forgetting about the regular diseases that are always around and are more contagious and have a higher mortality rate. No one is flipping out about them. The flu has killed—and will continue to kill—people for years, and we’re just like, Stay home. Drink plenty of fluids. For that matter, I’m more worried about leaving my house and getting hit by a drunk driver than being sneezed on by someone who might be sick—and I have an autoimmune disease, people.
You may think I’m not taking this seriously, but I do care. I count the seconds now when I wash my hands—and send my kids back to the bathroom to make sure they do the same. We’re gearing up for at least two weeks at home (after spring break, they’ll be engaged in distance learning because life has to go on), and what that looks like is a little self-discipline to make sure they get their work done, time to play outside because they’ll get tired of being cooped up, more time to actually cook because I won’t be commuting, and six cases of toilet paper because… oh, wait. Never do we ever need six cases of toilet paper at once. You won’t find us locked in a bunker, chewing our fingernails until someone swoops in and tells us it’s safe to come out. As a friend pointed out recently, there are many people who are immunocompromised, and they’ve learned how to live in a world that’s not exactly immuno-friendly. I think we can all take a lesson from them. Wash your hands, folks, and have a little common sense.