Tag Archives: coronavirus

Bicycle Barricades are Down

Bike path on a sunny day with a sign saying to maintain 6 feet of distance between people.

…and replaced with these warning signs to maintain distance.

I think this particular path could have been left open with these warnings to begin with, because there’s so much room to go around people even if it did draw a crowd. It’s not like the paths along the base or top of the bluffs near the coast where you really can’t keep your distance if there are too many people (particularly when the beach itself is closed).

Heck, there’s more room to spread out here than on the sidewalks along most streets. I think the only reason they closed this path to begin with was that they had closed the other paths — the ones that don’t have giant open spaces on either side — and were concerned about people gravitating toward the one remaining path and, once again, creating a crowd.

It’s worth remembering, as California moves to stage 2 and cities and counties start loosening pandemic restrictions, that the coronavirus pandemic isn’t over. We’ve slowed its progress enough that it looks like we can take a few more risks without overwhelming the health system, but if we go back to large gatherings and people milling about together, we’ll be right back where we started.

And we still don’t know how long antibodies provide immunity — if at all.

Keep your masks. And keep your distance.

A Month of Semi-Isolation

As of today, it’s been a full month since I last set foot in the office. I went home Friday night, did a zillion errands Saturday, went for a photowalk on Sunday, and got slammed by the flu Sunday night.

By the time I was over the flu, Los Angeles and California were shutting down as much as possible to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

I’ve been lucky. I have a job that I can do remotely, health insurance and sick leave, and an employer who prepared for shifting the entire company from an office to remote work. We’re all in reasonably good health so far. We’re living in an area that hasn’t been hit hard (yet), and it’s still possible to at least get outside for a walk in the neighborhood.

But it’s still wearing.

Balancing staying informed with not obsessing over the news (because so much of it is bad). Worrying about other people you know. About whether resources will be there for them (or for you) if and when it hits. Trying to home-school on short notice. Trying to help a kid with his own anxieties when you’re barely managing your own. All the extra hand-washing and disinfecting. Wondering which staples you will and won’t be able to restock. How risky is that grocery trip? Spending your time cooped up with a few people, then going out and finding that your social anxiety has latched onto the social distancing guidelines and is screaming “I told you you needed to stay away from people!” whenever you walk past someone, even with the recommended 6-foot distance between you.

And of course the ever-present fear that the next cough, the next weird symptom, will signal the first of us to catch the disease. And from there, whether we’ll be able to get tested or not. Whether each of us will get a “mild” case or one requiring a hospital stay, or a ventillator. Whether there will be any hospital beds or ventillators available if we do need them.

And it’s almost certainly going to be all of us, because we just don’t have the space to isolate one of us at home. My remote work setup is in the living room, plugged into my own PC’s monitor, because that’s where I have room for it. We don’t have a spare room to isolate just one of us for two weeks.

It’s a constant hum of anxiety. I wouldn’t even call it background noise, it’s more like a dissonant musical score that breaks into the foreground for maximum discomfort. And I know it’s going to be like this for months, unless we do catch covid-19 early on. Which I don’t want to happen, but if we all recover, it’ll be such a relief to be able to relax all the precautions for however long immunity lasts.

I posted a while back that I think a lot about Sam’s speech in Lord of the Rings about how in the dark parts of the middle of the stories that matter, the people in those stories are the ones who choose to keep going, because there’s something good at the other end worth persevering for. But I saw someone post another reference the other day, to Pippin talking about how he doesn’t want to be in a battle, but waiting on the edge of one that he knows is coming, but can’t stop, is almost worse.

Fitbit vs. Coronavirus?

I was thinking about how my step count is waaaaay down just from staying home, but I’m still wearing the tracker for heart rate. So I wondered what else it might be able to infer and went looking…

It turns out some newer fitness trackers can measure oxygen saturation. Imagine hooking that up to an alert for someone who’s been treating at home to catch worsening symptoms early!

CA Lockdown Confusion

On Thursday, Los Angeles County ordered that everyone stay at home except for essential activities like buying food, getting medical care, taking care of someone, or going to an “essential” job. Later that evening, California issued a similar order.

But something was unclear: The county specifically mentioned that the guidelines didn’t apply to just going out to walk your dog, hike, or get exercise as long as you maintained your distance from other people and didn’t try to use facilities that were closed, like playground/gym equipment. The state didn’t.

And while I’m reasonably certain that we’re not at the point where they’re going to be arresting or fining people just for walking around the block, I don’t want to be like the guy who explained to Italian police that “I have to hunt the Pokemon” when they charged him for breaking quarantine.

State officials clarified it to the press on Friday:

“Californians can still go hiking and biking outdoors without violating Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “safer at home” order issued Thursday, state officials say. Though many activities have been curtailed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, going outdoors isn’t one of them.”

Good – that explains why South Coast Botanic Garden sent out the notice that they were still open for hiking despite cancelling events. They have stopped taking payments at the gate, though, which is understandable.

And today the state’s official page on the directive features this clarification:

Can I still exercise? Take my kids to the park for fresh air? Take a walk around the block? Walk my dog?

Yes. So long as you are maintaining a safe social distance of six feet from people who aren’t part of your household, it is ok to go outside for exercise, a walk or fresh air.

For now, at least.

Flu in the time of Covid-19

Last weekend, after spending Saturday running errands and Sunday taking care of stuff around the house, I went out to de-stress with a photo-walk at the coast, taking pictures of shorebirds, waves, sailboats, sand patterns and a zillon tiny shells. On the way back I started feeling aches and chills, and by evening I had a 101-degree fever and felt kind of like Firestorm.

Everything has pointed to the flu, and it’s been manageable with home care, so I’ve been staying home all week, alternating sick days and remote work depending on how much I can handle each day.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 has continued to spread across the world. Literally the next day, Los Angeles County announced the first confirmed case of community spread. Events are being canceled left and right, schools and museums and even Disneyland are closing, whole countries have implemented quarantines, and it’s become blindingly obvious that it’s no longer possible to contain, we can only hope to flatten the curve and keep the pandemic from overwhelming the health system by hitting too many at the same time.

It’s been a really weird week to stay home sick with something else.

On one hand it’s been kind of a trial run, which is useful. Practicing the extra hand washing, distancing, trying not to get anyone else in the house sick, all that. But on the other hand there’s the understanding that I’m probably going to have to go through it again when one of us gets actual covid-19. There’s a part of me that wants to get it over with, like being sentenced to time served.

I’m not especially worried about us, since we’re reasonably young and healthy to start with, so we’re likely to recover if and when we get it. Probably without hospitalization. But I certainly don’t want to spread it to someone at greater risk, so I’m totally on board with remote working (post-flu) and avoiding crowds.

Still, I hope that there’s a gap between when I’m no longer wiped-out/contagious from the flu and any potential lockdowns in this area (general or just our house). I’d like to be able to do supply runs, though we’ve been building up a bit of a cushion on each grocery trip. I’d like to be able to pick up takeout from local restaurants while they’re open. I may need to pick up a new thermometer since the button on this one has gotten temperamental with all the times I’ve used it this week.

But mostly I want to be able to spend at least some time outside. I get cabin fever. Tuesday I was already pacing the living room between bouts of fatigue. Wednesday I was excited to walk to the mailbox. And that’s only after a few days. I don’t need to be around lots of people. I like outdoor solitude. Hiking nature preserves. Photo walks like the one I did right before the flu hit me. Even just walking circuits around the neighborhood. If I can keep doing that, this will be a lot easier to manage.