Tag Archives: Covid-19

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.

Sorta Open. Maaaybe. If You’re Careful.

I mentioned last week that Manhattan Beach had closed all their parks outright, rather than just closing equipment and facilities. Over the weekend heat wave, they reopened at least Polliwog Park, taking down the caution tape from the perimeter and instead wrapping individual playgrounds, gazebos, sculptures and even picnic tables with metal fencing.

And signs. Signs and fences everywhere.

Park with signs for pandemic rules and fences around everything.

I’d been able to see at least some of the signs from the side of the road last week, reminding you of the Covid-19 mantras: Cover your face. Keep six feet apart. Stay home if you’re sick.

And then there were signs like the one above explaining that yes, the park open again — but only on a trial basis, and you have to follow the rules! There was even a police car parked on the lawn to show they meant business, though I’m not sure where the officer was. It’s a big park.

And then there were these, posted on all those portable fences.

Empty playground with a temporary fence and a sign reminding you just how long the coronavirus can last on surfaces like, well, playground equipment.

Some cities around here have just wrapped their playgrounds in caution tape. Manhattan Beach wants to make sure you know why it’s closed.

Even the interactive art installations.

Red gate/ring sculpture/bench with a fence around it.

…Or Was It?

With more symptoms being added to the list for Covid-19, I’m beginning to think I should have gone in for a flu test when I had the flu at the beginning of March. At the time, chills, muscle aches and headache (and lack of coughing) seemed like a clear “not Covid” indicator. I was staying home anyway — I didn’t want to give anyone the flu, either. And I figured as long as it was treatable with home care, I wouldn’t waste time and doctors’ resources on a flu test to tell me what I already knew. Or thought I did.

Not that I would have been able to get a Covid-19 test, even if the flu test turned out negative. This was about a week before California started locking things down. Tests were still in short supply. I hadn’t traveled to China or Italy, or been in close contact (as far as I knew, anyway) with anyone who had. I wasn’t coughing or short of breath. All I had was the fever and a bunch of other flu-like symptoms that weren’t recognized as Covid-related.

That said, one key piece of evidence still points to the flu: I managed not to give it to anyone else in my family.

We kept our distance, washed our hands a lot, and made sure I didn’t cough or sneeze at anyone or on anything. But we continued to share space in the apartment.

See, in a small apartment you can’t do the level of isolation that a lot of articles have suggested. I wasn’t locked in a red zone alone. Food wasn’t delivered furtively, with a mask and gloves that were immediately dropped as soon as the door closed. We didn’t disinfect everything as it left the room.

If it had been Covid-19, everyone else would have gotten it too. Especially since I would have already been contagious for at least a week before symptoms hit.

But it would be nice to know for sure.

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.

Welcome to the Park. Now Stay Away (From Each Other)

Baseball field with a sign on the fence saying ATTENTION: STAY 6 FEET APART

There’s a difference between “going out” to a destination or event, and “going outside” for fresh air or exercise. The first is more likely to land you in the kind of crowds that can help spread the pandemic. The second can usually be done while still keeping your distance from people. Depending on how easy that last part is, some regions have locked down “going outside” much further than others.

Here in the South Bay suburbs of Los Angeles, it’s a patchwork. Everyone’s closed the beaches and piers. Manhattan Beach has closed all its parks outright. Torrance and Redondo Beach have closed playgrounds, fitness equipment, and sports facilities, but have kept most city parks and fields open for now — with reminders everywhere to stay six feet apart and wash your hands.

Not that I would count on the bathrooms actually having soap.

And I certainly wasn’t going to check if I didn’t have to. I’ve been trying to avoid touching anything on these walks, even walk signal buttons if I can plan a route that bypasses them.

Children's playground with caution tape around it.

They wrapped caution tape around the playground. Just imagine one asymptomatic kid shedding viruses all over the playground equipment, while a bunch of other kids climb on that same equipment and forget they’re not supposed to touch their faces, then take that virus home and pass it along to everyone in their family.

Park rules sign, with added 6-foot personal space, and Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands

The park wasn’t totally deserted, though these photos certainly give that impression. There was a couple playing catch near one corner of the field, a family with kids doing batting practice over at another corner, an older man sitting on a bench while his dog explored the grass, a family with kids on bikes and scooters (at least one of the kids was wearing a face mask), and so on. People walking or biking past, either solo or in pairs. And me, pausing every minute or so to take pictures for iNaturalist, catch Pokémon, or fight Team Rocket.

But we were all keeping our distance from each other.

Even the kids on scooters.