Tag Archives: Covid-19

Only a Test. (Whew!)

A couple of days ago I developed a cough and measured a fever. The cough has been very intermittent, and the fever went away after a couple of hours.

Still, I went for a Covid-19 test after measuring the fever, and we all went into lockdown mode just in case. No errands or walks. Just picking up the mail. Extra hand washing. Keeping physical distance at home. It could easily be a false alarm, but with cases surging, it seemed like a good idea to be certain.

All the drive-through centers in the area seem to be closed and I had to go to an urgent care. Instead of letting people in the waiting room, they were checking us in at the door, taking a phone number, and having us wait in our cars. An hour and a half later, they called me in. After checking vitals and symptoms, they actually had me swab my own nostrils with a q-tip and put it in a sample vial.

I got the results two days later through the network’s online portal: negative!

So with the cough and fever gone, and the coronavirus test negative, we can at least return to…well, whatever this is. It’s certainly not “normal.”

(This year has brought it home that “normal” doesn’t really exist – the world is in a constant state of flux, and what we consider “normal” are just local circumstances in time and space.)

But I can go back to daily walks (masked), drive-through and curbside pickup for errands (masked), and only having to keep my distance outside the house.

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.