Give or take, it's been a century of days.
It's been about 100 days since 16 March, which was our last day before everything was shut down. That was the last day we went to our offices. It was the last day the kids were in day care or school. It was, for a while, the last day of our "normal" lives.
We've had lots of time to reflect on what that normal meant, and what it means now.
Then we usually had five or more days of activities out of the house each week. Work for the adults, school or day care for the kids all week long. And then shopping, errands, visits, lessons, sports, or other events on the weekends. Too many times a week we'd eat out at restaurants, or bring home some take-out as traffic pushed commutes too close to bed time. We didn't really plan a lot of things too far ahead for meals or simple needs, because we could always zip out and grab whatever we'd need.
We started the new mode because of a desire to help everyone prepare for disaster. The way the virus had been spreading, and has spread since even with precautions, showed it could easily overwhelm our ability to care for those that got the worst of it. Our companies and schools shuttered, and direction from the governor to close restaurants and most stores and other establishments, really meant there was nothing to do anyway. The weather wasn't great yet, so hiding inside was fine, although lined with uncertainty and fear. It sounded like it'd be a few weeks at first. Not until the virus was handled, but until the systems could handle the effects of the virus. And that had difficulties, so things postponed. We didn't mind, as our office routines shifted, and the schools were still closed.
Things across the country started opening up. Driven in part by cabin fever, encouraged by nice weather, and because that first-stated goal of helping the healthcare system seemed to be complete. Our state has tremendous capacity compared to that first day, and can handle a huge surge of hospitalization and critical care cases. But even with good social distancing practices, cases kept rising. Deaths still occurred. We stayed home.
In the last month, we've calmed down a lot from other social unrest. Made worse by the virus, certainly, but spurred on by senseless violence and death, caused by our should-be protectors, the police. In our city and others around the country, people were being killed in clearly avoidable ways. The viral video of the murder of George Floyd caused such an uproar, that riots occurred. Our city was on military-assisted lock-down, with curfews at dusk, and APCs in the streets. And we weren't alone. This happened across the country for the same reasons, or in support of our uproar. And similar things for similar and other reasons in cities around the world.
It isn't over. The riots have ended. The protests that remain tend to be peaceful. Or the news cycles have turned. Sometimes it's hard to tell. But a new dialog has opened. We're having all kinds of awareness talks at my company and in my community. They're trying to change the way police work, in some cases by shutting down the police force itself. I disagree with that, but certainly believe huge reform is necessary. Loss of life, and even injury, needs to be handled as or more critically than when a regular person does it. People have grimaced, but the military, with all of its might, has very adversary-favorable rules of engagement, outside of actual war zones. But even in war zones, there are rules. Police sometimes literally get away with murder, or manslaughter if you prefer. They have tools and training and support that allows this, and that needs to stop. Systemic abuse by police and business need to stop. I don't know if or how reparations would be made, but maybe that needs to happen, too.
In the last week or so, it's just been a work-from-home summer. The kids have fallen into an escape-from-the-house-early routine, which gives them free reign of neighborhood parks. They tend to get snacks or breakfast out, and picnic at the park, and run and slide and swing and play. This gives me a couple hours to get through morning meetings. I can help a little when they're home, especially between meetings, but the mornings are booked, so that helps me a lot, too.
The after work times start a little earlier. When the last meeting is done, I step away from the laptop. I keep my phone and tablet handy, and chat or take calls as needed, which tends to not happen. I return to the laptop if I have to, which happens even less. We play some, do some little chores, and even get out for another round of park stuff sometimes. Dinner, baths, bed, and all that would normally happen after work, happen pretty normally, except we don't eat out or shop much. We do take-out sometimes, and we'll swing by for a pick-up. The kids haven't been in a store since this started, and the parents haven't gone inside often, except for the odd re-stocking run of things we can't have delivered or brought outside for us.
Our discussions have turned from healthcare system strength and even protests, to cautiously injecting other "normal" things. Our local pool is opening with restrictions and care next week. Adding that for an early or mid-day visit would help with new play, and keeping swimming skills up. Swimming lessons are being offered with some changes, like parents in pool, spread out classes, and smaller classes. We've recognized that we could probably safely meet with other people or families who have been as comfortably social-distance responsible as we have. If we only visit with other sheltered family and friends, it's like we're all still sheltered, right? Some, not a lot. I did go on a motorcycle ride with a friend, and we're both still fine. The neighbors on both sides have had frequent visitors, sometimes to our chagrin and dismay, and they're all fine.
Our state is on a decline. There are still new incidents reported, but the trend is down from the May peak, by about half. Still staggers and bumps, but likely related to reporting swells more than infections. We haven't seen a surge or new incline like California or Texas have. But still, caution is our mechanism.
We've reflected on the other pandemics recently. This one is different in that there is, despite a missed message, a period of time where an infected person can be contagious before they demonstrate or recognize symptoms. We didn't do more than keep a little distance when SARS and MERS came around before, but people got sick first, and contagious later, mostly. We still went to work and school, even though they didn't have vaccines.
It's really the ease with which this coronavirus seems to be able to spread, without knowing the ill are around. It isn't new or unique that it's spread by just breathing. We get colds as easy, or the flu. Sometimes you can see them coming, because they look a little weathered or are sneezing, but not always. This one has affected 9 million people on the planet, and you know they weren't all running into people with sweaty foreheads and coughs.
And even if 80% of those infected "only" have similar affects like the flu or a cold, there's the uncertain other damage, or what happens after you've "recovered." We have older neighbors, co-workers, and family members. It's unclear if or how long you might be "clear" after recovering. It might be out there, but we haven't seen that once-sick but now-recovered people are not contagious.
We continue to speculate on what the return to school and office will be like. How long will restaurants be different and careful? What kind of lens are we going to apply when we want to visit? What happens when the weather turns? And the fall politics show is going to start soon. What's going to happen with all of that?
So, these are our new normal things.
It's been about a hundred days. Almost a third of the year. All of spring, and it seems like at least all of summer will be with this over our heads. It'll easily be a hundred more. Heck, my company doesn't want me and mine to return until after Labor Day. That is, if they don't extend it later. And that depends on schools as well as the virus.
Everyone is healthy.