So begins the first full week of the country trying to keep its distance. But first we must stock up.
This was the Publix Supermarket in Pinecrest, Florida, yesterday morning at around 7 a.m. That’s when I usually do my shopping — early Sunday morning — and usually I have the place all to myself. Yesterday it was as busy as a Saturday morning at 10, and the shelves in some aisles — specifically the bread aisle — had yet to be restocked. The shoppers’ carts were full of everything from paper towels to bottled water, and a few people were wearing surgical masks. It was orderly, but as I was taking my bags out to my car a woman pulled up in a car and asked me what it was like inside. Pretty crazy, I said, and she laughed.
The CDC is recommending cancelling events for more than fifty people for the next eight weeks, which takes us to the first week of May. Miami-Dade County Public Schools is closing for spring break a week early starting today, and then will see how it goes after those two weeks before deciding what to do. I spoke with a friend — via text — who still works for the district and was told that management are to come in while administrative staff are off, and teachers are figuring out how to teach via the internet. I suspect Zoom and Skype are going to get a lot of new subscribers.
What I’m seeing via social media — mainly Facebook — is that we as a nation are coping with this pandemic pretty well. Yes, there’s the usual amount of rumormongering and bullshit, but so far the people I’ve seen and heard from are taking it in their stride, dealing with family issues, adjusting to this situation with concern but also with humor. The unifying point seems to be that they’re all pretty disgusted with how the current administration is dealing with it — or not dealing with it — and they’re finding that they can pretty much count on friends, family, and themselves to be ready for what comes.
It’s not like a hurricane where you can get hourly updates and track it as it looms closer. It’s invisible and undetectable. In a lot of ways that’s scary, but in one way it shows that we can work together and keep our heads about us while some others are losing theirs. In a way, all this social distancing is bringing us together, and I don’t man by just fighting over the last roll of Charmin. We’ll get through this and maybe emerge better for it, assuming we all follow the guidelines and stay healthy.