Social Distancing, a journal

I started writing in my journal, but the pages are a little short so I thought I’d try transitioning to online. It’s not exactly about minimalism, but it is certainly around simplifying.

As everyone at this point knows, in Nov/Dec 2019, there were new cases of viral pneumonia that started popping up in Wuhan, China. It has since then spiraled out of control and is now global. The good news is that through China’s extreme control of social distancing and shutting down large portions of its economy and cities, they, for the first time since this began, did not have any new cases in 24 hours. Experts say that the outbreak there is not officially done until there have been 14 consecutive days of no new cases.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, it is getting worse. Italy had to close off all borders after trying less drastic measures that did not work. They put regions that were having massive outbreaks in lock down, however there appeared to be a mass exodus of people out of that region who were likely asymptomatic carriers. This spread it nationwide. Their country has essentially come to a stand still.

Where I live, downtown Raleigh, NC, USA, things are starting to pick up. Several people fro m Duke University who were international are coming back positive. An orthopedist in Charlotte is positive for COVID-19 (the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus first noted in China). I live in a large retail/living space in the warehouse district which is normally brimming with life. Given my job I am still working on site. Today I happen to be at home as I have a virtual conference. I was supposed to have flown to New Orleans yesterday and would have started the conference today, but of course that is not happening.

Across the country and the globe life has changed. As of 2-3 days ago, Gov. Roy Cooper has closed all bars and restaurants for dine-in though take-out and delivery is still available. People are working from home. Venues are closed, cinemas are closed. Grocery stores are limiting hours. I’d heard yesterday that some major retailers are opening up their first hour for high-risk groups to shop alone. Also, as of yesterday, pregnant patients are now considered high risk as they have an increased risk of severe disease. Since I still have a regular paycheck coming in, I am planing on eating out as much as I can. The food I have here I’m saving more for when all non-essential businesses are closed and restaurants are closed all together but hopefully that won’t happen. A lot of businesses may close, and a lot of workers have been let go or displaced temporarily. Luckily businesses like Amazon, warehouses, grocery stores actually need help right now. There is a greatly increased demand for online shopping and grocery store shelves are going empty. Don’t even get me on the toilet paper issue.

At home the amenity spaces are also closed. The lobby is closed and the office staff are no longer on site. We’re still getting mail so there are huge stocks downstairs of packages people have ordered. I’ve also noticed that the floors in my hallway have more debris than normal so I’m wondering if they’re not cleaning the floors like they had been. I’ve also noticed that the grass next to roads is getting COVERED in debris and trash. It is getting really bad, making me think that they are no longer cleaning that up.

Downtown life has drastically changed. The construction projects still appear to be going forward. Old 2-3 story buildings are getting demolished left and right down here. Buildings next door to Berkeley Cafe are now practically gone. Storefronts next to Vita Vite are gone. The cute, old, industrial sites are disappearing. Downtown Raleigh is rapidly losing its charm and is becoming just another group of high-rise buildings. Oh, it just occurred to me…all of these buildings were meant to be retail/residential. Who will be able to open up in the retail spaces?? Will Publix still be able to open up their shop in Smokey Hollow?

Busses are still running. People are out walking their dogs, going for runs, but gyms are closed. My workout space here is closed. The bustling city streets are now quiet. Right now I see a cute dog across from me out on the porch. He seems very interested in what’s going on in the next apartment lol. My cats have no idea anything is different other than I’m home more now. Parking spaces are empty and fewer people are out and about. It’s March. It will get to 80 today (much higher than the average) and I hope to see some people out, taking advantage of the weather.

People have gotten letters in the mail stating that power and water will not be turned off should you be late in paying bills. Creditors are also holding off on filing complaints and charging for not paying. There is talk of the President stopping interest on student loans. I would LOVE that. That would mean that while I’m getting paid, I can keep up my loan payments as I had been doing and start making a dent on my principal balance. There was something posted online about possibly forgiving front-line workers (ie medical professionals) loans, but I have very little faith that will happen.

Mostly there is a lot of fear and uncertainty. Kids are not in schools..will the schools still do end of year testing? Will they close daycares? (I hope not since parents who work need to have their children cared for. If they close daycares, where will the kids go? Either home with their parents, who risk losing their jobs, or to their grandparents where they cannot go as the elderly population is very high risk and children appear to be vectors of infection). What about graduation? What about colleges? What about medical schools and residency? The ACOFP gives an in-person OMT exam, but since the conference was cancelled, what will happen now?

So much is still unknown. Nothing like this has happened on this scale. There was the bubonic plague which was similar, but not as wide spread. Measles too. The most recent was the Swine flu (H1N1) in 2009/10, and before that 1918 Spanish flu. That one was seasonal and came back in the fall with a vengeance. Only time will tell what happens here.

As for what this blog will be? I still intend to keep posting about minimalism. Now more than ever we need to simplify our lives, take stock of what we have, and look within. I will also likely post about my experiences and everyday life. I may post about my own emotions and experience. I have different views and worries since I am a physician. I may also post with how I am coping with my worries and insecurities as it could help others. Journaling could help me to work through some issues but I’m not sure if the world at large would want to know what those are, so please comment below with your thoughts on this.

Stay well. Don’t touch your face, and remember to wash your hands.

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