It’s alarming how much life can change in just two weeks. Last week, I shared that I had finally booked my two-weeks’ worth of accommodation to travel across the country. This week, I’m not even sure I can make it.
Am I still going? Absolutely. Will it still happen in May? Probably not. Las Vegas is on a 30-day lockdown and several other states and cities have put curfews in place to keep non-essential workers at home. How long will this necessary nationwide madness last? Guesses have ranged from April to August.
Lucky for me, I’m already a homebody. As I joked with a friend who texted me about how bored she was this morning:
Staying home and entertaining myself between exotic and adventurous vacations is my specialty. The less I spend running around Atlanta, the more I have to take me where I want to go.
For this and other reasons, quarantine has not been much different than any other time in my life and I’ve had to make very few changes. I’m happy I can say this, because right now, America is lagging terribly behind other countries when it comes to coronavirus recovery rates.
I'm looking at the COVID-19 map and the U.S. seems to have the 2nd worst death to recovery ratio right now. 176 people have recovered; 340 have died. Netherland is the worst with 137 deaths; no recoveries.
China, Iran, and South Korea seem to have the best recovery rates so far.
— Alexis Chateau 🇯🇲🇺🇸 (@alexischateau_) March 22, 2020
I tweeted that Saturday night, as of right now, America has reported 414 deaths and recoveries have increased by just two people. Netherland still has no reported recoveries and their death rate has climbed to 180.
As a high-risk person, that means I have to take a few extra precautions. Some of these are things I was doing all along, while others I didn’t do as frequently until now. I’ll add a note at the bottom for comparison with my pre-COVID-19-era life.
1. Working 100% From Home
Even though I quit working full-time hours at my side gig in 2018, I still showed up for just one shift at a different site every week until last Sunday. I did this because getting a loan on a self-employed income is always tricky. However, no loan was worth continuing to work with people who had no respect for time or to risk getting comfy with Miss Rona.
Before COVID-19: I worked from home 5 out of 6 workdays per week. I had an overnight shift at a college dorm in Atlanta every Sunday night.
2. Avoiding Crowded Spaces
When I need to make grocery runs, I go early in the morning when Kroger just swings its doors open. Workers are still restocking shelves and very few people are inside. I also know the busy periods for parks in my neck of the woods and which ones are isolated, so if I want to get some fresh air away from home, I know where to go to avoid people.
Before COVID-19: As a night-owl, my schedule is already the opposite of mainstream schedules, so places were hardly crowded when I went there anyway.
3. Condensing Errands
I had to change my oil, recently. It was a month overdue and when the COVID-19 zombies come running, I want to make sure Seth and I can make it up the hill in my neighborhood to escape! After the oil change, I headed straight to the grocery store. I try to condense all my errands into one day and one trip.
Before COVID-19: I used to leave the house just twice per week anyway: once for the Sunday shift and then gym and all my errands condensed into Tuesday.
4. Disinfecting the Car
While we’re on the topic of errands, I’ll tell you about my car. Seth gets disinfected before and after use every time. If I’m in a rush, I at least disinfect the steering wheel, controls, emergency brake, and gearstick. When I get home and have all the time in the world, seatbelts and the seats are next for cleaning. I used to use Lysol wipes before the hoarders took them all away; now I use a 70% alcohol solution for the interior.
Before COVID-19: I did this on Sundays while on my shift and then again when I got home Monday morning.
5. Discarding Clothes
If I’ve been outside in public spaces, my clothes come right off when I get inside and go into the hamper. I wash my hands as soon as I get in and I don’t sit anywhere or touch anything until the clothes are gone and I’ve taken a shower. I also wash my hair if it wasn’t fully wrapped up.
Before COVID-19: I already had a “no outside clothes inside” rule, so this wasn’t new, but I’m definitely more strict about washing hands as soon as I get inside.
6. Disinfecting the Home
I disinfect my entire workstation every morning before I go to bed. That includes the desk, laptop, my portable monitor, mouse, mouse pad, phone stands — everything. I also disinfect all the doorknobs, light switches, etc. at that time. Last on the list is the kitchen, which also gets a full disinfecting session before bed.
Before COVID-19: I did this once per week on Fridays. I might also clean the doorknobs whenever we take the garbage out.
7. Not Eating Out
My grandfather returned home at the end of February. On his last night in Atlanta, we went to our favorite Asian restaurant and ate ’til kingdom come. That was our last restaurant run. I no longer eat out; even my pre-work Taco Bell run on Sunday nights got cut out. Why? CDC reports that food service workers do not wash their hands as often as they should.
Before COVID-19: I knew this long before COVID-19, but right now it’s not worth the risk. At that time though, I used to treat myself to something after the gym every Tuesday.
8. Reducing Contact With Men
I find American hygiene to be questionable compared to what I’m used to in Jamaica, especially among men. The CDC says that only 65% of American women wash their hands after using a public restroom compared to an even worse figure of 31% for men and I believe it. When we first started dating, my husband asked me why he needs to use soap after peeing! I made him wash his hands every, single time before touching me since. I shipped him off to his mom, so he’s no risk to me.
Before COVID-19: Most of my friends are guys as you’re more likely to find adventurers among men than women. Thankfully, my two best guy friends here are serious hand washers who share my disgust, but … you know … social distancing!
9. Hospital Benefits
One of the big reasons I chose Nevada to move to is because it was one state where I could afford health insurance. There goes that idea at the time I might actually need it most. I’m currently uninsured in the middle of a health crisis. I did, however, recently buy hospital benefits, which will help to subsidize the cost at $1,000 per day up to 30 days if I am ever hospitalized.
Before COVID-19: I didn’t get the hospital benefits until shortly before I booked my trip. At the time, it was more about the risk of a car crash than a virus, but the benefits work either way.
10. Life Insurance
I like to be realistic and chances are, if I get this virus, I will die. One heart condition in the face of COVID-19 is already one too many. I imagine carrying the damage of four is a full-on death threat. So, about a week or so ago, I applied for life insurance. Death is a lot more bearable for those you leave behind when you give them insurance money!
Before COVID-19: I already named my beneficiaries for my bank accounts and investment accounts and will someday get around to writing a will, so this isn’t really new either.
All that said, I’m not living in any constant state of fear. I’m excited about the trip out west and have been proceeding with my plans as though no obstruction has presented itself. I might get lucky! Miss Rona might decide she’s sick of us and then go on her merry way. But, even if she sticks around and I have to push my move dates, that only gives me more time to save.
What are you doing to stay safe during the outbreak? Are you getting bored in quarantine? Share your answers with me below!