As of this evening, the county where I reside is under a lockdown and the New Jersey National Guard are activated and are on “high alert” with imminent orders forthcoming. Only businesses deemed “essential” like grocery stores and banks are open. In five minutes, as I write this, we begin an 8:00pm curfew.
Today actually marks the ninth day I haven’t left the house on a self-imposed quarantine, though it seems the government is about to enforce that.
I self-quarantined at the recommendation of a doctor in order to protect my partner who is immunocompromised with multiple sclerosis and is highly vulnerable having recently received low-grade chemotherapy.
Three days into the quarantine, we both ended up with sore throats, though it’s allergy season here.
Yesterday, I called Poison Control, which in New Jersey is handling all novel coronavirus testing. I let them know of our concerns, and they urged us to remain sheltered–as there are no tests available at this point, even still.
There are not enough supplies or hospital beds should our situation worsen, but for the moment, neither of us think we are too sick as we have no fever, only an occasional dry cough.
The lack of preparation is astounding but should not be surprising when the president tried to cut CDC funding, dismissed the NSC pandemic team, and is a liar who deserves to be removed from office before he declares the November election cancelled to fully envelope us in his obvious fascist takeover.
To be honest, as what’s happening sinks in, no matter how cynical you might be, I find myself still disquieted in a way I don’t know how to describe. My nerves are shaken deep. Even when I’m still and calm, something deep within is quaking. I don’t see this improving any time soon. I don’t know how many we’ll lose, or if I or those I love will be among them. One of the scariest stats I’ve seen so far came from a New York Times podcast that suggested of your 300 nearest friends and acquaintances, six of them could be dead when this all shakes out.
None of that even opens the can of worms that’s a broken economy, and an overly gunned-up country of people who live moment by moment in an “I’ve got mine” mentality. How will people respond to the military being in the streets, to enforced curfews? To markets crashing, mass layoffs? To being made homeless in this. Already, all day, we’ve received multiple amber alerts as panicking parents are taking children to be with them.
This moment, more than any in our countries history since the civil war, calls for a level of compassion at the systemic level that we do not know, isolated to our bigotry, our othering, our obsession with “blood and soil.”
I find myself looking, desperately, for moments that quiet the dread of all this: cuddles on the couch, getting lost in work, cooking, buying up penny stocks in biotech companies just for shits and giggles. Sometimes, for a moment, it works.
Earlier, we decided to take a walk outside, my first time leaving the house since this began. The wind was brisk. It felt more like autumn.
The street was empty and lit by a dim, orange streetlamp. We walked to the end of the street, turned around, and walked back home. It was maybe the best seven minutes of this whole last nine days.
There’s something odd about hearing the mourning dove sing, watching the trees sway and the sky change its beautiful colors–all as though none of what is happening is happening.
I’m grateful to have this little family, sheltered together, our silly black cat keeping us entertained. I cannot imagine having to do this alone, and the thought of it brings about this existential dread that leaves me speechless. For all the jokes I may want to crack about already being a loner, I weep for those I know may feel themselves completely alone in this, and it makes me all the more grateful for our troops who will soon, likely, be delivering food and medicine home-by-home if necessary.
Wherever you are, be well, play it safe, and don’t do anything stupid.