PANDEMIC! Blog from a plague year, part 3

Back in January 2020, I was working at the Sundance Film Festival. I didn’t have a lot of time to socialize, so most of my daily chit chat was with my roommate Marina, another projectionist.

Each morning we had breakfast and I updated her on the Coronavirus outbreak from the Guardian’s website. This probably started on the first morning we were there, January 22, when China confirmed 17 dead and 550 infected. These numbers were big enough to keep it in the news, and keep me reporting them. Wuhan was put under quarantine the next day. We weren’t particularly worried about ourselves – this was something happening in China, after all, and we were just in Utah with something like 120,000 film fans….

A week into the festival, the number of infected people in China was reported as nearly 10,000! Honestly, among this incredibly crowded film festival, I really didn’t have much face to face human contact. Maybe 8-10 people a day. Mostly I was sitting alone in the back of the theatre watching movies. Lucky me!

I continued to update Marina over morning tea and coffee. The first US cases were in her home state of Washington. The second was in Massachusetts. Like me, she lives out in the countryside.

By the time I got home on February 2, the first death outside China was reported, with 304 dead and over 14,000 infected in China. But you know, I didn’t worry about flying home. It didn’t cross my mind to be worried, actually. There were already a few cases in Boston.

I continued to read about Corvid 19 when I got home, thinking about my roommate each time (I still do! These breakfast updates were fun, in a dark way).

Slava and I had (still have!) tickets to France for April 9th. Slava wanted to visit our friends there for his birthday. We had a pretty long trip (for us) planned – two full weeks. I thought it would be a good idea to not spend two weeks with our friends – I’m one who tries not to wear out my welcome. Things were already looking bad in Italy by the end of February, but in classic Liz style, I decided it might be a good time to visit Venice, since it would be less crowded than usual. I made a (refundable) reservation at a hotel recommended by a friend. (Face it, I was right! This’d be a great time to go to Venice, if it weren’t for this darn Plague.) We went to Egypt in trying times. I was motivated to go because I heard it was safe, yet uncrowded. (true!) We’ve been dying to visit Venice, but we are scared of the crowds.

March 11, PANDEMIC! declared. Harvard, which hadn’t closed since the Revolutionary war when General Washington requisitioned the dorms for soldiers, shut down. Shit was getting REAL. I mean, during the ten years I worked there, we had 3 or 4 days that were canceled (due to blizzards).

Out here in the country, things started getting weird in mid-March. One of my jobs closed on the 12th. My other job wanted to go to shorter hours, but ended up just closing by the 20th. The governor ordered “non-essential businesses” to close on the 22nd. They kept the liquor stores open, fortunately for me, but closed the recreational pot shops to stop peeps from bordering states coming here to come here to stock up. Good idea, I guess.

Slava was having trouble social distancing. We had dinner at friend’s houses a few times, despite my better judgement. Our last dinner at friends’ was on March 22nd (just last week!). Then I laid down the law. Slava is still considering going out because he’s having trouble with this New World. Turns out he’s more sociable than me!

So after several discussions where I tried to drive the point home, Slava finally (I hope) got the picture when the building supply store stopped letting him in, taking his order from the door.

Places I’ve been over the past two weeks: grocery store (3 times), pet food store (2 times), our friend’s restaurant (1 time for sandwich takeout), Tractor supply (1 time), liquor store (1 time). We are used to grocery shopping every day for fresh food.

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