You know how people say, “this is not my first rodeo”? Well, this is very obviously my first pandemic. I am all discombobulated. And then there is the pressure about what to write here. I worry that some sort of social historian of the future is going to look at all the things that we wrote and all the memes and whatnot and draw some sort of scholarly conclusions about our time. Or will judge us. Do I want the judgement of the future? No, I can not deal with any more judgement.
So the pandemic is getting off to a pretty shaky start. Pandemic noob that I am, I really don’t have a handle on how exactly this disease is transmitted and what the relative risks are. There was a lot of hype about hand-washing and hand sanitizer and not touching your face, which made it really seem like virus-touching was what we needed to be worried about. A lot of news about surfaces. It can remain on copper for 4 hours, cardboard for 24 hours, stainless steel for anywhere from 2 to 120 hours, plastic for 72 hours, and cruise ships for 408 hours. I do not have any cruise ships in my home, but I definitely have a lot of cardboard and plastic, much of which has arrived lately because I have been having things delivered.
Now the virus buzz seems to be pivoting to invisible floating clouds of virons. Some internet source that I will never be able to find again asserts that virus-touching is not a big deal but that virus-breathing is a much bigger deal than we had originally been led to believe. Still worse, it claims that the invisible cloud of virus extends not just a polite social distance of six feet away but rather a more troublesome 15 feet away. And that it can linger for three hours. And that the virus-spreaders might not even know that they are the source of a cloud of virus.
I am trying not to have inessential stuff delivered. My goal is to stay pretty close to the minimum amount of stuff that I will need and not buy more than that. Not only does that make it easier for other people to get what they need, but I do not want warehouse and delivery staff to need to leave their homes any more than necessary. Nor do I want any more people than necessary breathing near my front door.
We ordered groceries to be delivered today. This I can justify because clearly we need to eat, and we ordered sane amounts of normal groceries. And, knowing ourselves, we did not order the sort of produce that goes bad quickly in your fridge. After bringing the grocery bags into the house, I started washing the the food before putting it away. The virus-touching science seems to be somewhat unsettled at this point, so it seemed safer to wash everything. Never did figure out what to do about the eggs because our egg cartons are all made of a fragile cardboard (maybe wait 24 hours?) that disintegrates in water. Worse yet, I made a terrible rookie mistake in my grocery-washing, and I was spraying my food with soapy water, based on the internet animations of soap molecules having both polar and non-polar ends and, thus, disassembling some sort of lipid structure of the virus. However, I later realized that my blasts of soap were spattering off the surface of the groceries and sending droplets of who-knows-what into the air. I think that I could recover from this error because my city only has 20 COVID-19 patients in intensive care right now, which means that if I get sick from my poor grocery-washing technique in the next few days that I should still be able to get medical treatment.
At this point I would like to remind you that the symptoms of panic attacks overlap with the symptoms of just about anything else that you might worry about. But that also means that you’ll need to decide if it’s the right time to stop dismissing your symptoms as “just a panic attack” and call a doctor.