I think if one looks back through history, every generation likely encounters an event that changes the way the world works for them, that makes them re-think their assumptions and ways of doing things. For my grandparents’ generation it was World War II and the Great Depression. For my parents’ it was probably 9/11. And for mine it will likely be COVID-19.
Last night our president addressed the nation and declared a national disaster.
Our borders are now closed to foreign nationals from high-risk countries, including the US and Europe – I was supposed to be in San Diego right now hanging out with my team, returning home on Thursday, via Amsterdam. As a South African citizen the ban doesn’t apply to me, but the thought that I might have arrived home after ten days abroad just to be prohibited from returning to my family and placed in quarantine instead… Luckily the trip was called off just a few days before I was due to leave exactly due to concerns about a situation like this.
While we can still go about our lives as normal for now, gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited, so probably no church this Sunday. I’d be sad about that, except that since learning of the first confirmed case in our town today, the idea of voluntary self-isolation to protect my family from exposure suddenly doesn’t seem so extreme as it did yesterday.
I had to go into town quickly today, and it was surreal to be greeted at the entrance to the mall by a security guard with a bottle of hand sanitizer. Curious how something like that can be at the same time comforting and disconcerting – I don’t think I’ve ever experienced those two emotions at the same time before.
(I had opportunity to stand watching the entrance for a while, and quite a few people were noticeably confused at being expected to wash their hands before they could enter the mall. I guess ignorance is bliss.)
I’m happy to say that as of this morning there was still lots of toilet paper available in the supermarket. In fact, not only were the shelves full, but the stuff was stacked on the floor between the shelves. (Perhaps the supermarket is just preparing for the demand to come…)
On the other hand, construction companies have reportedly been struggling to get dust masks as no one has them in stock, and at the butcher’s employees were using disposable mop caps as face masks. Apparently anything covering your nose and mouth will do to make you feel secure. Though judging by the number of people I saw who had the caps positioned under their noses that might be a false sense of security.
I mentioned the first case in our town was confirmed today. A kid at my niece’s school. This has very suddenly moved very close to home.
If you’re in South Africa, and a WhatsApp user, click on 0600-123456, or add that number to your contacts and send it a message saying “hi”. That, along with this website, are the official channels for government communication around the pandemic.
Facts are our friends. Stay away from fake news (like a video someone shared on a WhatsApp group today claiming that eating bananas will protect you from getting sick). Wash your hands, be wise, and don’t let your arrogance or ignorance put you or those around you at risk. One would think these things are common sense, but we all know common sense is not all that common.
I have a feeling my daughter will be much more conscientious about washing her hands than I ever was growing up.