Dear Diary

Life in the midst of a Pandemic

Face masks are a common sight now.

It has been a long time since I’ve written anything on this blog. Busy schedules left very little time for leisurely pursuits, like writing. However, we are living in unprecedented times and I thought I would be remiss if I didn’t record my thoughts on our life during this Covid-19 pandemic.

In February – early March, a new, highly contagious virus ravaging parts of China started becoming a concern as it started spreading to other parts of the world. Maybe it wasn’t unheard of for communist regimes like China to place their citizens in complete lock-down to control the spread of the virus, but when other countries like Italy started implementing similar measures, I started to take notice. “The United States is just weeks behind Italy,” they said. Soon, we would see closures of non-essential businesses across the board and orders for citizens to shelter in place.

When the stay-at-home order came down from the City & County of Honolulu on March 23, 2020, all of a sudden, our calendar started looking curiously empty. Prior to the advent of Covid-19, our lives had become so busy that we literally had something multiple things scheduled every day of the week. The mandate to stay-at-home/work-at-home was somewhat of a boon to this weary, introverted mama. Admittedly, we enjoyed having the time to focus on our family without having to be a slave to our calendar or feel guilty about reneging on obligations.

Needless to say, the feeling wore off. Soon enough, we missed being able to see friends and gather with family.

Living in the midst of a pandemic presented its own set of challenges to the previously mundane tasks of daily life. Getting groceries and other essentials became infinitely more difficult. Toilet paper, disinfectants, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, and grocery staples became rare commodities. Store shelves were bare. People were panic-buying and it is hurting everyone. Two months in and it is still difficult to find these items.

The constant flow of coronavirus-related news filled me with fear and made me believe that going out in public would surely cause me to contract the virus. Covid-19 lurked on every surface, lay in wait within asymptomatic carriers at the grocery store, even floated on the tradewinds if I dared to go out for a walk.

This fear prompted me to find alternate ways of getting our groceries. We used the Instacart grocery delivery service, although I figure by doing so, we were paying upwards of 30%+ more for our groceries than if we shopped for ourselves. I thought it was a small price to pay to protect the health of our family by limiting our exposure. We did this for about a month and a half, but as we saw the “flattening of the curve” and very few new cases occurring, I started cautiously heading back to the store to shop for myself.

Tomorrow marks two months since the stay-at-home/work-at-home order went into effect in Honolulu County and we are starting to see the easing of restrictions. Malls were allowed to reopen last week, churches may now hold in-person services, and restaurants will be able to offer dine-in services as of June 5. Of course, all of this comes with many restrictions and guidelines for keeping staff and patrons safe.

The 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers entering the state remains in place, but there are rumblings that this may be ending soon as well. Easing restrictions for travelers perhaps gives people the most apprehension, but for a state that is highly dependent on tourism, it is a necessary step for economic recovery. Our unemployment rate is 22.3%, third highest in the nation. Nevada, another tourism-dependent state, has the nation’s highest unemployment rate at 28.2%. Vegas has set a tentative date for reopening casinos on June 4.

I feel optimistic about things starting to return to normal, but realistically, I know that it will not be the “normal” that we have always known. It will be a new “normal” where you cannot kiss a dear friend on the cheek when you meet; you cannot give a fellow parishioner a hug during greeting time at church; and heaven forbid, don’t forget to wear your mask.

How have you been faring during this crazy time in history?

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