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March 24, 2020

COVID-19 update


This is going to be a bit disjointed, but I felt the need to get some thoughts down online. (It’s the easiest way for me to journal during this crazy time in the world.) We just started our second week of COVID-19-quarantine, and.... We're doing okay. I'm officially working from home as of Friday, which is much easier than Stephen working from home with Charlie and me working in a office feeling stressed about how hard Stephen’s day must be, trying to balance a baby + his work. 

This is also our second week of statewide school dismissal. Originally, the dismissal was supposed to last two weeks, but we got word today that we will be out of school until at least Friday, May 1. Last Monday and Tuesday, everyone was working in their regular buildings (except for our school daycares, which were closed). Teachers were supposed to use those two days to transition student learning to be remote as of last Wednesday, March 18. Wednesday was supposed to be the day when we would begin remote learning, give laptops to students at schools, etc. But then.... We had a 5.7 earthquake in Salt Lake County (epicenter in Magna), and it flipped everything even further upside-down. (Seriously; just when we thought things couldn’t get worse during a global pandemic.... They did.)

Work is crazy, and the world is falling apart. It’s hard to find basics at the grocery store, especially things like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, water bottles, and Clorox wipes. Sadly, some crucial essentials like diapers, baby wipes, and formula are also hard to find right now, as well as pantry staples like flour, sugar, milk, etc. Many are hoarding these supplies, and it’s making things hard for a lot of people. The photo above is from a couple of weekends ago. My mom sent it to me from a shopping trip to Sam’s Club, but it’s the same in almost every grocery store.

Last week was tough with everything that happened. Stephen says it was the hardest and longest week of his life. We’re full of economic uncertainty, worries for our jobs, our duplex, our health. But I already feel like this week has gotten off to a better start. 

Everything has been cancelled (sporting events like the NBA, NCAA tournaments, the Olympics, etc.; musicals; concerts, etc.), including Church. Last week, Governor Herbert shut down all restaurant dining rooms. Many places are now only open for take-out, curbside delivery, or drive-thru dining. And we have been asked to practice social distancing. We’re advised to stay home unless it’s essential that we go out (like to go to work or to buy food). If we have to be around other people, we’re supposed to keep six feet of space between us, and we’re supposed to limit groups to no more than 10 people. Those who are 60 years of age or who have pre-existing health conditions are considered high risk for COVID-19, so these guidelines are especially important for them. It’s infuriating how many people aren’t taking these guidelines seriously.

Charlie y Mami at Costco on Friday, February 28. We were at Costco stocking up on essentials. We didn't know how bad things would get but had a feeling it would be smart to buy a few things we knew we'd need. At this point, water and toilet paper were already out of stock... (I actually went shopping for my mom two days later at a Costco 45 min. north and found empty shelves where sandwich bread and toilet paper should have been.)
Stephen thinks I’m a little paranoid, and he might be right. We’re still encouraged to get outside for things like walks around the neighborhood, as long as we keep 6 feet of space between ourselves and other people. I am not afraid to go off trail (we typically take our walks along the Jordan River Trail behind our house) when someone passes us and is not six feet away. I’d rather be paranoid and healthy than careless and sick/dying. 

As far as work, since the earthquake (the district office has not been earthquake retrofitted), we are mostly all working from home, but we still have some employees out at schools. We are still providing breakfast and lunch to students + emergency food boxes for families (working with the Utah Food Bank, SLC Mayor, and Church of Jesus Christ on this). And in addition to food +all the work that teachers did in the buildings last week, we've been checking out laptops the last few weekdays to students who don't have computers at home. 

With regard to the earthquake, I’m not gonna lie: it was a little nerve-wracking, especially since I vividly remember the earthquake my family survived in California in 1994. (That's actually the reason we moved to Utah.)

Stephen was already awake and working downstairs. I had nursed Charlie in our bed about a half hour before the earthquake (it hit at 7:09am), so he was asleep, and I was up answering emails on my phone. I grabbed him and ran to a doorway (which you're apparently not supposed to do anymore. Oops.). Grabbing my baby mid-earthquake made me think of my mom and how she grabbed Jason upside-down in 1994 and then also made sure we two little girls were safe. That must have been so stressful!

As soon as the earthquake stopped (it lasted about 20 seconds), I went downstairs to find Stephen. Then, I called my family. And in the middle of family calls, I started getting work calls and texts. 

We already had staff and families at schools that morning for breakfast, prepping for laptop check-out, emergency food boxes, etc. We had to get word out to principals to get everyone out of the buildings. The superintendent cancelled all food programs, laptop check-out, etc, until we could check the buildings for damage, so we had to let families and employees know ASAP. It was crazy!

And then an hour later, I had to report to work for a leadership meeting. 
That was the hardest part -- having to leave my family right after an earthquake. I was late to the meeting, but I was NOT going to leave without at least nursing my baby first. 

The after-shocks throughout the day were also anxiety-inducing. But we're trying to be prepared and stay hopeful. It's really hard not to feel super anxious all the time though. We’ve felt after-shocks every day. I think I read in the news today that as of this afternoon, we have experienced 280 after-shocks.

The day of the earthquake, I kept thinking that all the TP and water bottle hoarders and how maybe they had the right idea all along. ­čśé(We have a bidet in our master bathroom, and we had recently bought TP at Costco, so we haven't bought any more toilet paper during the pandemic. And we figure we have water in the tap, so we have two cases of water bottles but haven't been hoarding that either.)

That day, we filled up our bathtub with water (just in case), and Stephen loaded our 72-hour emergency food, snacks, a case of water bottles, and Charlie’s bags into the back of the Prius. Our emergency kits are in desperate need of being updated. I was going through them last night, and oh, boy. We had soup cans in there that expired in 2015.... Whoops! That’s one of my goals for the week — make sure our 72-hour kit is updated and ready to go with useful items for all THREE of us. 

On a brighter note, it has been really nice to slow down our pace of life and to spend so much more time together, especially with Charlie while he’s still so little! What a privilege to be his mother and to get to spend this time with him! He learned to crawl the week before we started our “quarantine,” and he is just constantly on the move! It’s made it a little more challenging for working from home, but we are so proud of all his progress! On Saturday, he stood in his crib for the first time, so we lowered his mattress. Today, he stood in the crib again for the first time since the mattress was lowered. He is such a happy, sweet guy, and we feel so lucky to be his parents.

I also live for sunshine walks with my boys every day. I’m glad we’ve had sunshine most days so far, because the sunshine lifts everyone’s spirits.

I don’t know what our immediate future holds, but I’m trying to cherish this time at home, to not look at the news/social media so much (there’s nothing in good in the news right now, and that increases my anxiety), and to find gratitude where I can. So today, I’m grateful for home church, for Stephen who is able to bless and administer the sacrament for our family on Sundays, for the ability to work from home, for my job, for my family, and for our health.

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