Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Corona (not the beer)

Mel posted about the coronavirus, and how hard it is to know just how worried we should be. I thought I would expand a bit on my (already overly lengthy, lol) comment on her post.

Over the past 15-20 years, I've had brushes with SARS (Toronto was the epicentre of the North American outbreak in 2003) & the H1N1 flu scare in 2009 -- so I’m feeling a bit of deja vu here. The new coronavirus (covid-19) does seem to be more widespread, though, with the potential to affect many more people.

I am not overly concerned (yet) -- but I am trying to remember to wash my hands more frequently & all those other common sense things we really should be doing all the time anyway. (Who knew we touched our faces so often, right??)  Both Purell & face masks vanished from the drugstore shelves several weeks ago when the virus was first reported in China (there were reports of people buying up cases of both to send to relatives there), but so far, no panic buying of food & other supplies in the supermarkets, etc. (a blogging friend posted a photo on social media of the completely empty store shelves at her local Walmart store in Minnesota!).

We don’t have a lot of space here in our condo to buy & store food in bulk, and our refrigerator freezer compartment is not that big. But right now the freezer is full of meat and other stuff -- and we just did our weekly shop so I feel fairly well stocked up.  (I've always liked to keep a fairly well-stocked pantry, but dh doesn't see the point, particularly when space is limited. He prefers to just go out & buy whatever we need when we need it. But what if you're quarantined and can't go out?  Or the stores run out of things?)  I just bought a new bottle of Lysol spray cleaner and a cannister of Lysol wipes a few weeks ago, as all this started unfolding. And I did buy a new bottle of Tylenol and some cold pills at the drugstore today (the ones I had in my medicine cabinet had passed their expiry dates).  And another bottle of Immune for my essential oils diffuser, and an Immune rollerball from Saje, lol.

We don’t have an actual emergency box or kit put together -- but we do have a lot of the recommended items on hand.  After the big power blackout of August 2003 (which affected much of eastern North America), I bought a hand-cranked radio with a built in flashlight. I also vowed not to give up my landline (WITH a corded phone), after too many people told me their cordless phones were useless without power, and their cellphone battery eventually died.

We missed the effects of the big ice storm here in Toronto over Christmastime 2013 -- but I was visiting my parents last October for (Canadian) Thanksgiving -- just in time for a major blizzard/ice storm, which knocked out the power (and thus also the heat) for 27 hours. We also lost water, cellphone AND landline service. We were just lucky it was -2C outside and not -20C or worse! I bought a few more flashlights, batteries & a case of bottled water for our condo after that one, lol. My sister has been house hunting and says she never wanted a fireplace before this, but now she’s feeling like it might not be such a bad thing to have, lol.

One thing I started doing in 2009 when H1N1 was a concern was wiping down all the things I touch most frequently, at home (and at the office, when I was working), at least once a week, with a Lysol or Clorox wipe -- door handles, light switches, phones, remotes, keyboards, etc. And you know what? -- the number of colds I’ve had since I started doing that has dropped dramatically! (Not completely, but noticeably.) I’ve been doing that as part of my regular weekly cleaning routine since then, but I may step up the frequency a bit over the next while, depending on how things shake out.

All through SARS & H1N1, we continued to ride public transit into work, winding our way through the commuter crowds in Union Station and up the PATH (the underground concourse that connects all the big office towers in downtown Toronto).  Being retired, we no longer have to go out every day and cross paths with literally thousands of people every day -- although we do go out, several times a week, to shop, mall walk, have lunch, etc. -- we'd get pretty bored/stir crazy if we didn't!  But it's nice to be able to avoid the larger crowds and limit our exposure to germs -- and to have the option to stay home if we want.  SIL & I are scheduled to attend the Elton John concert downtown in late March (along with about 20,000 other people...!), which would also entail a subway trip downtown & back. I guess we'll worry about that closer to the time.

How is the coronavirus affecting you (or not)? 


  1. As I said to Mel, the only way it is affecting me is uncertainty about travel. I don't want to risk spreading anything unwittingly to my niece who, with Cystic Fibrosis, is very vulnerable to respiratory illnesses. And an anniversary trip back to Thailand is on hold until we see how this all plays out.

    Like you, we can self-isolate quite easily, but we were out the other day, and whilst I wasn't bothered (at the time we had no confirmed cases in NZ), I did become very aware of how many times I touch my face! Our major concern would be FIL, who is very dependent on us if we got sick. Though DH is planning on stocking him up with some of his food supplies so he could go a week or so without us. And he gets daily healthcare visits, which would be a prime way to spread disease amongst the elderly and vulnerable. But he's at risk without them, so we can't stop them either.

  2. I hope the concert won't be cancelled. It seems like lots of big events are being cancelled here lately. So far we haven't been affected too much but I am hoping to travel to Ireland in a few months and right now hubby doesn't want us to book any flights. So I really hope things get better over the next few months

  3. I don't know whether we're overreacting or not reacting enough. This whole thing is changing by the day. I was supposed to be in Texas this week for last weekend's AWP writers' conference and a visit with friends, but at the last minute, I decided not to go. It just didn't seem worth it. I guess we'll all have to wait and see.