Monday, June 8, 2020

#MicroblogMondays: Pandemic updates

(A not-so-microblog post. ;)  ) 

We finally went to see Great-Nephew again this weekend. He is now 6.5 months old. He is eating solids like a champ, loves the swing & toddler pool his doting grandfather bought for him, is showing signs of teething, and is now CRAWLING and pulling himself up in his crib & playpen. 

We hadn't seen him since April 2nd (two months ago), or spent any meaningful time with him since March 7th -- almost THREE FULL MONTHS. Almost half of his life!  We haunt Instagram for new photos & videos posted by his parents or (occasionally) his grandparents, and get information & cute stories second-hand through dh's regular phone calls with BIL. 

Dh was ready for a return visit weeks ago. Me, not so much. Not because I didn't want to see him. (Definitely not that!!)  That first visit, on April 2nd, was devastating to me in a way I can't quite explain. It's one thing to sit at home in my cozy condo, away from the rest of the world and what's been going on, lulled by the monotony of day-to-day life in isolation. Being so close to the people we love -- and yet so far -- with a sheet of glass between us -- was excruciating. It was the reality of this pandemic, and everything we've been missing out on, hitting me like a ton of bricks. You can't carry on much of a proper visit from behind a glass door. All we could do was wave & call out to the baby for a few minutes while he gazed at us curiously -- and while the dog went nuts. Between the two of them, my heart broke into 20 gazillion pieces. For weeks afterward, every time dh proposed another visit, I told him I didn't think I could handle it. 

He finally wore me down. I have to admit, it was killing me, knowing just how much we've been missing out on. (And I didn't like the idea of him going to visit without me, lol.)  This visit turned out much better than the last one. I did get tears in my eyes when we saw the little guy sitting in his high chair, and the dog happily bounded over to greet us, tail wagging. The difference this time is we actually went in the house, although we quickly moved outdoors to the deck, where BIL has set up a miniature swing & slide for his grandson. We didn't stay more than half an hour, tops. Dh & I wore our sock masks, & we all tried to maintain an appropriate distance (much as I wanted to give everyone big hugs) -- all except for the dog, of course, lol.  He was happy to see us, albeit he didn't go quite as beserk as he did when we were there in April.  I think he may have been thrown off slightly by the masks. I'm sure the little guy was too -- he kept staring at us curiously. 

Next Sunday was supposed to be his baptism -- which is a big deal in an Italian family, and was supposed to include lunch after the church ceremony at a local banquet hall for about 90 (!) family members & friends. (I told you it was a big deal, lol.)  It was rescheduled to September -- but we found out last night that it's going ahead next week as originally planned -- but with just the two parents, two godparents (Younger Nephew & his wife) and priest in attendance. No party afterwards. Pre-COVID, I had already bought a book with a religious theme and gorgeous illustrations that I thought would make a nice baptism present. We'll wrap it up & take it over (along with a card & cheque) sometime next week, after the event itself. (Dh & I were Older Nephew's godparents, 31 years ago.)  

*** *** *** 

In a recent phone conversation, my mom said to me, “I guess you’re not coming home this summer.” Ummm, I guess not -- not as long as the numbers stay like this.  (Sorry, Mom. Sorry, Dad. :(  ) 

"Like this" = there have been 31,000+ total confirmed cases and 2,400+ deaths in the province of Ontario alone.  Only the province of Quebec has higher numbers than ours. The number of new cases per day here has fluctuated slightly, but has remained stubbornly stuck in the range of 300-400 new cases per day for the past 10 days or so. The number of current active cases has remained fairly steady for quite a while now, consistently between 3,000 and 4,000. The bulk of positive cases (67%) have been in the Greater Toronto Area, where I live. In the city of Toronto proper, there have been 11,835 cases & 883 deaths to date. In the nearby region where I live, there's been about 2,600 confirmed cases & 218 deaths total, 462 cases currently active. (Numbers current as of this weekend.) The premier just extended the state of emergency (first declared on March 17th) again, until June 19th.  

Theoretically, sure, we could head west to see my family. In practice, not quite so simple. Even if we wanted to fly (and I'm not sure I do, not yet anyway...), the domestic airlines are currently operating under reduced capacity and "abridged" summer schedules.  Driving would mean at least three 7-8-hour days on the road, staying in hotels for at least two nights. While there's not much difference between the Canadian & U.S. routes, timewise (both are about 21 hours total driving time, according to Google Maps), we'd probably have to take the Canadian route, over the north shore of Lake Superior, because the US/Canada border is closed until at least June 21st (and likely longer). (I have to admit that, even pre-COVID/protests/etc., I've had little desire to visit the U.S. so long as You-Know-Who is president. Perhaps after November...??) 

In any case, no matter how we eventually got there, Manitoba (the next province to the west, where my family lives) is still asking all out-of-province visitors to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. I don't see much point in making the trip as long as that's in effect. Their case load is minuscule compared to Ontario's, and they want to keep it that way. I can't say I blame them. 

It's infuriating & heartbreaking all round. I'll be missing my parents' 60th wedding anniversary in July (as well as my dad's 81st birthday), and while it was obvious early on that the big party (an afternoon "come and go" tea in the church basement) we'd talked about hosting for them wasn't going to materialize, I had hoped I'd at least be able to be there and maybe take them out for dinner along with my sister & her partner. 

I've resigned myself to the fact that I won't be going anywhere this summer. And am crossing all my crossables that the situation changes in time for me go home for Christmas, so I can celebrate with my family, as I have done every year for the past 60 (!) years...

*** *** *** 
Despite the stubbornly high continued rate of new COVID-19 infections, the provincial government went ahead and allowed all stores with a streetfront entrance ( = not within a mall) to reopen on May 19th, as well as a number of other businesses and services. (This week, they'll announce more specifics about what Phase 2 will look like, although they have not committed to a time frame.)  

Some people felt the government was jumping the gun, and that (as in some places in the States) people would start thinking it was "back to normal" and abandon social distancing efforts. Sadly, the numbers have borne this out. (See this post by Turia, who lives in the same metropolitan area as I do.) Dh says most people are wearing masks at the supermarket when he makes a grocery run, which is comforting. 

But, as we drove through the suburban sreets to BIL's house on Saturday night, I was taken aback by the numbers of people I saw standing relatively close together & chatting, unmasked, in yards & driveways. Groups of teenagers, walking down the street together (without masks, and not six feet apart).  I see plenty of this behaviour happening around our building too. I'm also seeing lots of photos in my social media feeds of groups of people -- some from other provinces or states, where the situation may be better than it is here -- but some not. I suppose some of these people could all belong to the same household -- but I'm sure some aren't. BIL's neighbours had a large number of guests gathered on their deck, chatting loudly and playing music -- none of them wearing masks.  Okay, I know it's safer being in the open air is safer than indoors (& I did think that perhaps we could have removed our masks when we were out there) -- and maybe I've just been holed up too long and am being paranoid -- but I can't help but feel people are playing with fire here. Sorry if I'm being judgmental. 

Part of me just mentally (if not literally) throws up my hands & thinks, "Okay, fine, it's your life and your health" --  but that's the problem -- it's NOT just theirs, it's also the lives & health of the people around them, and the people THEY are in contact with. I actually have little fear that we could pass on something to Great-Nephew, because we haven't been anywhere or been in close contact with very many people for the past three months. But BIL, SIL & Older Nephew have all been out working and shopping, far more frequently than we have (when we got there, SIL was showing Great-Nephew's mom the clothes she'd just picked up at the local Carters/Oshkosh outlet, which recently reopened). It's far more likely that WE could pick up something from THEM. 

It just makes me mad to see some people openly ignoring the guidelines/rules and doing whatever the heck they want -- dragging this pandemic further and further into the future -- while I (ever the guilt-ridden rule-follower) have been holed up in an 874-square-foot condo for most of the past three months, with little to no human contact other than dh -- waiting, waiting, waiting for the day when I'll get to see my aging parents, hug my family members and hold my Great-Nephew again -- and watching that day keep slipping further and further away...

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here


  1. I feel this frustration too. We are obeying all the rules and we keep waiting for some easing of the bubble. It's hard to watch so many other people act so cavalier. Even P calls them out when we're on our walks. She can tell what's not social distancing and she's not even 4 yet!

  2. I can feel how hard that was for you during the April 2 visit with your grand-nephew. I'm glad that this time felt so much better, and that you got some closer contact.

    Thanks for filling us in on the impact of covid on your province and others and how people are responding there. We, too, have been trying to figure out how to visit an aging parent who lives far away safely. Can it be done with airplanes? With motels and diners? Doesn't seem so. :-(

  3. It's hard to distance. I agree with you that I think many people have given up entirely, and though I understand I also know that we're expecting more spikes in cases from this. It's definitely something many don't want to think about.

    I am glad you got a chance to see your grand-nephew and I'm sorry that you're not going to be able to travel this summer to see your parents. It's all so hard, especially given that the threat is invisible to the naked eye.

  4. I would feel exactly the same way as you. 3-400 new cases a day is a lot! And so I wouldn't be flying, or going out or even shopping. And I have seen photos - from UK and US friends - of so-called socially distanced get-togethers. Clearly, people have been brainwashed into thinking that 50 cms is 2 metres! Because even if they were trying for 1 metre distances, they're not meeting it. It boggles my mind. And it always makes me think of those who are at risk, or who are doing their best to follow the rules despite how hard it is.

    I'm glad you saw great-nephew, and get how hard it is, but in the scheme of things, he won't remember the few months at this age that he and you missed together. Though I know you will. And I know it doesn't make it any easier.

    Sorry too you won't get to be with your parents this summer. A thought on their 60th wedding anniversary. When DH's parents celebrated their 60th, they got messages from the Governor-General (in place of the Queen) and I think the PM. It didn't happen automatically. Someone needed to notify the officials - a cousin who knew about this did it on behalf of DH's parents. I of course don't know if it happens in Canada, but if so, maybe you could arrange something like that as a surprise?

    1. It does happen in Canada too! -- Thanks for the reminder. We didn't think about it for their 50th. I believe most people arrange it through their member of Parliament's office. I'll ask my sister if she thinks it's something Mom & Dad would appreciate. We were going to chat this week anyway about presents (it's also my Dad's 81st birthday, two days before the anniversary). She has some ideas in mind for things & services they could use around the house.

  5. Covid fatigue is real. People are just tired of being careful all the time. A friend was commenting about NURSES who aren't wearing masks unless they're actively treating Covid patients. I'm the only one in my section (there are 3 of us) that wears the mask we're supposed to be wearing all day. So frustrating!

    I'm glad you got to see Great-nephew. It sucks that you will miss your parents' anniversary and your dad's birthday. I hope you'll get to make it there for Christmas (or perhaps even earlier!).

  6. Sending you love, and understanding for your frustration! We are in Phase Three, but I see SO MANY PEOPLE not wearing masks and standing close to each other and doing the outdoor dining thing but congregating around tables in larger groups... I feel like just because you CAN now do things doesn't mean you SHOULD. I am far more cautious than my friends, and Bryce is more stringent than I am! But everyone's like, it's okay, let's go to lunch, let's have a barbecue, let's get together. Nope nope nopeitty nope. But it sucks because I would love to see people and do more normal things. It just doesn't feel safe yet. I hope things start going in a better direction in your province, and that you can go see your family and celebrate belatedly all the milestones you have to miss for now. It just sucks, and I'm sorry.