There’s a sickness going around

Dear kids,

Before now, the last pandemic to have an affect on my life personally was the Swine Flu pandemic of 2009-2010. Even then, the effects were minimal. I received the vaccine, and did not become ill despite the fact that one of my co-workers at the time contracted it.

Now, we have COVID-19. Also known as coronavirus disease, novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The first cases of the disease in Canada were from individuals who had recently travelled to China, Iran, and Egypt, or had been in close contact with said travellers. As of now, there are five cases in Nova Scotia.

Shit started to hit the fan here during the second week of March. A pandemic was declared. Large gatherings cancelled, including sporting events (you know things are serious when Canada basically cancels hockey). Italy is the second most affected country after China, and the death toll is shocking (currently, about 2100). Justin Trudeau’s wife tests positive for the virus. Museums, farmers’ markets, indoor playgrounds, non-essential shops, and other venues close. Schools, universities and childcare centres are to remain closed until further notice. Disney World closed. Cruise lines cancel itineraries and suspend departures. People are cancelling their vacations and kids’ birthday parties.

Your father was advised to get tested for COVID-19. He did, and it took a few days for him to get a call with the (negative) result. The labs must be swamped. Since he had contact with us, we self-isolated until we got the all-clear. To be honest, I don’t plan on going anywhere unless absolutely necessary anyway.

It was hard explaining to you why we couldn’t visit your friends. I didn’t want to scare you. Daddy might be sick, and if he is, we could be sick too, and we don’t want to get your friends sick. There’s a sickness going around, and lots of people have it. No, not everyone in the whole entire world. But we should stay away from other people anyway.

Oliver, this week is supposed to be your March Break. You were supposed to be at camp. Now you and your brother have to hang out with mom & dad while we try to work from home. And both of you have another two weeks off of school/daycare after this week. At least.

On Thursday, March 12th, I left work a bit early to go to Costco. Someone was wiping down cart handles with a disinfecting wipe. It was very busy there; it reminded me of the days leading up to Christmas. The next morning, after dropping both of you off at school, I went to Superstore to get a few more things. The store is normally pretty quiet first thing in the morning. Not this time. I bought a few extra things to put into the food bank donation bin.

At Costco, there was no toilet paper. And no regular white paper towels. When I entered the store, I saw several carts with multiple packages of facial tissue and those big rolls of brown, commercial paper towels. I can understand not wanting to run out of toilet paper, but I don’t understand why it’s such a hot commodity in a pandemic. I’ve seen pictures; people were buying multiple Costco-sized packages of toilet paper. COVID-19 does not make you shit yourself.

Are the tissues and scratchy paper towels destined to wipe the asses of the masses, once the multi-ply goodness is gone?

Disinfecting wipes, hand soap, and hand sanitizer especially are also in high demand. I think some people are hoarding them and reselling them for a profit. Baby formula, too. Those people are assholes, and I hope they have to wipe their assholes with brown paper towels. And that their toilet backs up when they try to flush.

I had adequate Lysol wipes and hand soap already, thanks to months-ago Costco trips. If I do run out of toilet paper, I’ll make do. I have a bidet. And a shower. And fabric that I can sacrifice for the sake of personal hygiene. I did buy another jug of laundry detergent. I have the technology and the know-how to clean myself.

I haven’t been to stores since Friday morning. Friday the 13th. I heard stories that things only got worse. Bare shelves, lines around the building waiting to get in.

I’ve gotten countless emails from various places about the virus and what they are going to do (or not do). Local shops, movie theatres, indoor playgrounds, the banks, the grocery store chains.

I feel bad for people who are at risk for illness. For people who don’t have the resources to stock up on food and supplies so they can stay home. For those who have to leave their homes to go to work, and now have to find alternate care for their children. For those who have lost their jobs already.

I don’t know what to do. Stay put, I guess. Help my neighbours who need it. Keep sane. Keep my bum clean. I can do that, at least.