Blogging through the COVID-19 crisis: Update 5


Hey friends, it’s been a hot minute since my last Corona check-in. It feels like time has been on pause and time-lapse at the same time, doesn’t it? I have been working from home since March 17th but who’s counting anymore (Me, apparently. It’s been 16 weeks, 108 days).

I am not really sure where to begin. I didn’t expect us to be done with the pandemic at this point, but I’d for sure have thought we’d be further along in getting it under control. Instead, we seem to move in the other direction.

Californians did a phenomenal job for a while, adhering to the shelter-in-place order and keeping new infections low, but the last couple of weeks, our numbers here have exploded (as they have in other, less strategic places). We’ve had a mandatory, statewide mask order put in place for the last two weeks and as of a couple of days ago, restaurants’ indoor-seating, wineries, etc. have been closed down again in many counties in California. I am glad Governor Newsom is reversing course and making decisions based on the data, not by what people would like to hear (and let me tell you, there are still people who think we should just reopen everything). But PSA: just because we are tired of the Coronavirus, doesn’t mean it has disappeared. I still think we reopened too soon. 

I cannot believe that Trump and his minions have all but abandoned dealing with the Coronavirus. It’s like, they decided it’s too hard and if they just wish it away, it’s going to go away. THIS IS NOT HOW THIS WORKS. We are where we are because Trump chose not to provide any coordinated federal response to the crisis and Republicans refused to address his failure. Decisions were passed down to the governors, then to county and city officials with far less authority to enforce their decisions. What we have is a hodgepodge of band-aid solutions scattered throughout the nation. And mask-wearing has become a political statement, not a matter of public health. Welcome to America.

There was tentative talk about a reopening strategy at my work recently, but there is no hard date, and with the latest developments, I don’t expect it to happen anytime soon. We’ve been sent a survey to share our thoughts on reopening strategies to let our leadership team know if we want to come back, why we would need to be in the office, and how often we’d want to come in. 

The only reasons I’d want or need to go back to the office would be a) if I got involved in a project with datasets so large that my (hand-me-down, old) DELL work laptop couldn’t handle the processing that would be involved and b) to see/meet with colleagues. Since the reopening strategy at this point would involve having people come in on alternate schedules, so we’d be having a limited number of well-spaced people in the building, there’d be no point to go back if you’re sitting in the office by yourself the whole day (again, unless a) happened).

Honestly, everybody has pretty much adapted to WFH life now, and while I can see advantages for some people to go to the office (e.g. for lab work or fieldwork activities), personally, I have no need or desire right now to go back. Of course, I am lucky – and thankful – that I have the option to work from home at all.

Are you still working from home or have you been called back to your workplace? (If you still have work – sorry, did I just put my foot in my mouth? Seriously, I want to know how you’re doing!)

On a different note, my whole family was supposed to arrive for a 3,5-week summer vacation today. To say that I am bummed is the understatement of the century. When all this started, I knew pretty early on that the chances of them coming this summer were slim, but I didn’t think that we were going to be where we are today with rising case numbers all over the country and no tangible plan.  The Coronavirus has really thrown a wrench into 2020, but in all honesty, I’d rather know my family is well and safe in Germany than having them travel to a place that is so clearly not handling this pandemic in any responsible manner. 

If you want to know how the EU (or single countries) fares compared to the US (per million people), here’s a good resource. Cringeworthy, right?

Thankfully, Jon and I are on the same page. We are both not ready to venture out and 100% agree that we won’t leave the house for anything other than necessities (which is grocery shopping every other week, walking/running, and doctor’s appointments).

I am sad we still can’t go out to eat, make any plans for the summer (or even later), or see friends, and nobody knows when this will all be over, but I know one thing for sure: continuing to stay home as much as possible is the right thing to do right now.

Where’s your headspace these days?

  1. Oooof. My headspace is in a weird place lately. Some days I wake up and feel okay with everything, like a resignation that this is life now and we just have to make the best of the situation. And other days I feel so sad because I don’t understand how the administration screwed this up so royally (I mean, I DO get how this happened but my God: I’m just so effn pissed off this is where we are right now).

    It’s good your company is keeping communication open and trying to figure out a game plan moving forward. I’m glad you have the option to work from home, too. I actually return to work after maternity leave on Monday (I have WFH for years) so I’m used to this structure and grateful I can with baby AND that bryan is also able to do this since we can’t exactly have family to help us right now. Life is weird. But I believe we’ll get through this together ❤️ Sending all my love to you guys. Stay safe!

  2. I am so sorry that you can’t be with your family right now. I think that’s the worst thing about the pandemic. My company has us on WFH until September, but they were seeing an uptick in people going to the office so they deactivated everyone’s access badges this week. I guess it’s their way of saying “you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here”. I don’t have any answers, we’re just doing our best.

  3. My mind is right here at home. We’ve been invaded by Summer Tourists who are not worried about sharing their germs with all of us. I expect a surge in the weeks ahead.
    We’ve isolated since March 13th. Jack did have 3 doctors’ appointments at the VA on Thursday which he kept, but he wore a mask through it all. He is 82, in poor health and if this virus gets to him he is a goner.
    Stay safe.

  4. I am totally with you on the whole stay at home and only venturing out when necessary. As our numbers are much better (compared to the U.S.) life here is feeling back to normal. Only masks in public transport and shops but even that is discussed now. I have met a friends couple once. I haven’t hugged my family yet. However I did have a few business meetings. One landed me a project until end of year so that was worth it. My dad is throwing a big party end of August (open air) but I have to admit I am torn. Id loved to be there but I also know a lot of them are not to strict with the whole keep-your-distance thing.

  5. My company told us about a month ago that we would all be home for the year. They think they will have people come in on a rotating basis in 2021, but it’s TBD at this point. And if you want to WFH in 2021, they will also allow that. So they are being very cautious and responsible. There are some roles that need to be in the office more than others. I find that I’m as productive at home as I am in the office and I probably work more hours. And no one is taking vacations either it seems. My company was super opposed to WFH until COVID. They actually got rid of a WFH program a little over a year ago and would never allow anyone to WFH on a recurring basis. You could only do it on an as-needed, ad hoc basis. But they said they have changed their mind and saw that they were wrong. Because everything has been running pretty smoothly with everyone working from home. I think there was always a fear that people would slack off if they WFH but that hasn’t been my experience. Everyone is online at the times they would be if we were all in the office.

    We are taking the same approach as you guys and are staying close to home. We do get together with some daycare families but we are all in the same immunity bubble since our kids go to the same daycare. We won’t eat in a restaurant in 2020. Probably not until we have a vaccine honestly. We get takeout once a week to support our local restaurants, though. Which is more than we got take out in the past. Take out was an ‘every couple of months’ type of thing before COVID! But I would eat lunch out once/week so that spending has gone away, as well as monthly book club and the very occasional date night.

  6. Thanks for your updates – it’s hard to know exactly how it’s been back home. I’m sorry about your family trip falling through and watching the numbers – it must just be excruciating and exhausting. It’s hard to convince some Americans to take this seriously, apparently – and as you mentioned, when the leadership isn’t exactly setting the example, where does that leave us? Hoping things improve soon.

  7. Ugh, I swear I felt like such a lunatic with my family for not wanting to go to their Fourth of July celebration. I just didn’t trust them to be smart with socially distancing (and I was right – as referenced by the MANY group shots, sigh), and my mom and I were the only ones who didn’t go. But oh well. I’ll be the lunatic that doesn’t get sick or passes anything onto other people!

    Florida is a MESS right now, and our governor isn’t doing anything about our rising case numbers. I think we surpassed the previous daily record number of cases over the weekend, so, well, good job, FL? #1 at something? It’s just so demoralizing.

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