Pandemic Journal

I STARTED KEEPING a daily diary that centered on the Coronavirus pandemic in late February, 2020. It is a personal record of my days, which often include impacts of Covid-19, although to date I have been fortunate not to encounter the virus directly.


I also write down one or more news headlines every day, something that strikes me. And because I was reading Daniel Defoe's "Journal of the Plague Year," in the early days of my journal, I sometimes quote from Defoe's 1721 work, passages that resonate, often eerily, nearly 300 years later.

EARLY DAYS: increasing awareness of the coronavirus

NINE PAGES, NINETEEN DAYS OF CORONAVIRUS: We follow the shocking news in Italy, cancel our forthcoming trip there and drive from Southern California to our home in Bellingham, Washington -- as everything changes.

February 24 to March 13, below.

The virus hits Italy full force
By late February, we realize we'll have to cancel our spring trip to Italy
Anxiety, apprehension
Parliamo del virus in Italia
Covid-19 in Washington State
Last cafe for a long while
Lockdown in all of Italy
Back home: stocking up
No hugs or handshakes
Fauci: Flatten the curve
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INTO MARCH: Canceled, closed, stay home

EIGHTEEN MORE DAYS OF MARCH : The governor orders restaurants and bars closed, and cancels events and large gatherings. "Stay home, stay safe," is the watchword. Covid-19 hits too close to home with my son's sickness. Donald Trump's lies are appalling. We develop a new vocabulary and adopt new habits, deal with shortages of toilet paper and flour, follow the horrendous situation in New York City and a super-spreader event nearby. We have trouble sleeping. Bird sightings offer a brief respite.

March 14 to March 31, below.

Exponential growth
I wonder if 16 pairs of white cotton gloves will add a layer of protection.
It's happening so quickly
Restaurants and bars ordered to close in various states and cities: Ohio, Illinois, California, Washington.
Closed, canceled
St. Patrick's parades are cancelled in Boston, Dublin, Chicago. Bars and restaurants closed in many cities and states, including Washington.
Friends and family around us, affected by the pandemic
A scary brush with the virus: Zak has symptoms of Covid-19 (but can't be tested).
A bad dream?
Our 90-year-old neighbor expresses our own thoughts: "Is this all a bad dream?"
A profound silence
Shops and restaurants close; signs go up. "Closed until things get better"
Lies, lies, lies
Trump: "It's like a miracle -- it will disappear."; "We have a tremendous testing set-up." "Anyone who needs a test gets a test."
Vocabulary of the pandemic
The words and expressions that we use so often now, in Italy and in the U.S.
"Stay at home, stay healthy"
With this phrase, Governor Inslee ramps it up.
What we experience
Common problems: we can't concentrate or sleep well. We wake in the night and think we have symptoms of the virus.
Food in the pandemic
We order food to be delivered, for the first time ever. Going "out" for coffee means bringing a thermos of coffee to drink in the car.
How to shop and eat
The stress of shopping with masks, gloves, wipes, hand-washing and surgical instructions. The comfort of homemade food.
Overwhelmed in NYC
Bodies are hauled away in refrigerated trucks, the modern version of the Plague Year's death carts
Bird sightings
Amid the lies from Trump about how all will be well by Easter, we watch a large variety of birds from our window.
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Exponential growth

I wonder if 16 pairs of white cotton gloves will add a layer of protection.