William has developed a bit of cold and there is so much concern about coronavirus for the elderly and higher-risk individuals that we just talk to his mother through the closed glass door. She is happy to see us, but looks so sad that she can’t hug us.
Our first trip to the grocery store is an eye-opener. In Taiwan we most likely would be remotely scanned for a high temperature and there is always hand sanitizer upon entry. Not here. I am able to find the standard anti-bacterial wipes near the shopping carts and use one. Maybe I am becoming a germ-a-phobe! The store shelves are empty of paper products, cleaning wipes, rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer. Soup, pasta, rice and beans are minimally stocked, primarily with unusual items on the shelves. Canned asparagus or pickled beets anyone? Luckily we find most of what we need. A few people in the store stare with concern when William coughs into his sleeve.
I call around the city looking for a thermometer so we can proactively monitor ourselves using hard data. The only one I can find is the type that is pressed against the forehead - $50. Sigh. The clerk agrees to hold it for me for one hour, so we quickly run out to buy it. William’s temp is low and mine is normal at 98.7F. William has classic cold symptoms, no fever and no difficulty breathing, but we consult with a nurse to see if we can get a Covid-19 test to put the minds of the family at ease. Nope. We’re told that people are only tested if they exhibit the symptoms. Bummer - it would be so much easier to have a confirmation of no virus.
We just stay in the apartment on most days. The first few days are rough anyway, trying to get our bodies to adjust to Central time. I communicate via text with our Airbnb hostess (who lives upstairs), apologizing if she hears William’s coughing and any noise from us getting up at four or four-thirty in the morning. She seems relieved when I reassure her that William does not have the Covid-19 symptoms.
Wednesday one of our dear friends comes to dinner. William is recovering from his cold while she and a small group of co-workers are still going into their office daily. All of us are willing to run the risk. We have a terrific evening catching up.
Like many, many people throughout the world our days are filled with online projects, puzzles, reading, TV streaming and receiving the updates on coronavirus. We are staying just a few blocks from Lake Michigan. On the few nice days we go out for a walk, ensuring we stay six feet from anyone we meet. We cringe as we look at our stocks and have concern for the closed businesses and many people who are now out of work.
We are fortunate that we do not personally know anyone who has tested positive.
We are living in interesting (though often personally boring) times.