Quarantine Diaries – Week 18

This week (July 13th) makes four months since our first covid-positive case in SA. Back then, my family took precautions, canceling/rescheduling appointments, setting ourselves up to be at home for some time. Imagine: my well-woman’s exam was scheduled for April, and I pushed it back to July for safety’s sake. Ha. Ha. Ha. (It’s now pushed back again until September, will likely get delayed again.) I remember Stephanie telling me that she thought we would have rolling lockdowns for the next two years until we had a vaccine available. It all seemed so surreal. How could we NOT get things under control by summer? But I forgot. Americans are led by a narcissistic dumpster fire who couldn’t make a good decision if his life depended on it, and there’s a whole parade of politicians licking the guy’s feet. Additionally, our culture is obsessed with individualism, instant gratification, and one-upping each other. Disease management has become a political minefield. Ugh ugh ugh.

It would have been so easy to respond to the initial threat with quick pandemic guidelines and solid medical advice, to alter said advice and guidelines as we learned more, and keep people safe while also not crashing the economy. Anyone who says otherwise needs to open their eyes and look at what most of the rest of the world has done. I have a friend in Australia who told me last week that they’re going back into lockdown for six weeks. He hadn’t looked at the numbers for awhile, and when he did, he bugged out about Texas. Texas has 29 million people, Australia has 25 million. The day he looked, AU had just over 9k cases; Texas had 241k cases. I pointed out that San Antonio – population 2 million – had almost 18k cases that same day, twice the number of Australia even though AU has 12.5x the population. The mind boggles. Or really, it doesn’t, because what else can you expect of a country that has divided itself the way we have over the last 12 years?

Ugh, this, yes, because mental health is kinda poorly right now for many of us: If your mental health is at a point where you cannot bear to hear more about quarantine stuff, skip to the bottom of this post for a list of positives and highlights and Nice Things. We all need some of that right now!

-Friday, July 10th:
Local count: 18,602 (+923), 166 deaths. Today’s single new death is another child in their late teens. Another – not from today, but recently – was a 30 year old man who attended another of those horrid “covid parties,” thinking it was all a hoax. Not long before he died, he said, “I think I made a mistake.” Close by in Corpus Christi, a six-WEEK-old baby died of covid. I cannot fathom why folks aren’t taking this seriously!! It feels like we’re back at the beginning again, and in so many ways, we are. I remember when this all started in mid-March, and San Antonio’s big annual festival, Fiesta, was postponed from April to November. Today, it was canceled for 2020 altogether. It’s a good decision, but symbolically, it’s a blow. Nat’s brother FINALLY got his results today – positive – and they told Nat there was no reason for her to retest since she’s got all the symptoms and all four of the other people in her household are confirmed positive. (Pic: Isolating for safety’s sake.)

-Saturday, July 11th:
Local count: 19,137 (+535), 175 deaths. Another nine deaths today, including three in my age range. My heart hurts. At least the hospital admission numbers are starting to flatten out pretty visibly in the data now, and DOD medical personnel are headed to different counties in TX, including Bexar. (I just had a thought – for those of you not in Texas, “Bexar” is pronounced “Bear.”) I have to roll my eyes at the governor, who is waggling his finger at us and saying that he’ll have to send the state into lockdown if the spread doesn’t slow soon. If he ever gets to that point, it’ll be far too late. We already have parts of the state that have more patients than hospital availability, and we had another record high number of cases throughout the state again today. It’s so frustrating, because I really want to go HOME. I want it to be SAFE to go home! (Pic: more Wally cuddles as I miss my kitties)

-Sunday, July 12th:
Local count: 19,648 (+511), 184 deaths. The numbers continue to climb. Several reports in from around the country about people getting re-infected with covid months after recovering. Near the beginning of this whole thing, I went on a bit of a rant about the so-called covid parties attempting to get “herd immunity,” and now not only have covid parties proved to be deadly, herd immunity has proved to be a fantasy with this disease. I don’t know what this does to our prospects for vaccine, but this just sucks. I’m feeling grumpy today after waking up at 4:15 am for the third night of major insomnia in a row grr.

-Monday, July 13th:
Local count: 20,213 (+565), 195 deaths. New weekly numbers tonight: positivity rate up again, now at 24%, but our doubling rate has bumped up from 11 to 16 days, which is a good sign. Very little else to report, though I did see today some interesting news from the homeless community in SA. Apparently despite the city’s high positivity rate, the rate is only 1% among the homeless shelters and encampments, with only 10-12 people infected over the last four months. Makes me wonder if this is the trend nationwide. Meanwhile, I’m up in the land of no-one-cares-about-the-pandemic, and I was frickin’ annoyed that while I managed to get in to see a chiropractor for my sciatica today, not a single person including the chiropractor was wearing a mask besides me. Grr.

(screenshot from my facetime call home tonight)

-Tuesday, July 14th:
Local count: 21,067 (+854), 201 deaths. Another record high case day for TX with almost 11K. Some new stats from SA: 36% all hospital admissions are now covid-related, and 30% of all cases are folks with no underlying conditions. Also, homicides this year are nearly double what they were at this time last year in SA, many of them domestic-related. Gah!!! And to give an idea of how serious the hospital situation is getting here, there are now refrigerated trucks on standby for the dead when morgues overflow. In other news, there is now bubonic plague squirrels in Colorado, because 2020…

-Wednesday, July 15th:
Local count: 21,546 (+479), 208 deaths. After a bunch of threats from the TEA that schools won’t receive state funding if they don’t open this fall, there’s finally an exception in place. If local health officials order schools to be closed for in-person classes, funding will still be available for students in online classes. Local health officials in SA want to discuss this with the heads of school districts first before making any orders, but I’m hopeful about this. Also, Ambrose’s college put out guidelines, and most classes – hopefully all of his specific classes, but we don’t know yet – will be online. (Pic: I ran a full 5K today. Completely unrelated to covid but I had to celebrate!)

-Thursday, July 16th:
Local count: 27,047 (+5,501), 229 deaths. Note: Only 691 cases reported today are from the last day. The rest is a backlog of reporting from state labs. So…apparently we were doing even worse than we knew. A couple pieces of local news today. 1) The city has announced that city pools will not open at all this summer. 2) SA researchers are looking for participants in a vaccine trial, with the hope that a vaccine will be ready late this year to early next year (far earlier than I’d personally anticipate!). 3) Pregnant women in SA are testing 10-20% covid positive right now, despite being mostly asymptomatic, and with this comes the possibility of known-placenta-microclots leading to future problems with the newborns. This disease!! 4) Our school district has announced that for at least the first three weeks, all classes will be online, whew!

This week, we started with 17,679 cases and 165 deaths, and ended at 27,047 cases with 229 deaths. Apparently those case numbers were inaccurate, though, as we found out at the end of this 18th week of quarantine. There’s no way to know how many cases came when, so I just have to say okay, we had 9368 cases and 64 deaths this week. (We were looking at a slight improvement before that backlog, too!) Since we know those cases came from the last two weeks, I’m going to lump the two weeks of numbers together for average. This puts us at 14,169 cases in two weeks – notably, that’s more than 50% of our total cases – and 115 deaths (half!), for an average of 1012 cases per day. This is NUTS. It’s so bad, y’all. So bad. Top graph is the weekly numbers (non-cumulative), bottom is the cumulative weekly numbers.

An update on Natalie’s family
I’ve gotten periodic text updates from Natalie, whose entire family is desperately sick with covid. All five of them are in the vulnerable category, which makes this particularly scary. Her dad (sick two weeks now) has almost no fever left, has a bit of appetite back, and actually felt good enough to shower on his own on Wednesday. Her mom (who was largely asymptomatic in the beginning) had a couple bad days of symptoms but is mostly feeling better now, thank goodness (she has brain shunts!). Her brother is mostly doing better by now. Her husband is to the point where most of the chest pressure is gone and he’s mostly with joint pain, but overall feeling on the mend. And Nat herself, who was one of the last to get symptoms, is unfortunately still in the thick of it. She had the “felt better one day only to have it get much worse” in mid-week, with high fevers, terrible headaches, and on-and-off delirium. She’s also on an inhaler with specialized meds because of her asthma. I really hope she’ll also be on the mend soon! (Pic: Nat and me in May 2016)

Positives and Highlights and Nice Things
It was a very discouraging week in terms of covid news. These are the few highlights that helped me to get through it.

  • my mom Polo-ed us video of a particular Hallmark Christmas movie scene that we always enjoy getting (long story, involves a mute button and Jason improving rom-com dialogue…in other words, a good laugh for us!)
  • one of my two most anticipated books of 2020 (The Lantern Men) finally released after several delays! (Yes, I finished it. Yes, it was delightful!)
  • That friend in Australia I mentioned above? His name is Oisin, and this week we talked via Zoom. It was the first time we’ve talked live in the 14 years we’ve been email penpals!
  • I RAN A FULL 5K!!! –>

What is your good news for the week? I need some positives!!

About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
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6 Responses to Quarantine Diaries – Week 18

  1. My dental appointment in the first week in April was rescheduled for today. They made me put my handbag in a plastic box, and then the dental nurse had to carry the plastic box in case I contaminated the side of it! There’s a huge backlog of medical check-ups here, and I assume everywhere else as well, and things like smear tests can’t really be left indefinitely.

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  2. gricel d. says:

    Sending all the best to your friend and her family!

    Wow! I thought I had it bad worrying about being at the cardiologist’s office while everyone was wearing masks. Florida’s case numbers are insane, with Miami still at the peak, but I haven’t been in a space where someone was unmasked since April (even before they set the county mandate).

    I was late for my dentist’s appointment in March and thought I would get it done after returning from a conference I was going to… well, that didn’t happen and now I’m way behind on my cleaning. 😦 I’m worried about my long-term dental care and wishing I had gone in May when Miami was on the down slope. The dentist is one place I’m not ready to risk.

    I haven’t seen any numbers on our homeless population, but the county and the Homeless Trust have been placing homeless people in local hotels to keep them from crowded shelters. They’ve also started using hotels for people who need to isolate from their families 😦

    I’m equal parts hopeful for some combination of treatment and vaccine, and dreading having to continue with the rolling lockdowns because Americans are the worst. At my uni, they’ve told us we’ll be working from home indefinitely save a small group of people on campus, and will shut down again as soon as the numbers rise again.

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    • Amanda says:

      I don’t believe I’ve been in more than one to two spaces where everyone WAS wearing masks. There are about 30% a-holes in SA. Even in places that require masks, there are people disobeying. And sometimes shooting people over it. Sigh.

      I’m about a year due for my dental visit too. Guess it’s a good thing I take really good care of my teeth, but still, I need a visit soon!

      We’ve had hotels set up from the beginning for people who need places to stay so they don’t infect family members, or for anyone in the homeless shelters who gets sick (plus the shelters themselves have spread out, expanded, etc.). I do wonder just how the numbers look nationwide or if it’s just an anomaly here.

      I saw good news today regarding both Redemisivir (sp) for treatment, and vaccine production, so I have a little hope for us going forward. Of course, there are all the people (including my mom and stepdad) who will refuse the vaccine, ugh. So who knows how well this will go. I feel like our country is bursting apart at the seams.

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  3. WOW, email penpals for 14 years?! That is impressive! How did you initially find one another?
    I’m so glad to hear that Natalie and her family seem to be on the mend.
    VERY scary about all those pregnant women with COVID… yikes.

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    • Amanda says:

      So the story about Oisin and me is that when I first signed up for MySpace in 2006, he saw my profile on our mutual friend Chris Messer’s page. He and Chris had both taught in Japan together. Chris had been friends with Jason’s older brother, and we actually bought his mother’s house before we moved to TX back in the early 2000s. So Chris and I became friends on MySpace (and still are on FB now), and Oisin decided to contact me out of the blue, and it turned out that the two of us communicate in very similar ways. We basically spout stories at each other, not always to do with whatever the previous person said in emails. We write every 1-2 days, only a paragraph or two, and the content is mostly lighthearted and pointless drivel, but we enjoy it and periodically one of us will go off on a rant of one kind or another. The other person doesn’t even need to respond directly. Often, we say “I understand” by simply telling a story of something similar happening to us at one time or another. Anyway, it works, and we had no idea if we’d even be able to communicate in person, ha! But we could.

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