Quarantine Diaries – Weeks 36 and 37

Well. Things are getting dire out there, aren’t they? We really need a national mask mandate, some stronger lockdowns, real financial help for both people and businesses, and a vaccine. Speaking of the latter, there seems to be several vaccines getting close to ready. We’re to the point here where a vaccine distribution committee has been created for SA and a plan begun for the eventual release, whenever it comes. I really hope there’s continued good news on that. Last I heard, general population looks to be receiving the vaccine closer to April next year, but even getting the vaccine out to healthcare workers and the vulnerable populations would vastly improve this situation!

Week 36 – Nov 13 to 19
71,377 cases, 1,309 deaths, 321 seven-day rolling average (up 38/day), 9.4% positivity rate (up 1%). As expected, hospital admissions, ICU patients, and patients on ventilators have all continued their steady increase. We’re at about a third of the level we were at back in July when we peaked.

It really hit home this week how badly things have been going in the more rural areas of the country, especially in the Midwest, which didn’t have as many covid cases over the summer as the metro areas. My in-laws’ county, where my boys and I stayed in July when things got really bad here, has had an astonishingly horrific surge. That month I was there, they went from 31 total cases when I arrived to 96 when I left. Even then, they were starting to creep up. But now, they’re at 3,023 cases, which doesn’t sound like much until you factor in the low population: 6.7% of the entire county’s population has contracted covid since the pandemic began. To put that in perspective, if that were the percentage here, our case total would be around 134,000 – almost twice as high as it actually is. It is now much, much worse up where they live and rapidly rising – a single week ago, that percentage was 4.4% of the county and under 2000 cases… (Hard to see, but in the photo below, the one really dark county in northwest WI is theirs.)

(Source: NYTimes)

At home in SA, cases are still going up here, but not to the extent of other locations. Nearby Kerrville had the virus rip through one of their nursing homes, killing seven already. A new study has found that one in six Texans are infected, and the governor is currently refusing to tighten restrictions (or let local governments tighten restrictions). HEB (the local grocery) has started to put product limits back on typical hoarding items like toilet paper, because yes, the hoarding has started again. Nine kids from Laurence’s high school tested positive for covid this week, which makes several dozen since limited in-person learning began. (We continue to school from home!) One bit of good news: Jason and I donated blood again, and our free covid antibody tests came back negative, so it’s likely we’ve not had any asymptomatic covid. Oh! And Jason’s employer is donating $3.5 million to local relief organizations like the food bank and Haven for Hope (helping the homeless), which is awesome.

Week 37 – Nov 20 to 26
76,750 cases, 1,343 deaths, 764 seven-day rolling average (!!!), 10% positivity rate (up 0.6%). Note: Other than the positivity rate (which always reports on Mondays), these numbers are as of Wednesday instead of the end of the week, due to the holiday yesterday. That rolling average – which only reflects six new days of cases – is up an average of 443 daily. It’s more than double what it was last week. If we’d gotten a number for the seventh day of the week, likely that daily case load would have been over 900. We’re seeing exponential increase, both in our numbers and in the hospitals. –>

So…shit. Very suddenly, our totals have gone insane after weeks of holding back the tide. It started on the 20th, with an emergency notice on our phones that our covid daily count was over 900 – more than we’ve seen in any single day since mid-July, and well over twice even our highest recent daily counts. Each day this week has continued to have high case numbers, including numbers higher than the alert, so it’s not an isolated reporting incident. I don’t know if the surge is related to Halloween, or Election Day, or just the trickling in from cases around the state (which is having record-breaking daily numbers – over 20k in one day on Nov 24th!!!). It’s certainly not what we wanted to see, especially in a holiday week! The city currently has a curfew in place starting last night through Monday morning, to try to prevent social gatherings over the holiday weekend. I doubt it’ll do much good, but good on them for trying!

So much has happened this week, after months with little news. The San Antonio Symphony announced that they’ll reopen for (limited-seating) performances starting in February, after they closed last March. This is particularly important for my family as that’s my stepmom’s full time job, so she’s been essentially unemployed for almost a year now except for side gigs. Someone here in SA had a double lung transplant after covid destroyed their lungs. I didn’t even know that was possible! The blood bank has grown critically low on blood, with less than a two-day total supply and less than a one-day supply of Type 0 blood (used in trauma/ER situations). Makes me glad Jason and I both gave last week (we’re Type 0), even if we can only contribute a trickle compared to what’s needed.

Let’s see. More stuff: Doctors are starting to speak out about local patients who refuse to believe they have covid even while unable to get out of their hospital beds, like we’ve heard from reports in other parts of the country. One business here – after having 18 citations since March – finally had their occupancy certificate revoked by the city. A strip club, no surprise there! It’s only the third business that the city has forcefully closed since March. Then there are the updates from the various school districts, which all show exponential growth in cases. Our district, as of November 15th, reported 136 students and 81 staff infected, a jump of 53 students and 28 staff in two weeks. That doesn’t even begin to count what might have happened during the more recent surge in cases. Over half the student cases are from grades 7-12, as one might expect. Teens are not always the most responsible about things like mask-wearing!

On a more personal note: That county percentage up in WI that I mentioned last week? It has continued to grow, and is now at 7.7% of the total county population. Other parts of Wisconsin and nearby Minnesota – where all of Jason’s family live – are similarly effected. And it has finally touched home. Jason’s younger sister, Chelsea, tested positive this week. So far, she just has mild symptoms, and hopefully all stays well. But two days before the test – pre-symptomatic – she had a surprise visit from my mother-in-law, my other sis-in-law, and my niece. They stayed outside and hopefully they were all careful, but both my MIL and SIL are particularly vulnerable with multiple autoimmune disorders, so this is really scary. And on top of that, the vulnerable SIL (Tenille, Jason’s older sister) has a double whammy, because her husband Jesse had close contact with someone who tested positive. Tenille and my niece got tested (negative for now, but early post-exposure), and both are currently staying with my in-laws while Jesse quarantines at home. It’s very scary times for the family right now, but as of last night, everyone was well.

(Chelsea, Tenille, Chris, me – Christmas 2016)

Returning back to San Antonio, my family went into stricter home lockdown after the big alert came through. We were already heading that direction as numbers increased, but this accelerated it. It was the first week in a few months that Jason and the boys reverted to virtual for their Sunday D&D game. Ambrose’s friend Tyler had been coming over, masks worn and distance kept, since SA got things under control, because we knew his family was taking the same precautions as us. Even though that last part hasn’t changed, we can’t risk in-person visits anymore. So that’s Ambrose’s support bubble basically gone again (Tyler’s family is like his second home). I’m putting stricter mask precautions on the hikes that I host, and might stop hosting and attending altogether depending on how things go. I’d hate to give up that social support and outdoor exercise, and our group has done a wonderful job of keeping safe, but it’s still scary to contemplate.

Week 37 ended with a lonely little immediate-family-only Thanksgiving. As I said in my Sunday Coffee post, we didn’t do any of the big gatherings we normally do for the holiday. However, my sister did decide to come down for a couple days, and collectively we decided that she and my mom (and possibly my stepdad, we’re not sure what he’ll choose yet) would come to our house for an outdoor, safe, masked, distant visit. Either we’ll be outside on the newly built deck, or if it’s raining (something like 70% chance), we’ve cleared out the garage and will be able to sit far enough apart in there with the garage door open. Everyone is bringing their own food so no sharing of utensils etc will be needed, and other than when we’re eating, we’ll be wearing masks. It’s the safest thing we can do while still seeing each other. This is a calculated risk that I’m willing to take. Family is important, so we’re trying to balance being with family vs keeping family safe by staying away.

Moving forward
Hunkering down, making decisions about things like hosting hikes, avoiding businesses more than usual, hoping things aren’t going to get exponentially worse by Christmas (but pretty sure that they will, especially given the record numbers of flights in the US from this past weekend…).

About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
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2 Responses to Quarantine Diaries – Weeks 36 and 37

  1. I’m not sure that it isn’t just the way it goes. All pandemics have second waves. Rates here started going back up at the end of August, so it was too early to have been due to schools and universities going up. People tried to score political points by blaming a scheme in August to get people to boost restaurants by eating out more, but that’s nonsense because rates went way up in most Continental countries as well, so it was nothing unique to the UK. And, for whatever reason, it’s happened in different cities at different times. There doesn’t seem to be much of a pattern. Hope things improve soon!

    Like

    • Amanda says:

      Schools were definitely a big part of it here, but we didn’t start going up until about four weeks after universities were back in session. The biggest thing now (across the country) is the shift to rural areas that were safe before and therefore not taking a lot of precautions, like where my in-laws live. They say that epidemics hit cities first, but when they hit rural areas, they’re harder to control. Whatever the reasons, this is a horrible time for it! It’s to be expected, though – the weather is forcing people inside especially in the north, which means fewer outdoor gathers, more spread…etc.

      Liked by 1 person

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