I'm Not Afraid of COVID-19
It was confirmed that we have neighbors who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
My husband, who has been extra cautious and paranoid (he can’t help it, he’s German) since the announcement of this outbreak, tries not to say anything but I know what he’s thinking. “I told you so,” say those brown, judging eyes. For a second, I recall all those times I rode the elevator without a mask, believing I am safe in my relatively upmarket apartment building. I try to remember if I have ever been coughed on or if I interacted with someone who seemed under the weather. Those times when Matt asked me if I sterilized my hands after putting on my shoes and I lied when I said “yes.”
However, that moment of panic was quickly replaced with my usual fatalistic mentality that pretty much says: screw it. Que sera, sera. What will happen, will happen.
You might say this is irresponsible coming from someone who is the mother of a preschooler and the caretaker of our home. I should be vigilant in ensuring the safety of my child (and my husband, of course) and protecting her from what is, for some, a potentially deadly threat.
I am seriously sick and tired of being afraid. However, this does not mean I opt to be careless. Practicing basic hygiene is something I have always adhered to, and nothing beyond common sense is really necessary. Wear that mask. Wash those hands. Sanitize with isopropyl alcohol. Distance yourself from strangers which naturally follows avoiding crowded places. These all make sense to me and have become second nature during these uncertain times.
But, I am done with cowering in seclusion. While people have gotten sick from COVID-19, most have recovered completely. Although the virus is highly-contagious, our household is composed of healthy and relatively-young individuals who are statistically not susceptible to dying from the disease. My mother, on the other hand, should be isolated and extra careful. She needs to be protected at all cost, and she is not leaving her apartment until this blows over.
Perhaps my complacency also stems from the fact that my husband worries enough for the both of us. He bathed me in alcohol when I came back from the mall or any crowded place, demanded I take my clothes off as I enter the door, and immediately whisked them away to the laundry room. I am made to drink a double dose of vitamin C and am handed glasses of water periodically throughout the day. I am cared for like a toddler, actually, which is also probably why I can afford to have the fearlessness of one.
With the “Enhanced Community Quarantine,” I really do not have much of a choice but to isolate myself. There are no crowded malls, no busy restaurants, and the streets are so quiet I can actually hear birds in the distance. While medical frontliners are doing heroic things and working class Filipinos— like the employees in the supermarkets, our guards in our condos, and the delivery guys— keep the country running while they brave infection so they can continue feeding their families, I have the luxurious task of staying put.
With nowhere to go and visiting neighbors and family highly discouraged, I make the effort to find a semblance of normalcy throughout all of this. I have been cooking up a storm and experimenting with new recipes for my husband and daughter to try. I help my daughter with her schoolwork which I print out for her to accomplish, then is scanned and uploaded to her school’s Google Classroom. There is a lot of playing and a lot of time spent in chat groups with family and friends. The internet has been the unlikely hero during these strange times, providing information, entertainment, and a temporary venue where people can interact. And, there’s laundry. There will always be laundry.
While the threat is real and inching closer to home everyday, life has to go on in this highly irregular situation. Caution does not have mean paranoia. I cringe when I see news of people who continue to attend parties or concerts and defiantly resist the call for social distancing for the sake of plain fun. That is the best and most logical solution, and people who defy it are not only irresponsible and selfish but also downright ignorant. I’m starting to believe that’s Darwinism at work.
So, yes, for the sake of the common good and in alliance with the rest of the country in trying to contain this dreadful virus once and for all, I will isolate myself from the world that I am accustomed. I will wear cumbersome masks that make my nose sweat and sanitize my hands until they are dry and raw. But, out of concern for those who do not have a fighting chance against this disease and for my family I have sworn to protect. Because of that reason alone, and not out of paralyzing fear.