Panic in Pictures

A little over two weeks ago I wrote a piece called “Corona Craziness.” I thought people were overreacting about the coronavirus and were unnecessarily panicking. Two weeks feels like a lifetime ago. So much has changed-so quickly. At the beginning of March, most cases of the novel coronavirus were in China and China responded by enacting a quarantine in the Hubei province. High population. Highly authoritarian government. I understood how this could happen. It didn’t seem likely these actions would be repeated elsewhere. Sure, the virus had spread to other countries. South Korea, Iran, and Italy were most impacted, but their coronavirus infection numbers were relatively low. ‘It would be like the flu,’ I told myself. ‘Some of us would get it, but the vast majority of us would be just fine.’ When comparisons were made to the Spanish flu after World War I, I presumed things would be okay because we have antibiotics to treat secondary infections today. I thought our daily lives would hardly be impacted. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The daily lives of millions, perhaps billions, have been impacted. And there is no end in sight.

Monday, March 16, 2020. Not one package of toilet paper or paper towels in the grocery store. Photo credit, L.B.

I don’t remember much talk about COVID-19 potentially overtaxing our health care system then. I certainly don’t recall hearing about having an inadequate supply of ventilators to treat the disease, leaving it up to doctors to decide which patients live and which will be left to die. COVID-19 hadn’t exponentially exploded in countries outside of China yet. Now countries like Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Ireland, Denmark, El Salvador, and New Zealand are in lockdown or have sealed their borders. Many other countries have enacted various degrees of travel bans. Schools and businesses across the United States have voluntarily or been forced to close…indefinitely. Indefinitely. Phrases like “flatten the curve” and “social distancing” are ubiquitous.

Kind of wondering how long it will be before we see a fully stocked hand sanitizer shelf. Months? Years? Ever? Photo credit, L.B.

People have been panicking for weeks, but things are different now. The panic is palpable. Just take a walk into the grocery store to see and feel it. It goes way beyond hand sanitizer shortages. Toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectant wipes, bleach, meat, pasta, even frozen foods are luxury items at this point. I long for the glory days of only hand sanitizer shortages. The looks on people’s faces as they walk up and down the store aisles?…Confusion. Disbelief. Frustration. With the limited stock on the shelves, you’d think we were living in a war zone. The stock market roller coaster ride is just too much to take. If I pay attention too closely, motion sickness might set in. I don’t even want to know how much I may have lost. So I don’t look.

No bleach, disinfectant sprays, sanitizing wipes, or liquid soap in sight, but a few bars of soap remain. I guess people didn’t “consider their neighbors and communities when purchasing these items,” Photo credit, L.B.

I think about how much has changed in two weeks and I can’t even begin to predict what the next two weeks will bring. Such uncertainty. My oldest son is home from Boston and will be completing his first year “in” college online. My eight year old is home too. I am helping him complete his school work via distance learning, while I figure out how to create distance learning for my own students. I’m developing mad audio and video file conversion skills (through trial and MUCH error), so that’s a silver lining–I suppose. I’m wondering if either of us will return to school before the school year’s end. It’s anyone’s guess, really. While we are becoming social distancing pros, my husband still has to go to work each day. I worry he’ll be exposed to the coronavirus, but I try not to think about that.

Don’t look. Don’t think. Don’t panic. Yeah, the coming months should be interesting.

Monday, March 16, 2020–the meat aisle. Photo credit, L.B.
Even the frozen vegetables couldn’t escape the panic. Photo credit, L.B.
The contents of a hastily packed college dorm room are presently housed in our basement, Photo credit, L.B.
Hope?, Photo credit, L.B.

Published by LeeAnn Browett

LeeAnn is a teacher who lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children. Her passions are education, history, politics, theater, and music.

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