Hello from the USA’s Hot Zone!
I live in Washington State within the greater Seattle area. My home is in Snohomish County and my work (a hospital) is in King County. And lucky us... this is the hot zone for the corona virus (aka COVID-19) outbreak in the United States.
The first case of the virus in the United States was diagnosed just up the road from me. So far 39 area residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 10 individuals have died. Additionally, 231 area residents are under supervision for having known exposure to a patient with confirmed COVID-19. Source as of 3/4/2020
Things here are surprisingly normal and whacky at the same time. For example, we now get lots of emails about how events/services are protecting folks from the virus. One local burger chain sent an email detailing their thorough cleaning methods. The Emerald City Comic Con, being held next weekend, is a massive convention with cos-play, celebrities, and panels. So far the event is not cancelled but everyday they send messages outlining the infection control measures taking place at the venue.
There have been a lot of developments overnight in corona land.
At my work (a hospital), all work related travel has been cancelled. All events (seminars, fundraisers,etc) have been cancelled. We are no longer allowed to have in person meetings for groups bigger than 5 (everything is supposed to happen online). We have also initiated a screening process for all visitors to prevent people with flu like symptoms or who have recently travelled overseas from entering the facility.
Businesses have also started social isolation measures. Amazon Corporate, Microsoft, local Google, Facebook and AT&T offices and Nordstrom’s Corporate have all told employees to work from home. Many of these companies have told people to work from home until the end of March!
Two local school districts have closed. In the Northshore school district this means 22,000 students will be home for two weeks! The district plans to hold class online, but parents are left to wonder how they will juggle work with kids at home. Plus, parents with multiple students are wondering if they need a computer for each child to attend class. It also isn’t clear how the district plans to assist families without personal home computers.
The King County Department of Health (the county where Seattle is located) has issued targeted community warnings. Pregnant women and individuals over 60 have been advised to stay home in the near term. This advice also applies to folks with chronic medical conditions.
I think I am actually more worried about the economic repercussions of the whole thing vs. the virus. Sending the workers home from big companies is going to hurt small businesses, and people in the service sector a lot. I also feel bad for folks who have the kind of jobs where working from home is not an option. Then peripherally I am also thinking about heading to the store to grab some canned food before things get unnecessarily crazy.