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By Diana Diamond

A new challenge: What to do when everything is closed?

Uploaded: Mar 15, 2020

Who among us would have ever thought three weeks ago that a pretty flower-looking corona virus would spread worldwide so rapidly and would affect so many countries? Its effect has been greater than nuclear plant explosions, 9/11, or other viral outbreaks. The universal fears are so great I think it may bring a sense of togetherness among all our nations, as in “We’re all in this together."

The virus, which knows no borders, has hit more than 100 nations..

Our airlines, cruise lines, hotels, churches, gatherings, public transportation systems, sports events, gyms, churches are dramatically affected. Our world economy is at stake, as is our own, with the stock market slightly rising and then plunging day to day.

Even Donald Trump may lose the chance of re-election this fall because of his lack of real concern about the spread of this virus. He was worried, and rightfully so, about the coronavirus might have on the stock market. And he was telling us not to worry, that everything will be fine, and that by April the virus may magically fade away. Sure.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, our chief medical expert on viruses such as these, said Saturday that the spread of COVID-19 would be solved by communities – the federal government would have a role, but the spread has to be contained at the local community level – and it must be done daily to slowly contain the spreads of this virus.

The analogy used is if a community knows a certain amount of rain is going to fall, it is preferable (to contain the virus) that the rain comes down in a 24-hour period, rather than in an hour. So it is safer if we control our contacts with each other hourly – 24x7.

Now we are facing a new challenge – isolation. Some of it may be self-quarantine, but it’s become a new all-encompassing dilemma for all of us. It’s Sunday as I write this, and what is there to do or where can I go? Museums are closed, some restaurants have shut down, sports events have shuttered, libraries are locked, and even Palo Alto City Hall wants us to make an appointment to enter their doors.

I went to Safeway yesterday to “stock up” as everyone else is doing (and no, I didn’t buy rolls of toilet paper), but as I waited in line for 10 minutes and left the grocery store, I realized I had been among hundreds of people doing the same stocking up. We are told to avoid crowds, and I didn’t. Should I worry? Can I really take a safe walk through Stanford Shopping Center to find something to do on a boring Sunday?

So how to keep busy?

Yesterday I cleaned out two kitchen drawers and a big chest I had stored in the garage for years filled with wedding treasures. We drove down to Goodwill with a heap of donations. At the end of the day I felt I really accomplished something.

I have 10 more closets and nine more drawers to go. Then I can tackle my storage room.

Am I having fun yet?

There are books to read, but after four hours of facing all those words my body has to move. There’s a new jigsaw puzzle on the dining room table, which I can tackle because we won’t be inviting people over. I’ve done the daily crossword puzzle, and I have a list of Netflix disk and stream films I want to watch. And yes, my dog and I are taking two walks a day.

I have cabin fever. I am not alone, I am sure. I happen to be a person who needs to “do” things constantly, and get bored when I am not. Even while some of us will be working at home, which many companies have offered, this can be productive, but also are still isolating experiences.

And then what do we do when we get to week two, or three, or five? Or for two or three months, as Dr. Fasci suggested, to prevent thousands of deaths and millions of COVID-19 cases?

Isolation doesn’t help. Talking to family and friends daily really does. I’ve announced that I may pester them for conversations. My husband is great company, but when we are alone together all day long, what to do we talk about when we know what each other did all day long?

What are you doing to get through this new challenge? Can we give each other ideas – and virtually reach out to each other?