This is probably TLDR. But yeah. So much water under the bridge and still the tsunami keeps coming.
I’m in Houston, and I have time on my hands. I’m trying not to think of running 26 miles in a couple days and how much I miss my family, so I was looking back through my blog at early 2020. I don’t think I’ve done that before. I find it hard to think about that time and what we know now about Coronavirus being a never-ending nightmare.
I remember when we re-entered the hospital with S, I could barely imagine a single night on that tiny pull-out couch with H, with the incredible stress of fearing our baby would die and being a physical wreck myself. And yet, we managed not one night but ten nights. If I’d known it would be ten nights, I would have said I couldn’t do it. But I could, and we did. I hate to think how long this will last. Honestly, I think it could be a long time. The kids are out of school for six weeks at least, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they’re out for the rest of the year. That seems insurmountable. Which, I suppose is why I, and we, just need to worry about today and maybe tomorrow.
How apt! And yet, even then I wasn’t really imagining the extent of it.
On 3/20/20, I was already ranting about the insanity of people wearing cloth masks. It only took the CDC 18 months plus the Bangladesh study to get on board:
Furthermore, I find the anti-paper mask rhetoric in the US irritating. Paper masks do help prevent contagion, which is why Asian governments recommend them, including China and Korea, the only countries so far to actually control this thing. My Korean friend is completely mystified by the anti-mask perspective in the US. Buying them now may not make sense since medical personnel need them more, but I’m skeptical about whether medical personnel can just wear any old paper mask. Furthermore, many, many people already own masks in their homes which they could wear.
From 3/25/20, the challenges of online schooling. Saoirse was 5 months old and still on a very rigid feeding schedule, including nighttime wakeups, and I had to hold her for naps. It was hard.
It doesn’t work quite so well with Bri. She has about an hour of Skyping a day, and she needs someone to be sitting with her the whole time. She also needs support from us for any “independent” work. This is causing me a huge amount of stress, because I cannot put Saoirse down for naps. She wakes right up, and if she doesn’t nap, she becomes hysterical. It’s hard to work the feeding and napping (not to mention feeding myself and the older girls) around Bri’s needs.
On the endless worry. For us, the calm before the storm – my complicated pregnancy and Saoirse’s hospital stay and early months – was not very calm. We were very, very tired when Covid started. But I am thankful my anxiety stayed in check. So far at least.
I have been coping oddly well mentally with the situation, but I am exhausted. It feels like I have been in a constant state of stress since getting diagnosed with gestational diabetes last August. Maybe since getting diagnosed with previa in June or July. It’s just been one thing after another – previa, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, postpartum hypertension, Saoirse in the hospital for two weeks, three further weeks of tube feeding, months of measuring her food and weighing her all the time. I honestly stopped worrying about her two weeks before we had our first death locally, and it was back to worryville at that point. I just feel like I need a break, but there is no choice but to march on.
I will be shocked if schools reopen around here. So when do things get back to normal? I’m just praying we’re looking at 3 to 6 months and not 12 to 18 months. And “normal” will likely be a major economic downturn. But I’m trying not to think about that, yet.
If only 12 to 18 months had been true! We’re at 22 months and counting and Seattle is at peak hospitalization levels – by a factor of 2. Yes, Seattle has more than twice as many Covid hospitalizations right now as at any other time during the pandemic. Previous peaks were the initial virus, Alpha and Delta, all about half of current levels.
5/3/20 – the bright side of Covid:
It’s hard to believe there could be winners in the time of coronavirus, but there are. Saoirse is definitely a winner. Instead of her sisters, who entertain and love her, heading off to school until 3:30 every day, they are home all day to keep her company. It really is a huge win for her and for the sisters in general. The bonding that happens between the girls and their baby sister every day is wonderful to see.
When I do read the news, it seems to be all doom and gloom, and I get whiplash from articles predicting different outcomes. I conclude that no one really knows.
5/18/20, on masks:
With that said, despite my previous blog post, I am very pro-mask. I am just anti-cloth masks for medical professionals. I think it is absurd that a medical professional should be asked to wear a cloth mask, and that it gives a false sense of security and/or excuses the powers that be in the hospital from doing what needs to be done to get proper PPE. Cloth masks are not in any way proper PPE for medical professionals.
5/18/20, on Bill Gates and vaccines. (Bill Gates has been very wrong about Covid, repeatedly, if you’ve read his blog. Unfortunately, as he was much more optimistic than the way things have turned out.)
Bill Gates says things are not going back to normal until 70% of the world is vaccinated. He estimates 9 months to 2 years to a vaccine. Let’s call it 18 months. We’re three months in. 15 months to go. That sucks.
Reality: it’s been 22 months, and we’re nowhere near normal. Except in Florida, I guess.
5/18/20, on schools:
I really hope schools open on some level next year. I don’t think anything will be different in September than it is now, and I think teachers’ unions will fight reopening.
Yup, nothing was different, and as I predicted / feared, schools did not reopen.
In any case, the threshold for reopening is when new cases reach a level of 10 per 100000 on average cumulative over 14 days. (in other words, no more than 10/14 cases per 100000 per day.) Here’s why this makes no sense. WA is attempting to ramp up testing and positive test percent is finally dropping a bit; we will be punished for doing more testing. How does this make sense? Per our DOH website, they think there are 10 to 15 people with Covid for every positive test, meaning they think we’re identifying less than 10% of actual positive cases. Therefore, the number of positive tests is highly dependent on how much testing is done. Reopening should be based either on deaths or hospital load (or both). Not positive tests.
Furthermore, my projections (which admittedly are not exactly sophisticated, but are at least as accurate as IMHE for my county) show we will *never* achieve this threshold. It’s just math, and achieving the threshold is certainly within the uncertainty, but I’m guessing increased testing plus decreased compliance is driving numbers to asymptotically plateau above the desired threshold.
Sadly, I was right about this, also. We never did achieve that threshold. The lowest we ever got was twice that level, and even summer 2021, after vaccines and before Delta was four times the target.
5/28/20 – vaccine predictions. I don’t think I was far off, really. The vaccine is a godsend, but it’s not very effective at stopping infection. And the side effects, while practically nonexistent for some (like my parents), are troublesome for others.
Yes, a vaccine will help, but it’s likely the early vaccine may only be 50% to 70% effective, like the flu vaccine. It may also have major side effects, like the smallpox vaccine, which may make it a difficult decision to be an early adopter, despite Covid’s severity.
My own perspective is that because we likely aren’t going to be going back to “normal” anytime soon, we have to learn to live with this thing. That means deciding on an individual level what level of risk you can take. It may make living in big cities extremely undesirable for years, maybe decades. It sucks for those who are immune deficient or have asthma or who are already old. For those of us under 50, it may make sense to get this disease sooner rather than later, though I personally think it’s worth giving the vaccine effort a year.
The real question for me is whether it makes sense for H and I to stay in Seattle, given neither of us are working here presently. At what point to we leave this place that we love and move somewhere more rural?
And even in Spring 2020, I was wondering whether it might make sense to leave Seattle. I love Seattle. But I also don’t love it for many reasons having nothing to do with Covid, like distance from family.
6/9/20 – I still believe this 100%.
Frankly, I think our knowledge of coronavirus today is comparable to the understanding of cholera in the mid 1800s. That is – speculative and with lots of major errors. But, as with cholera, with a breakthrough likely soon. Ish.
6/18/20 – I didn’t and don’t buy that it’s OK to socialize to protest for social justice but that otherwise you should stay in your house. But I’m glad that I live in a country where, unlike Australia and parts of Europe, protests aren’t suppressed. America is so unique in this regard.
In my opinion, the government has lost the moral authority to impose restrictions. They’ve permitted gatherings of tens of thousands while simultaneously forbidding people to leave their homes and have gatherings of even five people. Now, gatherings of five – FIVE – people are permitted but most everything is still shut down. And leaders are issuing supportive statements about the protests.
6/23/20 – Yup.
I think we need to be very careful about assuming this is all “temporary” and we can just stay home for six more months and then be rewarded for our patience.
7/15/20 – Masks. My support for masks really ended with the introduction of vaccines. And WA state now advises that kids as young as 2 wear masks in child care. Every child care center I’ve looked at locally mandates mask for ages three and up. And now I realize that the anti-mask conservatives were right in 2020, and I was wrong. What I didn’t understand or fathom then was that mask mandates would be for children, even small children all day long, and would be permanent.
It’s odd to me how conservatives are lining up behind a no-mask position. I certainly appreciate why some people would find it troubling for the government to mandate covering one’s face. For me, it’s uncomfortably close to the sexist policies in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim theocracies. However, all indications point to masks being very effective, and it seems like a small imposition. I feel like some states have gone too far – Pennsylvania mandates that 2-year-olds wear masks, indoors and out. In my opinion, that’s over-the-top. Others I think have not gone far enough – Texas only requires masks indoors if you’ll be within 6 feet of others. I actually think Washington has found the Goldilocks policy for masks. They’re required in all indoor public spaces but outdoors only if you’ll be within six feet of others. They’re required for ages six and up and recommended for ages four and up.
7/15/20 – Jonathan couldn’t get a Covid test in 2020, and it’s still hard to get one today. When are they going to figure out testing?
H just got back from NYC. While there, he interacted with hoards of people, including lots in the hospital. He was on two crowded flights and took multiple taxi rides. He stayed in an apartment with his sister recently arrived from Houston, which is obviously a hot spot. While I think it’s unlikely his sister had Covid before leaving Houston (though she does have an 18 year old son who probably doesn’t follow the rules), I’m guessing there was at least one Covid positive on her flight. So, he decided to get tested upon his return. To get an *evaluation* of whether a test would make sense would cost $100. He decided not to get a test after all.
The beginning of my hatred to teachers’ unions and their continual desire to close schools.
Don’t get me started on the ridiculousness of all the teachers’ unions refusing to go back to work and claiming they’re worried about the health of the children. The data strongly suggest children between 5 and 14 are at no greater risk from Covid than from the flu, and probably significantly less. The risk to teachers and effect on community spread of opening schools are very legitimate concerns, but it’s such BS for teachers to claim they’re concerned about the health of the children.
Seattle public schools are currently planning on kids being back in school one or maybe two days per week. The teachers’ union is refusing to even support this extremely cautious and conservative plan, so it’s extremely in doubt whether kids will get to go to school at all.
This is not college, or even high school. Elementary school and middle school kids need to be in school. Disadvantaged kids and parents will pay for this for a generation.
7/29/20 – My correct prediction that Seattle schools would stay closed through next summer. (They did in fact open 6 hours / week for about a month. But I was basically right.)
Since I started writing this, almost all Seattle-area public schools have announced they will be 100% virtual. I expect them to remain virtual through next summer, given current numbers and what I know about vaccine development efforts.