How’s your family doing?

Weekly staff members check-in with their family from around the world

These past few weeks of social distancing have been rough on many as we collectively navigate the unique challenges of working from home, daddy daycare and the outer reaches of netflix. For many of us, however, it’s also provided us with a reason to check in a little more often with our loved ones who might not live down here in paradise.  

Here’s a collection of the experiences the Weekly’s extended family and friends have had from around the world.

Kim Thoa Duong, Tiffany Duong’s mom
Singapore | 1st reported case = 23 January 2020
Status: Strict in-home quarantine by Singapore government; 68-years-old

Returning from the U.S. to Singapore in early March, I was put on “Stay-Home Notice.” I cannot leave my apartment for any reason for 14 days and the MOM – Minister of Manpower – randomly calls/video-chats me up to three times a day to ensure I stay self-quarantined at home. They also ask if I feel well (no fever, coughing) and if I have enough to eat. I feel much safer knowing potential Covid-19 carriers (like me) aren’t walking around public places. These measures might sound insane and crazy, but I feel safer knowing they’re being taken. 

There is one more week of quarantine to go, and I will take this opportunity to catch up on watching TV with my old man. The rules are put in place to protect us, and a bit of inconvenience will save lives. COVID-19 is only interested in mass-duplicating itself. It knows no borders nor politics. If we keep safe distance and hand hygiene practices, we’ll get out of this together!

Vickie Duong, Tiffany Duong’s sister
San Francisco, CA | 1st reported case = 5 March 2020
Status: Shelter-in-place order by CA Governor; 34-years-old

I was one of those “young people” who thought my mom and her generation were overreacting as they stock-piled Clorox wipes and ramen noodles in early February. Needless to say, yet again, my mom was right all along.

The day after I returned from a bachelorette party the same weekend everything began escalating, I was supposed to drop my mom off at the airport so she could get back to Singapore before travel bans came into place. The night before, I couldn’t sleep with the idea that something…the worst…could happen to my mom, and it could be my fault.

Since that thought, I’ve really adopted social distancing and sheltering-in-place as my responsibility. I realized it wasn’t just about me and my health, but for so many people that I could unknowingly put in harm’s way.

Vilan Arai, Tiffany Duong’s cousin
Placentia, CA (Orange County) | 1st reported case = 26 Jan 2020
Status: Shelter-in-place order by CA Governor; 34-years-old, 6 months pregnant

Being pregnant during the pandemic sucks, it’s changed me and the way I think. 

I bought into the panic. I bought a Costco pack of toilet paper that I don’t need, food I don’t usually eat, and a year’s worth of diapers because I don’t know how long panic buying will last.

I worry more. I can’t run a simple errand without thinking twice – is the risk worth it or can it wait? 

I stress more. I am due in less than three months, and I worry every day. Will my OB see me or will we do checkups virtually? Will I have to deliver my first child in the hospital by myself? Or even worse, what if I get Covid-19 and pass it on to my baby?

I am self-quarantining at home, and I f*cking HATE it. It irritates me when I am doing what I can to slow the spread but see others at the beach/hanging out and not taking the State Orders seriously.  

If we all work together to stop this virus, we can all get the hell out of quarantine sooner!  Don’t be stupid – wash your hands, stay home.

Michelle Jhun, Tiffany Duong’s college friend
Chicago, IL | 1st reported case = 24 Jan 2020
Status: Shelter-in-place order by IL Governor; 37-years old, 1st year resident 

I’m a first-year resident. I’ve asked to be transferred from Clinic to Cook County Dept of Health COVID Response team and was granted my request after initially being denied. I start tomorrow after a COVID briefing from the IL Dept of Public Health, wish me luck. 🤞

Especially with the shelter-in-place in IL starting a few days ago, there’s been added anxious energy amongst my coworkers and our staff. The ethics behind it and our Oath push us to serve. I have the luxury of making the choice more easily, so I deeply respect my coworkers who are making this choice despite having a family.

Pablo Paz, Sara Matthis’ childhood friend
New Orleans, LA | 1st reported case: 9 March 2020
Status: Shelter-in-place order by LA Governor; 50-years-old

I went for a bike ride through the French Quarter on Saturday and it was completely silent. It’s the first time in my life that the Quarter has been completely silent. We’ve had a big “break out” here for two reason — because Mardis Gras and St. Patrick’s day parties went on as planned, and because we are now testing large numbers of people. Restaurants are offering take out and delivery and our waste management director has asked people to stop flushing shredded T-shirts (gross). The panic buying is settling down, but there’s a lot of tension here. New Orleans is a big tourist town and the desperation among service works is palpable. Personally, I am spending as much time as I can outside, working out with my girlfriend in the park. And powerwashing. I’ve deep cleaned most of my house. \

Ellie Guinness (Mandy Miles’ first cousin)
Auckland, New Zealand | 1st reported case: 28 Feb 2020
Status: Four-week lockdown as of midnight March 25

We only have 155 cases currently in the country, so to contain the virus early, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called for strict measures for the whole country to go into a four-week (to start) lockdown starting tonight at midnight (March 25). 

This means everyone must stay at home unless they are visiting, or work at, an essential business, and people are allowed to go outside for exercise. Essential businesses include supermarkets, pharmacies, health services, police and a few others. All restaurants, takeaways, liquor stores and shops are closed. There is a large aid package from the government for wage subsidies and mortgage relief.

Kevin and Pamela Bolen (Mandy Miles’s brother and sister-in-law)
Boston, Massachusetts | 1st reported case: Jan. 31, 2020
Status: Non-essential businesses closed, shelter-in-place recommended by MA Governor

We have two teen-aged sons who want to hang out with their friends, but instead have to be content playing video games online with them. 

As of noon Tuesday, March 24, all non-essential businesses were closed by order of the Massachusetts governor. Walking trails are still open at parks. They’re advising people to  shelter in place, but it’s not mandatory yet. Schools are closed until April 7, but that’s likely to be extended.

Ellie & Morgan Kevin and Debbie McCarthy, Jim’s mom and dad
Chautauqua County, NY (40 minutes south of Buffalo) | First case reported March 2
Status: Stay-at-home order by NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo 

Debbie: We’ve been all doing just fine. I’ve been staying home. They’ve been saying they want you to stay home, but nothing’s happening in terms of enforcement. Really, there’s nowhere to go anyhow. You really don’t see anybody out on the streets. You see few cars driving. Grocery stores have been busy and bare. Even the elderly who get in early are finding empty shelves. 

Kevin is a janitor at a state college that will be used as a quarantine site for positive cases in the event numbers increase rapidly in the community. Meanwhile, international students and students from NYC who couldn’t go home are being sent to one dorm to keep them in one spot: 

We had a meeting at the end of Tuesday and we’re not happy what the college is doing. We’re not protected, we have no protective supplies to deal with what’s going on there and we’re going to be exposed to it all. They should have moved the students elsewhere off campus. They want to use this one dorm for all the students on campus and they want us to clean it. The janitor of that building says she’s not even coming in. These students should also be tested and screened before they’re put into the dorm. If they start quarantining people, I’m out of here. They want to use the building I clean as a quarantine area. I told my boss I’m 61 and I’m at risk. Tomorrow it will be another b****ing session of why we’re doing this crap. 

Jim Campbell, high school friend of Jason Koler
Berlin, Germany | 1st reported case: March 1, 2020

My family of three has been holed up at home since the afternoon of Friday, March 13. I go out for supply runs and maybe once a day we go out to the park next door, or on bike rides, or take the car to unfrequented areas for some fresh air and an occasional change of scenery. I work from home as a translator (largely for film and music festivals) and am still quite busy for the next month or so, then the bottom will probably drop out for a while. Our three-year-old is at home with us instead of at pre-school as usual. Outside, in this working class neighbourhood, things are pretty civil and still fairly laid-back, no severe shortages but some empty shelves. I appreciate the coherent approach from the government (city, state and federal) and the fact that there has been a fast and relatively unbureaucratic mobilisation of resources for people in various segments of the economy (from freelancers, to small and medium sized businesses to subsidised paid furloughs for employees of larger companies). Also the single-payer public insurance system means that everybody is covered going into a crisis like this, a big bonus. 

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