Staying at home in San Francisco

San Francisco
Western SOMA district (South of Market)

On March 16, San Francisco became the first city in the United States to have a state at home order that restricted all but essential activities. Three days later, Governor Gavin Newsom extended the order to include the entire state of California (population 40 million).

The first case of COVID-19 in California was confirmed near the end of January. At first, the infection rate grew slowly and the largest concentration of cases was in the San Francisco Bay Area. But now COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in 53 of California’s 58 counties. According to an article in the LA Times, as of April 5, there have been15, 201 confirmed cases and 350 deaths.

Patrick and Erik at Mount Tamalpais State Park in Marin, California

My brother Patrick and his partner Erik live in San Francisco. I asked Patrick if he’d be willing to write something for the Catching Health blog about what life has been like for them. Being the awesome brother that he is, he obliged. Only I had to remind him because if there is a procrastination gene, it runs in our family! He came through with his story and a few pictures. Thank you, Patrick (and Erik). Stay safe. I love you.

I’ve been working from home for four weeks now. My partner, Erik, developed a sore throat on the afternoon of 3/8 and by that evening my throat was also sore. At that time, we were very much aware of COVID-19 and the havoc it could wreak, so I chose to work from home for the next two days.

By Wednesday, Erik’s throat was still hurting but I was fine. However, out of an abundance of caution and … not really wanting to step outside, I chose to work from home again. That afternoon, my company asked all employees who could work from home to do so until mid-April.

Fortunately, I’ve had the ability to work remotely for the last couple of years and already have a dedicated workspace in my home. The only thing I can’t do is print, but I confess that I am guilty of printing more than I should and recognize this is a good opportunity for me to break that habit.

The following Monday, my second week at home, San Francisco ordered a shelter in place. I’d been on a conference call when I saw the alert and as soon as it ended, Erik and I made a beeline for Trader Joe’s to get more supplies. At this point, I had only gone to the corner store a couple of times, choosing to pay higher prices and avoid the crowds at the larger stores. At TJ’s there was a very large line in the parking lot and they were asking people to stand 6-feet apart and to be patient.

I had just gotten in line and was taking in all the drama of the moment when this young lady got in line behind me and asked me something. I couldn’t hear her so I bent down and she spoke directly into my ear, asking me if this was the Trader Joe’s line. About three minutes later it occurred to me what I’d done. I quickly, but as discreetly as possible, rubbed Purell over that side of my face.

Once we got into the store, a lot of the shelves were empty and all the freezer items were gone. That was two weeks ago. I’ve been out a couple of times since then, corner store only, in and out quickly. Erik has been more adventurous. He tried to go to Trader Joe’s again (line problem) but got into Safeway with no problem.

We wipe down everything that comes into the apartment and wash our hands frequently. I’ve noticed that I keep touching some part of my face every so often and haven’t got that fully under control. It’s not “out of control”, but it is happening.

A few days ago we went to our favorite Japanese Izakaya restaurant for curbside pick-up (all paid for, they set it on a shelf outside when they know you are there, no interaction). On the way back, we passed a Target and there was no crowd! OMG!! We both went in. Erik went off to pick up anything we needed and I stood inside the door by the multiple security guards, keeping plenty of distance, pacing, and … I touched my face! Did I pick up the bag at the restaurant or did Erik? OMG, again??? I immediately rubbed Purell all over my face.

San Francisco has extended the shelter in place until 5/1 and my company has informed us we will be working remotely until further notice. I am not fearful of losing my job and don’t see that happening. The company Erik works for has been letting people go but he is not fearful of losing his job either. We are prepared to ride this out, though not indefinitely. What about all of these other people who lose their income? What about the restaurant & bar workers and all of the retail employees? What about the people who don’t have any medical insurance?

Patrick Swett

New recommendations: Cloth masks

Now, following new CDC recommendations, Patrick and Erik wear masks when they go outside.

“… CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

CDC

Following Erik’s lead in his picture above, peace to all of you. No matter what your situation, may you be sustained by peaceful moments. If you have a story you’d like to share about how you are doing, send me an email or add a comment at the end of this post. Thank you and take care.

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Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.