The Covid-19 Experience – March Timeline

Tuesday, March 31

Well, I’ve finally made it to my laptop to blog. I’ve been meaning to do this for a few weeks now. I’ve been busy,, taking care of things and adjusting to the new normal for now, but also procrastinating this task. This is my second attempt at this. I first started a blog entry on March 22, but didn’t get that far before putting it down and walking away. To say I was a ball of anxiety 8 days ago is an understatement. While the anxiety still comes and goes, I feel much more stable now to be able to write about this incredible time in the world. While I know that writing is good for me, I know this could also bring up strong emotions as I reflect on the last few weeks. I feel that this is important for my mental health, however and also I just want to have this time in history documented as it is so overwhelming and so unparalleled. I have always turned to writing in tough times. And these are tough times to say the least.

I thought I would first outline a timeline as I see it. Disclaimer: this is a very Lisa-centric timeline and therefore very US-centric. My first stab at this entry outlined the timeline of the entire global pandemic starting in Dec 2019 when the Coronavirus outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China. Yeah, that was too big. I can’t wrap my head around that. Plus you can look that up yourself. I wanted to share a timeline from my perspective and experience and hey, as I’ve always said, its my blog and I’ll write what I want to! I’ll list a timeline with maybe some highlights and then going forward I’ll take some of the big stuff and expand on those in separate entries. Sound good? Great!

Monday, March 9 – Xavier event at the Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland. This was the last “normal” day as we knew it. In the news that afternoon were the first 3 cases of Covid-19 in Ohio. Still very new, this news was a minor backdrop at the event, but surprisingly the event went on as normal. After work I met Zach and Mike for a Xavier Admissions Event. We had a blast, shaking hands with folks with no hand sanitizer in site, ate finger food from a buffet and chatted with the Xavier admissions staff. I was super proud of Zach for having such professional conversations with folks. This was our last chance to woo staff before tuition exchange decisions were made and Zach was stoked about the people he met and the opportunity to go to Xavier. We ended the night with Mitchell’s ice cream. A good night. Little did we know that would be the end of events like that for awhile.

Tuesday, March 10 – JCU’s president announces that classes would be moved to online through April 13 and students are to leave campus by the weekend. As I was meeting with one of my student leaders planning how to make an upcoming event safer (more sanitized) for students we got an email at 2:39pm announcing that classes would go online staring on Mon, March 16 through April 13 and students were to move to their permanent address by the weekend.

Thursday, March 12 – Governor announces all Ohio schools closed through April 6. He first described it as an extended spring break, but then it became clear that schools would move to online learning. Friday, March 13 was Zach’s last before this plan and he said it felt like the last day of school – the last day of senior year – the last day of high school. Hudson’s plan was to start the online learning on March 18, allowing the first couple of days that week for teachers to get plans together. They would then have their spring break as usual the week of March 23 – 27 and then online learning the following week March 30 – April 3. While I completely agreed and supported Governor Dewine’s decision, this was a blow.

Friday, March 13 – Prom Cancelled. Went to work as normal, but it was like a ghost town. Said good-bye to tearful students and got in what I knew would be my last treadmill run for awhile with my girlfriend in the Corbo workout room on campus. We brought Clorox wipes with us to the empty gym and santitized the treadmills before and after use. Right before going to run I got a text from Zach that just said “Prom cancelled”. I went to the locker room and lost it. I had been strong all week, helping students and taking care of business, but this was my breaking point. My mind begin to spin about what else might be canceled in my son’s senior year. Just so sad. Thankfully my buddy was there to comfort me and get it together enough to get our run done! My office worked out an alternating telecommuting schedule. That night Mike and I visited my folks for what I knew would be a long time also. We chatted and ate pie in their house, but at a bit of a distance.

Saturday, March 14 – Found out there was a Covid-19 case in Hudson (a woman in her 50’s)! Starting to feel a bit panicky about this…fear and anxiety ramping up big time. Starting to realize how big and close to home this is and how much mental health issues (my own included) will be impacted here.

Sunday, March 15 – All Ohio restaurants and bars are closed for dine-in. This was inline with the CDC’s recommendation for gatherings of no more than 50 people. This was smart timing given the fact that St. Patrick’s Day is such a big bar day. We skipped in person church and watched a video of my sister’s church message. People can still get drive-through, pick-up and delivery.

Monday, March 16 – Found out that JCU classes will be online for the rest of the semester. Trump changes the gathering of folks to no more than 10 people. I went to an in-person Church Council meeting to meet the new interim Pastor and to discuss online worshiping opportunities going forward.

Tuesday, March 17 – First day telecommuting from home. I had just my basic stuff (laptop) to use and set up one of the spare bedrooms as an office. Worked out a compromise for Zach and Anna to see each other outside with guidelines.

Wednesday, March 18 – Last day in office for awhile. Brought a bunch of office stuff home to prepare my home office. Felt majorly sad leaving JCU today because I had no idea when I’d be able to be back there again.

Thursday, March 19 – First full day working from home. Work went fine. I enjoyed lunch take out in the car at Swenson’s with the boys. I decided we could do take-out twice a week from now on. Zach video-taped the Pastor’s message for Sunday’s service.

Saturday, March 21 – Cleaning Day! I cleaned the bathrooms really good, made banana bread and saw my parents from their car. Mike worked outside all day cleaning out the trailer. Trying to keep busy and remain positive, but feel anxious all the time. I have no appetite and am making myself eat because I know I need to.

Sunday, March 22 – Stay at Home Order. During Governor DeWine’s briefing it was announced that there was a stay at home order for all of Ohio. We basically were already at this point with most service-related businesses closed or hours severely restricted. This order added that all non-essential businesses would close. This meant that my Dad would not have to go into work anymore at the furniture store which I was glad about. I went to Hudson Springs and walked with Mom (distanced of course). So grateful for parks being open still and for being about to get outside!!! My feelings come in waves now from gratitude, fear, anxiety, sadness – all sometimes in the same hour. I really like Dr. Amy Acton – the doctor for Ohio (that’s what I call her). I feel some much better after she talks. She said “I’m not afraid. I’m determined.” I’m clinging onto this and know we can do this together! Rather than thinking about being “stuck at home” I’ll think of myself as “safe at home”.

Monday, March 23 – Mike still working! Mike was to start his next project today, but after the stay at home order we weren’t sure what that would look like. Small businesses fall in many different categories and for Mike it is only him. He talked it over with his client and they were okay with the project going forward. Mike has many safety mechanisms in place that make sure both he and the clients are protected. I was very relieved that this project could go forward.

Tuesday, March 24 – Meltdown with the fam. so I finally had a meltdown with the family at dinner. This is crazy hard on extroverts and I miss being around people…not just my fam. Mike is an introvert and Zach is usually extroverted, but also a teenager. I was able to figure out that I need to do some family activity at least once on the weekend because these are now my ONLY people! I learned that I have to ask for what I need.

Wednesday, March 25 – Virtual Bible Study. I deleted the CNN app from my phone. I’m not really listening to NPR these days either. I realized I have to reduce my news exposure. I don’t usually listen to the DeWine briefing at 2pm either. Now that we have the stay at home order, hearing more news about the increasing number of cases and/or increasing number of deaths is not going to change my behavior. I know that I have to do. I’m working to do it by sticking to my routine and helping others when I can.

Thursday, March 26 – Bad news from JCU. Room and board reimbursement for students means giant budget deficit for JCU…will affect staff positions – no details yet, but anxiety is very high right now. I’m trying to embrace the “one day at a time” mantra, but I really hate that phrase.

Friday, March 27 – Just a bad day. I’m upset about JCU and what might happen with our jobs. We still have not heard from Xavier yet about tuition exchange. We were supposed to hear today, but still nothing. I did have a Facetime call with two of my best buddies which made me feel a bit better!

Saturday, March 28 – New groceries procedure! Almost felt like a normal day except for the Costco process. We are now pretty much wet for 2 weeks. I saw a video about how to effectively sanitize groceries so we did that today. Yikes! Took a bit more time, but totally worth it. Anna came over and the kids hung out and watched a movie outside. Mike installed a TV in the pavilion. We had takeout from Don Patron’s with the kids at a distance.

Sunday, March 29 – Family Hike! We “went” to church at 9:30am for another great video message from our Pastor. This afternoon we hiked 3 miles (out and back) along the bike and hike off of 303. It was a crazy windy day, but nice. It was fun to see the outcroppings of rocks along the trail. There were lots of people, but we kept our distance. It feels weird to almost be afraid of other people. As much as it feels good to get outside, I’m always relieved to be back home with my hands washed. I walked over 17,000 steps today. It was a good day.

Monday, March 30 – Stay at home order extended to April 30. We were not surprised by this at all and I was somewhat relieved, honestly. People just need to accept this in order to keep folks safe and help to flatten the curve. I think I’ve definitely moved into the acceptance phase of all of this trauma . At least that is where I am today. Productive work day with good Zoom meetings.

Tuesday, March 31 – Typical Tuesday. Productive late day for me at work! Just like I do on campus on Tuesdays I “went” into work later today so I was able to get bills paid and other chores done. It felt like an almost normal day. Good to check-in with my students at my night meetings and see their faces!