The Koorse family is one week into a self-quarantine due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. 10 days ago, life was normal. We knew there were COVID-19 cases in the United States and that it was wrecking havoc in Italy and China. However, we felt safe and secure. Since then, the reality of the crisis has really hit us hard. The CDC has recommended social distancing and staying at home. People are stocking up on goods and hospitals are running out of medical supplies to protect nurses and doctors on the front lines. The stock market has dropped by a third and all businesses have ground to a halt. It isn’t clear when the economy will start back up again. If Italy is guidance for what comes next in the US, then this crisis is just beginning.
It has impacted our family in many ways. I have to work remotely. Daycares and schools have closed up, so Megan and I spend more time keeping Dahlia engaged. My parents went to India to help with my grandmother before the virus was a pandemic; they are now stuck there with no clear approach to getting home since flights are being cancelled and countries are closing borders. My in-laws have several rental properties; they’re not clear when/if their renters will pay rent. The illness targets people who are elderly which leaves our parents and grandparents especially vulnerable. Megan’s friends who are nurses are having a hard time keeping in touch because they are overwhelmed with work in this call to action. Our family takes walks twice a day to stay fit and get fresh air. Megan and I occasionally make grocery runs to get supplies. Leaving home feels more dangerous now since everyone is processing the pandemic in different ways. Some people act like nothing has changed and move in for handshakes. Some people wear medical masks and do not make eye contact.
It has been nice to get rid of the commute. I love having lunch with the family and watching Arin do new things every day. It’s amazing to see how much new technologies can deliver on a virtual office that feels more connected than co-location in shared spaces at work. I’m lucky to work in a company that prioritizes family over profit but it makes me feel sad for the explosion in unemployment that is coming. I knew that my wife is the true MVP of our family in raising our kids. Being home, I have more visibility into the multitudes of roles this requires – being a good role model, an amazing project manager, and a patient teacher. Instead of shutting down screen time, we’ve found better tools to help Dahlia learn. She uses Khan Academy for kids on her tablet to learn about counting and reading.
The community also provides many reasons to be optimistic. Artists and instructors have started up online sessions where families can listen to music and practice yoga. Local restaurants have switched to delivery pick up. Even if this is the new normal, no one is giving up. We are all in this crisis together. We’ll find new ways to cope and this too will pass.