Atlantic Beach, FL
If I could have seen the way the world looks now 18 days ago, I would have started journaling the events then. March 2, 2020 was the first mention of COVID19 in our family group text. We’d all been hearing about COVID19 since December when it was reported in China and took note when the first case was reported in the U.S. in Washington on January 20th. It was Troy who mentioned it in our family text the day after the first two cases were reported in Florida in Hillsborough and Manatee Counties. At the time, Matt was traveling to Hillsborough County for work. I hadn’t conducted any research on COVID19 and really had no understanding of the implications, but there was enough of an awareness and intuition that I called Matt and told him to humor me and lay off the handshaking. When he laughed, I insisted and said he could tease me, etc., but yes, please don’t shake hands this trip. When he left for his work trip the next week, I had Clorox wipes and a can of Lysol on the kitchen island with his files to take with him. This time, there was a firm directive to use these supplies and to again, not shake any hands.
Now 18 days after that first group text mention, we are seeing changes to our daily lives that have happened at such breakneck speed, it’s difficult to accurately report them after the fact. Today our mayor, Lenny Curry, closed all of our area beaches at 5:00 p.m. with fines for trespassing imposed if you are on the beach after that time. Also today, Governor DeSantis announced the closure of all restaurants while still allowing for take-out. This following the decree earlier this week closing all bars and nightclubs and limiting occupancy in restaurants to 50 including employees. Everyone knew it was a matter of time until the dining rooms were completely closed based on what we’re seeing in other states. The governor of IL announced today a statewide order for all residents to shelter in place following the lockdown of major cities in CA and NY. According to The Center for Disease Control (CDC), Florida is currently 6th in the country for number of COVID19 cases.
This event has suddenly and profoundly affected every aspect of our lives. We are all experiencing a whiplash of sorts trying to process needing to adjust major life plans on a moment’s notice. In our family, our third daughter’s college graduation ceremony was canceled, and our son’s college spring break trip was truncated when all the ski slopes were closed shortly after his arrival to CO. He is now finishing his spring semester online at home as is every other Florida university student, all Florida K-12 students, and countless other students in every state in our nation. Our second daughter is traveling through South America, and I’d sure sleep better at night if I could somehow blink her under this roof.
All of these personal disappointments and alterations to our lives, as extreme as they are, don’t compare to the magnitude of the resulting blow to our economy and way of life. It will take a unified effort and could result in the most cooperative global community we’ve ever seen.