Reviewing the Bay Area Lockdown #COVID19

I read about the Bay Area “Shelter in Place” order in the early afternoon. I was shocked. I was shocked already about the orders around the country to close schools, and then restaurants… But this! This was another whole new level.

Residents in San Francisco and its five neighboring counties were told today that they are to “Shelter in Place” for three weeks, which means that they are to stay in their home unless they are doing essential actions, like grocery shopping and going to doctor’s appointments.

It’s a 24/7 restriction on movement, which is much more restrictive than the “recommended curfew” in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut which consists of “discouraging travel on a nightly basis from 8PM to 5PM.”

Places like San Francisco and New York City are generally harbingers of what’s to come in the rest of the country, and I was afraid that this “Shelter in Place” is only going to spread.

And my biggest worry was that if we in Maryland also had a “Shelter in Place” order for 3 weeks (possibly… and probably for longer), my mental health won’t survive it.

There are obvious logistical difficulties. And people with more severe health issues, people with kids, and people with work that requires them to keep on going to work have many more hurdles to cross than I do.

I’m fairly blessed in that I am a “Digital Nomad,” which means I can work from wherever, whenever, as long as I have internet access. And I have increased flexibility because I am a freelancer, which means I can control the amount and length of work I take on.

I am also fairly comfortable in my apartment, having set up camp half a year ago when I moved in and made myself comfortable. Our living room gets ample sunlight, which was one of the most important features of the apartments we visited during our hunt.

There are two grocery stores within 5 minute walk of my apartment, and (though they’re all closed except for take out now) plenty of restaurants and cafes also within few minutes walk.

We purchased toilet paper months ago, when there was an initial buzz about this virus from a continent away. However, it was mostly a joke. We didn’t expect the situation to escalate like it has now. (Toilet paper doesn’t go bad, so we figured it’s always good to have more.)

So, logistically, I’m pretty well set up for this “Shelter in Place.” However, I was afraid that my mental health won’t be very well set up for it.

I had just spent months getting out of a depressive episode (I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it seemed like this winter hit me without me realizing it), and only began feeling better a week ago as I got serious about walking daily.

I can’t have my daily walks taken away! They are instrumental in maintaining my physical and mental health!

Nervous about what directives like these really meant for me, if our government were to implement them, I hopped over to the Department of Public Health Order of the Health Officer directive: Order of the Health Officer No. C19-07 (Shelter in Place).

And here are some core results:

  • You can walk dogs, hike, jog, and take walks, as long as you stay 6 feet away from other people.
  • But you may not go to gyms (they’re closed).
  • You can go purchase essential household items, and also engage in essential activities.
  • Public transportation is operational, but only for essential travel.
  • Residential and home-based care for seniors, adults, or children will be provided.
  • People with medical conditions that put them at higher risk of complications should avoid leaving their homes.

So the good news is, even if my state or county implements this fairly drastic measure, I can still take my daily walks (I never talk to anyone anyways), and I can still go out and pick up take out from restaurants. And people who have dogs can walk their dogs.

While it will be inconvenient on some levels (I’ll be canceling my Physical Therapy evaluation appointment for this week, and will resume the process of getting PT help when this dies down), all in all, it doesn’t seem like my life will be impacted much further than it already is.

I hope everyone is keeping warm and safe, and I sincerely hope we all get out of this situation unscathed.

Hiroko Nishimura
AWS Community Hero. Special Education teacher turned IT Engineer turned Technical Writer. Author "AWS for Non-Engineers" (Manning Publications). Technical Instructor "Introduction to AWS for Non-Engineers" (LinkedIn Learning).

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