Shelter in place

Eastbound on Geary

As of midnight last night, San Francisco and five other Bay Area counties are under “shelter in place” orders, closing all nonessential businesses. I’ve mostly been in pretty strict isolation for the past week—pneumonia in December has me wanting to avoid catching this thing for as long as I can.

On my final trip out of the house yesterday (pre-lockdown) the streets were quiet, even though my roommate and I left just after 5 p.m. Normally, San Francisco would be a snarl of Ubers and Lyfts, with the running joke being that it’s faster to walk than to ride the Muni busses. Not today, though. We made a good time of it, picking up my electric scooter and a computer monitor for my colleague, then dropping off the monitor at her house (after assuring her that I’d hand-sanitized before touching it). We eventually returned home to settle in for the evening—and the next three weeks.

The most amusing sight on our outing was the lineups 50 deep in front of a couple of pot dispensaries (I guess weed doesn’t count as “essential”). Fortunately, grocery stores will remain open, and I’ll likely venture out in a few days for some bread and fruit. I feel a sense of relief about the shelter order, that things are being taken as seriously as they need to be. Because that’s the only way we’re going to slow this thing down.

There’s something to be said for the experience of time under these conditions. It stretches out, with people making jokes about the last day being a long week or month. Today was definitely more on the month side—it’s hard to believe that this morning Canada’s prime minister stared into the camera and told Canadians abroad (aka me) it was time to come home as he closed the border to most non-Canadians; this afternoon my first friend tested positive; and this evening I prepared for three weeks of sheltering in place. I have heavily weighed hopping on a flight home over the last few days. Ultimately, I set up a WhatsApp group where I can spam my siblings and parents about how much I miss them, and hunkered down in my apartment. I figure I’m much more likely to catch the virus on a plane than if I just stay put—so here I am.

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