Shelter in Place

I have to admit, at first I was a little skeptical about the threat of COVID-19. But as events transpired in other parts of the world, I realized it was something to be taken seriously. Although an event I’d been particularly looking forward to on March 14 ended up being cancelled, I had already decided not to attend.

On March 15, the six largest California Bay Area counties issued shelter in place orders, including Marin County, where I work. On March 16, Sonoma County, where I live, issued a similar order. Other jurisdictions followed, and on March 19 an order covering the entire state of California was issued, superseding county level orders and not having an end date.

Schools were closed, events were cancelled or postponed, work places were closed or shifted to remote working – anything to limit exposure to (large numbers of) other people, thereby breaking paths for transmission of the virus. All of a sudden we were in a very different world.

Some people felt the measures were perhaps unwarranted, but to me, a quote from this article summed it up pretty well: “It’s that you have to take steps that appear in the moment to be an exceptional overreaction — because by the time it looks like the steps you’re taking are appropriate, it will have been too late.” Looking like we overreacted seems like the better risk to take.

So, we are to stay home, except for essential activities. Which are somewhat enumerated in the orders, but it’s got me musing on “essential”. Not something most first-worlders think on too much.

DO I REALLY NEED THIS __________ ? Fill in the blank with whatever new gadget or piece of clothing or getting in the car to drive to the store for one ingredient you don’t have for a new recipe you HAVE TO try tonight…

Maybe this is, as one of the memes going around said, the Earth sending us to our rooms for a time out to think about what we’ve been doing. It’s given us a lot of hints that we’re making a mess of things , and may be losing its patience. Or realized we need something very big and obvious to get our attention. How does that saying go? Mother Nature bats last.

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