I woke up this morning with a limited number of goals in mind. Go to the grocery store, meditate, take a walk, read the news and email, connect with a friend, and write. In the back of my mind I’m keeping an eye on projects around the house that can benefit from some attention. Here it is, almost 4:00pm and I accomplished all of these to some degree.
It is curious how much psychological energy it takes to go to the grocery store now. It was akin to trips I would make outside the monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal. My mind drifted toward the trip to the grocery while in meditation. I got dressed with an eye toward the event, even setting aside the beautiful facemask that Joni made for me. I made sure that I had a clear idea of what to buy and was equipped with the right currency and cards for being out and tried to time my trip to arrive in mid morning, after the first rush. Driving into the parking lot of the store, I was happy to see few cars and lots of space between them. In the store the mood was somber but clerks were very helpful and courteous and there were some knowing nods and smiles from people as we passed. Some wore face masks like myself, many did not. Somehow I felt more connection with those who did.
I was happy to see that, while the shelves in the store were laid bare in places, I was able to get some version and quantity of the things on my list. The experience wasn’t normal but manageable. Later in the day I spoke to a friend who had gone to the same store at 8:00am for “senior shopping”. His experience sounded harrowing compared to mine. He described the store as packed, especially in the produce and checkout lines. He said that people were unable to maintain distance between them. I had heard stories about these special shopping hours from my neighbors and had vowed that if I ever see a full parking lot at the grocery store, I will return home to shop another time or day. I think the store needs to rethink this senior strategy as it may have unintended and infectious consequences.
I’m going to keep today’s entry short but I want to share an opportunity with you that could make a difference. Today on “Science Friday” I learned about a website that has been created to report our health (feeling good, feeling bad) and our symptoms (if we’re feeling bad) on a daily basis. It is called “COVID Near Me“. Gathering this information will allow health officials to see the patterns of outbreak and the symptoms geographically so that the spread can be understood and addressed.
One of the challenges we face is that we don’t know how the virus is progressing. We don’t have enough testing kits to contain the virus in the way South Korea did (that’s a whole other story). Our only defense has been to self isolate so that we don’t spread the virus. Now that we’re all sitting at home, it is a great time to be a citizen scientist and contribute for the well being of us all. From the website COVID Near Me:
Created by epidemiologists and software developers at Harvard, Boston Children’s Hospital and a group of volunteers from across the technology industry. Covid Near You uses crowdsourced data to visualize maps to help citizens and public health agencies identify current and potential hotspots for the recent pandemic coronavirus, COVID-19. The website is a sister tool of Flu Near You, created by Ending Pandemics and Boston Children’s Hospital in 2012 and maintained by the Boston Children’s Hospital team.
Covid Near You relies on voluntary participation from the general public, asking you to take a few seconds to report if you or your family members have been healthy or sick.
We analyze thousands of reports and map them to generate local and national views of covid-like-illness, providing public health officials and researchers with real-time, anonymous information that could help end the COVID-19 pandemic, and prevent the next one from happening.
With your help, we can all see what’s happening and better still- you have the knowledge to protect yourself and your family against disease.
I hope you will participate.