Though this 21st century plague has been around since December, COVID-19 has only made its presence felt in in my hometown for the last few weeks. It’s definitely becoming more pronounced.
I live close to the urban center of Tulsa. While it’s no Manhattan, it’s typically a busy place with plenty of cars and people going to work, grabbing a meal or going to shows. It’s a destination center for the city.
Not so much these days. What I’ve seen over the past week or so is that the noise of the city has changed. Fewer cars. Less machinery. More birds and breezes in the trees. The city is quieter than I’ve ever seen it.
I mentioned daily disruptions last week, and that continues. I still go to the office for work, but they’ve split my department up, with about half working on another floor now. During my shift, the newsroom has no more that five or six people in it. When my shift is over and I’m doing my last duties, I’m the only one there. I plug in some tunes and get to work on placing stories for the corporate website, send off a few late emails and shut it down without a soul around. On Thursday, I worked from home for the first time. Downside: not having two monitors and dealing with twitchy internet connections. Upside: Five feet from the fridge! I ate well last night.
Speaking of eating, here’s a Covid World first-world problem: The taco joint next door to my office shut down, closed until this mess clears up. So no weekly burrito feast for me (insert sad face). Real world problems: The people who worked there don’t have jobs. They and 3.3 million other Americans filed for unemployment last week. Having been on that ride before, I can tell you this: No one enjoys unemployment. Being broke is stressful.
I’m making other adjustments. I posted a video on Facebook and Instagram showing me doing some kettlebell swings, maybe trying to encourage people to make do with what they’ve got and keep up those exercise routines. Exercise builds resilience, and that can help you fight off the bug. Or maybe get over it.
Anyway, a friend saw the video, commented, and offered to let me borrow an unused barbell and a few plates. She’s personal trainer and works from her house, and was hoping to find someone who could use the spare gear. It’s not much — about 110 pounds total. But let me tell ya, I’m grateful to have it. I can program in barbell lifts that I’ve been missing the last couple of weeks. It’s interesting to see how people react in times like these. Some folks are fighting over toilet paper. Other people, like my now-idled personal trainer friend, are looking for ways to help others whose lives have been upended.
One thing I’ve noticed hasn’t changed: People are still getting outside. The parks lining the Arkansas River have been busy. One of my new workout ideas is to do hill sprints on my bike, and there is no shortage of people walking, running, cycling and skateboarding on the trails. I’m not sure how much actual “social distancing” is going on there, and there was enough concern from the city that it and the county closed down playgrounds and basketball courts. I’m getting outside, too, cycling and running until the government says I can’t. I don’t do well cooped up.
Last thing: I think my neighbor’s condition may be improving, and his husband doesn’t seem to be coming down with the bug. We’re keeping an eye on them, mostly because they’re a bit older and fit all too well into that “vulnerable” demographic people keep talking about. I’m not worried about catching the bug from them. It’s the spring breakers that concern me.
As for me, I’m getting a little fluffier around the middle, but otherwise healthy. I’ve still got a job. I think there’s toilet paper around here somewhere (I know a place to get some that isn’t overrun by panicked suburbanites). But like a lot of you, I’m warily eyeing those infection numbers, wondering when the next shoe will drop, and hoping this thing doesn’t last too long.
Stay safe and well, my friends.