Sunday, February 9, 2020

Coronavirus Update From Shanghai

Okay, to start off, none of us are sick. No one we know is sick.

School closure has been extended until the end of February, with no specific re-opening date, but we could theoretically be back to work on Monday, March 2, with students returning Tuesday, March 3).

I am settling into the routine of running elearning classes. The workload is about the same as if I was working normal hours. The actual teaching time is less; the prep time is more because I'm working with unfamiliar technology. The Kiddo has also been adapting reasonably to the elearning routine.

I am aware that the US State Department issued a recommendation that Americans in China stockpile food. There are always some minor grocery issues around the New Year holiday as stores close and there is some minor disruption to supply chains, so we had already made sure to have a reasonably stocked pantry at the start of the New Year break. Since then. we have kept ourselves stocked up to a higher degree than usual.

That being said, groceries have not been a problem. Our local grocery stores have cut back hours, but this really just means they are not open at night. They are generally well-stocked, and the items that have been in low supply have not been anything essential, and even those items have been restocked on occasion (peppers, onions, and bread, for example, have been sold out sometimes, but we've been able to get all of those eventually). There have been no unusually long lines.

Almost all restaurants are closed right now. Some of the ones that are open are take-out only. Or, like our local McDonalds, they won't actually forbid you from eating in, but they discourage it and only give food in takeout bags. Restaurants may start to open back up tomorrow, when many businesses are set to reopen. We don't know.

We are wearing masks when we go out. Masks are required to enter most businesses. I also don't want to risk the disapproval of people on the street by going without one. Masks are still in short supply. I did manage to buy a few at a convenience store a couple of days ago, and we put in an order for some online, which should be delivered on Monday. We have enough reusable ones to get by.

No, we do not think that a mask is actually an effective protection against direct exposure to virus. See above. What I do think is reasonably effective protection is the fact that there have been very few cases in this city, and the fact that this is there are 30 million people here, all of whom have been at least making some efforts to keep quarantine.

There are body-temperature checkpoints to enter most malls, some stores, and most apartment complexes, including ours, so we get our temperature checked a couple of times a day on average.

We've been avoiding unnecessary travel in general. We go out for grocery shopping. We walk around the neighborhood for exercise. Traffic is very low, and buses/subway are much less crowded than usual. Again, some of this might change tomorrow when more people return to work.

I know that there have been some alarming photos floating around with people in hazmat suits and carrying guns and whatnot. The checkpoints at the railroad station do have people in hazmat suits. The only guns we've seen were carried by regular cops. In theory, bank security are armed (their guns are not always real), but we haven't even seen any of those because the banks have been closed).

As far as we've been able to tell, there is no overcrowding at hospitals here. One friend of ours went for a routine appointment, and said the hospital was pretty empty. That was also what we observed when we passed by several hospitals in Nanjing the week before last.

Overall, the biggest problems we're dealing with are cabin fever, boredom, and uncertainty about how long this will last and possible disruptions for travel plans down the road (next travel plans are in early April). I don't want it to sound like we are not taking this seriously, but I also want to reassure everyone that right now, this is a lot more on the scale of an inconvenience than anything else.