Anti-Viral 19

by Erin McGuire

Here we all are (speaking collectively, as in “all the world”), social distancing and self-isolating. I hope we’ll come out the other side clamouring to spend time in public with the rest of humankind.

In the meantime, here are my favourite 19 things about distance and isolation 🙂

19. Working from home is a real possibility for those not working in customer service.

18. Rush-rush-hurry-hurry is over. Errands are virtually forbidden – if it’s not essential, don’t do it!

17. No social pressure to make plans or go out.

16. The Great Outdoors is still here. Parks and trails and beaches to walk along. And plenty of space to maintain our distance from each other.

15. Catching up on indoor chores suddenly seems a good use of time.

14. Pets like having us around.

13. Plenty of time to visit relatives and friends whom we know are healthy…

12. …and plenty of time to check on those who are unwell, anxious or need practical help.

11. We can deepen virtual relationships, through tweets and messages and texts and emails and maybe even picking up the phone.

10. Our thoughts and dollars can be turned toward those who are experiencing unpaid sick leave or business closures.

9. We are so informed and prepared, we can disconnect for a while and stop that news feed.

8. It feels good to cook and bake and fill the freezer.

7. We can progress from #stormchips to #quarantine-munchies (What were your stock-up snacks?)

6. We can appreciate the good health that has brought us this far

5. Warm homes in March and wearing jammies in the day

4. Imagining scary scenarios and knowing we’re safe

3. Delicious time to explore Spotify, make playlists, and catch up on releases from favourite artists (lately I am alternating between Riot Girl and 60s girl groups)

2. Movies and TV! Recently I watched State of the Union on Sundance (free trial) and next will be the remake of High Fidelity (as a series with Zoe Kravitz) on Starz

1. Books, books, glorious books! Load up at the public library before it closes or load up your e-reader. I have read 3 good books in a row: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, The Guilty Feminist by Deborah Frances-White, and Love Lives Here by Amanda Jette Knox. Next up is Debbie Harry’s Blondie memoir, Face It.

Between Thursday night and Friday morning of this week, everything about the pandemic suddenly got serious. Government announcements were coming fast and furious, and my workplace spent a whole day putting an emergency plan in place.

I am ever-so-thankful for our coordinated, national, free health care system, that already has pandemic plans in place because of the previous H1N1 and SARS scares.

The Library is offering an additional 2 weeks paid sick time for any staff who need it due to the virus or for family care.

Normally our house has a “just in time” food buying system. We buy only what we need and use it all up. Last week I brought in a couple of weeks’ worth of non-perishables, which felt very strange, since we usually eat all fresh fruit and veg (of course we have apples, oranges, carrots, etc.) I bought extra for our local food bank because not everyone can afford to stock up.

I did bring home a stack of library books for myself and another for my mom; not that I will have so much time – if the Library closes, I will work from home, and I have plenty of work to do. I am relieved I have a desk job now and I don’t work with the public. But at the same time, I miss having a staff team and being able to support each other.

I am worried about my dad who is stubbornly unlikely to stop going out, but on the plus side, he will find far fewer people to hang out with when he does go out. And I worry for my sister and sister-in-law who both work in health care environments. I am worried for co-workers who are out of the country, and hope they will get back in safely. I am sad for many more co-workers who have lost thousands of dollars on cancelled events and vacations during this annual school break week. I am concerned about schools and daycares closing, educational time being lost, and parents being overwhelmed.

Despite all this, there are no cases of Covid-19 in my province. Sometimes it is good to live in a remote area. There are 250 cases across Canada. And we are a geographically huge country. Compare to 21,157 in Italy, 2900 in France, 1629 in US, and 1140 in UK (as of March 13 and 14).

I hope everyone reading is healthy, safe, getting paid, staying in touch with loved ones, and able to get necessary supplies and services.

Please tell me how you’re doing, and what you’re doing, in the comments.









  1. I was supposed to go on a cruise with my husband, to celebrate his successful kidney transplant, and we found out today that it’s been cancelled. Not much information yet on when or how or IF we’ll be refunded, so it’s a bit of a double blow.

    I was planning to be on vacation, so have no work scheduled over the next two weeks. I guess that’s a plus(?), in that I can relax and get some reading done, or just generally veg if I feel like it.

    I live in WA state, which has been hugely affected by COVID-19. Many people are home – both with and without pay – instead of at work, and our K-12 schools have been shut down for the next six weeks. It’s a very strange situation, and I fear it will have negative financial consequences for many families. But we’re taking things one day at a time, and we do not take our good health for granted. 🙂

    • Oh no, Washington has been hard hit. I am glad you’re OK. Now is not the time for a cruise. I hope you will get a refund or reschedule! It is too bad about the loss of your vacation time but I hope you can make the best of it. Cheers!

  2. Good to read your post. DD and I are off school until April13. Her school will be virtual. We have been stocking up for the past 3 weeks because we are a small family and normally don’t have a ton of food around.
    I also want to read the new Debbie Harry book!
    May I also recommend the show “Breeders” from the UK? So funny.

    • It was just announced today (March 15) that schools, libraries and daycares will be closed for at least 3 weeks until April 6. Thanks for the recommendation! I see Breeders is on FX.

  3. Fiona

    What an absolutely lovely list. Very positive. I feel like printing that for the fridge.

    I’ve just discovered tonight that there are 3 teachers with Coronavirus at a school in the second road that J’s school is in. There’s also one student diagnosed, in Year 10. J’s in Year 10 and has 2 boys from Year 10 at the infected school in his basketball team.

    It’s all getting far too close for comfort. I’m likely going to keep J. out of school starting tomorrow.

    • By tomorrow (March 16), your schools will probably be closed. I look forward to hearing how your national experience with distance learning for children goes – for the teachers and the students!

  4. NicolaB

    At the moment we are carrying on almost as normal- aside from the advice to self isolate if you have certain symptoms, and the complete lack of toilet roll/kitchen roll/tissues/pasta/rice in most supermarkets, daily life is fairly normal. It probably helps that we don’t have any trips abroad planned, and we are not really sports fans.
    Everyone is talking about Covid-19, there is a lot of contingency planning happening at work (luckily the vast majority of us can work from home fairly easily). My partner is a teacher and his school have just cancelled all school trips abroad, as per government advice.
    The idea of cancelling everything and staying at home sounds quite appealing to me- though I find working from home pretty full compared to actually going to work! I have plenty of books to read and crafts to do, and house to clean and garden to work on! As long as I can take the dogs out for a walk, everyone will be happy enough!

    • I’ve just found out I’ll be working from home for 3 weeks. In theory I will love it – I do like to be home-based. But on the other hand, I rely on co-workers for daily (non-Rom) human contact and may not get much otherwise! Like you, I have plenty to do.

  5. What a lovely and positive list in a difficult situation. I second the food bank donations or to other charities that will help the many people already struggling financially that may tip over the edge due to this. I’m looking at the shut down differently having not been busy enough when everything was open and scheduled as I’m retired so now I am really at loose ends. I am brainstorming things to do that will keep my mind and body occupied. I had the luxury of being able to stock up on supplies a few weeks ago and always keep some on hand due to earthquake risk but now am trying to figure out when the grocery stores will have the fewest people and shop then. Our library closed yesterday as did the schools. I find in interesting that you think 3 months as in the US each state is taking it 2 or 3 weeks at a time probably to not freak people out totally.

    • Although I will be working from home for the next few weeks, I felt strangely out-of-sorts this weekend. It feels odd knowing that I won’t be going out to any sort of event, even if I avail myself of them sparingly the rest of the year!

  6. Mary

    Our state closed schools until March 30. Trying to ensure children who get breakfast/lunch at school are fed. Many folks now teleworking (if they can–not so for DH). Double-whammy for working parents–either finding childcare or trying to work at home with the quickly bored ‘darlings’ :). Libraries, museums and activity places all closed; no activities allowed if more than 250 people involved. I’m retired and an introvert so not a hardship for me to stay home; given my age (entering eighth decade this year), I’m just being prudent about my movements/interactions. Stay safe.

    • Hi Mary, I am glad you are exercising “an abundance of caution.” That is sure to be the phrase of the year! My library is giving staff paid time off but I find myself worrying about those who are not so fortunate – workers and businesses and all sorts of arts and culture organizations.

  7. In Ohio universities stopped face-2-face instruction, schools closed, events with more than 50 people are cancelled, restaurants are carry out or delivery only and they closed libraries, rec centers, movie theaters, gyms, bars, etc. I’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future. But our primary for tomorrow is still on. 🤷‍♀️

    I agree with you about being concerned for workers and small businesses who don’t have savings to see them through but they have announced support funding for them. As a shelter volunteer I’m also worried about animals. There were already more coming in than going out a few weeks ago. This could be bad for them too.

    • Hi Candi, Our local situation is the same. Except for the primaries! I thought everyone would at least be happy to stay home with their pets. I hear there are unfounded rumours going around that pets can catch and spread the virus.

  8. It’s a weird time! I’ve had a sore throat for a week plus. I’ve spent days in hospital visiting mum; and today she’s back in. The hospital staff have “changed”. EVeryone is in masks; there’s someone at entry to A&E with compulsory spritz of hand sanitiser.

    Ive not worked mon to wed, it’s only a sore throat – but I can’t be sure. Like I’m Listening to a nurse telling a family here’s in the waiting room that their patient has been swabbed for corona. There’s no way we can know if it’ll Ben positive or negative for that patient; then their family; and maybe us?! They’re a metre away, I didn’t need to strain to hear the nurse.

    Work continues. It’s been boring/slow lately. I feel outside of this crisis, i’d have worked. But I have an older team. And no way to work from home. But also, I feel like our company is worrying about the bottom line. And if, like Italy, they cancel funerals, I worry about the logistics of storage. And our wider company handles the repatriation from New Caledonia to France; which would usually require invasive prep; far too risky if corona is suspected.

    I collected two books and two magazines from the library today. But mainly, I’m glued to my phone.

    • Hi Sarah, I hope you’ve come around and you’re feeling better. Best wishes to your mom. I imagine all hospital visits are off by now?

      The effects on your industry are extraordinary and will require new disaster plans or regulatory action.

      I have managed to cut back on checking the news to 2-3 times a day rather than constantly!

  9. What a positive list! If you don’t mind I might borrow this for my school community. So busy. Most schools are still open. A few private schools have broken ranks and closed. Bets are in for different dates that we’ll close.

    I am exhausted. But compared to health workers, and supermarket and chemist workers, I can’t complain.

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