On Day 4 of Quarantine, Seriousness, and Preparedness in the Era of Covid-19

I am writing this from my apartment in Switzerland. An apartment I haven’t left in four days due to symptoms similar to Covid-19. Here in Switzerland, there are no tests available for those outside vulnerable groups or those with serious symptoms. We probably won’t be able to leave the house for another ten to fourteen days.

We’re both fine. My wife’s symptoms have passed and I only have the lingering spectre of lung pain and body ache to remind me that I’m not fully over it. We’re both thirty-six so our bout with Covid-19 is pretty typical. I’ll likely be better by tomorrow. We’re still going to maintain quarantine until we are ten to fourteen days past symptoms because that’s what this is about. To stop this virus we need to stop its spread.

Last Friday the Swiss government implemented some restrictions but mainly appealed to people’s common sense in social distancing. Over the weekend, restaurants, bars, and other public places were packed with a large, defiant portion of the country who wouldn’t let this virus keep them down. On Monday the Swiss government shut down everything but grocery stores, pharmacies, food delivery, limited transportation, and hotels. The country is locked down and the borders are closed. All of that should have happened on Friday because here’s the thing…


We are coming into this pandemic in a time when people think the world is flat, that vaccines are dangerous, and that Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are the right people to lead anything let alone a nation. We are coming at this with a large part of the populace that are skeptical of science. Science is the only thing that will get us through this pandemic but only if people start to take it seriously. This is a serious event with very serious physical, social, cultural, economic, and emotional risks. From what I saw over the weekend, in this country and my own across the pond, we can’t trust people to use common sense and mitigate those risks.

If we are going to get ahead of this we need to listen to the doctors, scientists, and specialists. We must educate people on why everyone needs to implement social distancing and why those who suspect infection, as we do, need to self-quarantine. The difference between choosing to do so right now and not choosing to, or to delay, is the difference between Italy and China. Italy currently has more deaths than China but with only half the total cases. The difference is response time by both governments and citizens. Both need to work together.

The other thing I’d like to bring up as I sit here in my pajamas, again, and am unlikely to change out of them today, is preparedness. Panic buying is not helpful to anyone. You’ll end up with bulk supplies of stuff you don’t need and be missing things you do. Plus, you’re snaking supplies from others who do need them. But panic buying is not the same a stocking up for quarantine and that is very important distinction. One I think a lot of good people are forgetting in an attempt to do the right thing.

One of the first things that struck me about the prospect of quarantine was that the often recommended two week supply of food and household goods might not be enough depending on your circumstances. I spent over a week slowly building up a one month supply instead and I’m so glad I did. Here’s why.

My wife and I live in a two bedroom apartment. There is no way that we weren’t both getting sick if one of us did. We got lucky and were sick at the same time. If I had gotten sick and my wife had come down with it toward the end of our fourteen day quarantine, that starts the cycle over again with a new fourteen day round. But what if we only had fourteen days of food? We’d need to leave, go to a grocery store when we should be isolated, and potentially spread this thing to more people. A one month supply keeps that from happening. A one month supply ensures that the risk of us spreading this thing is almost null. I don’t want my poor/misguided/misinformed planning to lead to anyone else’s death.

Covid-19 is real, and it’s here, and it’s going to be for a long time. Many governments are being very honest with their citizens, many are not. What all of them are doing is trying to avoid panic. Things are going to get worse before they get better. Take care of yourselves and (remotely) take care of those you know and even those you don’t. We’re all in this together and fighting this together. A collective focus on science and social duty is how we make it through.

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