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Let’s talk Coronavirus…

by Lori Twichell
Let’s talk Coronavirus. I’ve been kind of quiet on it other than sharing news stories because this is a local story for me. My news feeds on various social media sites are  split pretty definitively. I have friends who are convinced this is the end of everything and we’re all going to die. I also have friends who believe it’s a full on hoax meant to mess with elections and they are pretty much scoffing at those who are concerned. 
Where you stand on the issue doesn’t matter to me, really.  Your opinions don’t change anything about my life or how it’s affecting my family and friends.  But I have been asked a lot about it lately so I thought maybe it was time to share some things you may not realize if you’re outside San Antonio.   Where I can, I will link to our news articles so you can see where I am getting my information. (Sidenote: This is what I know – if something is wrong in this information, I apologize and will corrrect it accordingly – just be kind please.)

About that Quarantine
First of all, the federal government ordered the evacuees from affected areas around the world to be brough here, to JBSA Lackland to be quarantined. That’s a military base which is federal property. The ‘quarantine’ is really not what most people think it is. It’s not happening in a hospital or containment facility. It’s happening in a desginated area of the base. There is a military hospital right there (Wilford Hall) that was closed a few years ago but still has a walk in clinic.For whatever reason, they have not chosen to run the quarantine from that facility.  That would make sense to me – to keep it all in one contained location, but maybe there’s more to that decision that I don’t understand. To the best of my knowledge though, this is a federal government/military decision.

Once anyone in quarantine get a positive result, they are taken to a local hospital off base. In the general population of the city of San Antonio. Our local government officials have not been happy with this and honestly, neither are the residents. Yes, they are under protocols and everyone is doing their best to contain it, but the fact is, they are not kept in some hospital room or locked down on some military base with minimal transporting.  Let me repeat that. Once they are diagnosed POSITIVE with the Coronavirus, they are taken to a local hospital in San Antonio where the general population are still going for other illnesses, injuries, etc. I know measures are being taken to contain it, but that’s still the fact. People known to have it are at local hospitals where the general public is going.  Every time someone mentions that it’s really impacting those with compromised immune systems, my mind goes straight to the hospital where the positive patients have been admitted – along with those already fighting cancer, pneumonia, illness and injury. That doesn’t feel like what is typically understood as a quarantine. Federally ordered quarantine on federal property that immediately gets handled on a local city-wide level when there’s a positive diagnosis.

But wait, there’s more…

This weekend, in case you didn’t know already, the CDC/federal government released someone who had been quarantined because they had two negative test results. However, there was still a test pending. AFTER this person went to a local mall (the same mall my girls were at the day before this) and ate in the food court, rode a shuttle back to a hotel, etc…then the positive results came in. Officials have stated it was a ‘weakly positive’ result. Not sure what that means. They had to go find this person and put them BACK into quarantine – for whatever that’s worth. It feels a little like trying to get toothpaste back into the tube at this point. Everyone keeps saying ‘low risk of exposure’ but I’m still not exactly sure what that means. I’m not sure anyone really does. This person wasn’t from the cruise ship or other areas. This person was from Wuhan.  So it’s not a secondary ‘in proximity’ type thing like the cruise ship, etc.  A State of Emergency was declared yesterday in the city. Our local officials even tried to file a court order asking for evacuees and those quarantined to stay on base and out of the general population. It was knocked down by a local judge who said we can’t overstep the federal government’s decisions on this. 

Most recent news

A few minutes ago, it was announced that they are releasing over 120 evacuees who had been quarantined. This, less than 24 hours after news of the other person having been in highly populated areas of town for over 12 hours. Their reasoning this time? Well, these people have all had 2 negative tests. So did the person released this weekend.  No matter where you stand on whether Coronavirus is going to kill us all, you have to see how this is so tone deaf to the city of San Antonio. We are one of the largest cities in the country. There was a lot of freaking out yesterday. People are scared.  The news has been telling us for months how horrible this thing is and now we know it’s here and the quarantine didn’t exactly work as planned. And now you want to release over a hundred people the day after a pretty epic mistake and loophole in the system? And you want us to trust you? 

Last night University Health officials urged people NOT to go to the ER if they are worried they were exposed.  However, a quick glance at the comments on this same article on Facebook  shows that officials are saying not to go to the ER but to walk in clinics, but those same clinics are putting up signs and telling people they can’t do anything about Coronavirus – to go to an ER.

San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the country and the mishandling of this, the tone deaf nature of releasing 120+ evacuees less than 24 hours after this colossal quarantine mess up, and the misinformation is creating havoc and panic. It’s not going away – it’s just climbing and growing. It’s getting bigger and it feels like there is very little being done to logically address these things with those of us who live here. The media hyped us up for months with all the terrorizing stories coming out of China and now we’re being forced to watch as they try to walk it back to ‘low impact’ and ‘trust us on protocols.’ Those two ideas don’t mesh. You can’t build up the hype and clickbait this thing to death while at the same time, trying to assuage fears and concerns.

Do I think this is going to be the end of civilization and we’re all going to die from Coronavirus? No. Not at all. And I know the flu statistics so please don’t quote those at me. Countering all the chaos from Coronavirus with even uglier statistics doesn’t help the anxiety of what’s happening here.

The Ripple Affect…

Our local stores have begun limiting the amount of cleaning supplies you can get.    People are turning to warehouses and online shopping but a quick perusal of Amazon will show you hand sanitizer is now going for outrageous prices – sometimes hundreds of dollars.         

Do you see that one pack of 24???  Those are two ounce bottles – 48 ounces of hand sanitizer for $400??? That’s crazy.   Friends all across town are worried they won’t be able to get the simple things like soap and sanitizer that will help them with Coronavirus AND the flu.                

My kids were at that mall the day before the person who tested positive was there. That brings it home. I have friends who were there the day after. I know some people who aren’t big on social media who were there with their toddler yesterday morning – before the mall closed for a ‘deep cleaning.’

My daughter works in the food industry here in town. Yesterday she was told that corporate HQ for her store was thinking about possibly closing ALL of the locations in San Antonio until the threat passes. Many of the people she works with are living paycheck to paycheck and they are being told to try to put savings together…now? It’s crazy.  Those people I love and support that she works with could lose income over this and they aren’t able to just hang  out until the panic is over. Oh and it’s not permitted for them to have any kind of soap or hand sanitizer on the floor and they are unable to go wash their hands after every customer, so they’re IN IT for both flu and Coronavirus.

SXSW is having issues as well. Many of my friends in the film industry are concerned and might be losing income over this. That’s very real for me.

No matter how you feel about Coronavirus, the impact and the way it’s being handled is a very real concern. As my daughter said today, “I’m not concerned about Coronavirus. I’m more concerned about all the bad things happening around it and all the people who are panicking. That’s scaring me more than the virus.”

Here’s what I am doing about it. 

I’m washing my hands a lot. I’m limiting a lot of our big, public outings and ventures. My kids are constantly being hounded to wash their hands and not touch things. But the most important thing is this:

I encourage you to really dive into this scripture. No matter what your life circumstances are today, this passage can help you have release from the anxiety and stress. I can’t do anything about Coronavirus or the spread of it beyond what I am doing right now. The rest is up to God. Thankfully He is the source of my strength and my hope. If he isn’t yours and you have questions, please, let me know.  And if you’re reading this, no matter who you are, please know that I appreciate you and am praying for you.