Dunno about anyone else, but things are going crazy in New York.
Many schools were closed on Friday. Those that weren’t announced they would be closed Monday. By Friday, the ones closed Monday were not closed through this coming Friday. Many are closed until the following Friday and some won’t open for 5 more weeks. Several colleges are physically closed through the spring term. All CUNY and SUNY campuses are shut down.
This morning, the roads were basically dead. Like no one wanted to leave to go into work. Almost no cars the entire morning, yet everyone made it into my office today, most of the building arrived too from what I understand.
Not long after, I hear this really heavy breathing coming from somewhere, but no idea where. Heavier and heavier. No one else can hear it, apparently, but I can hear it very loudly. Just the weird acoustics of the place. Then I hear crying, loudly. Whoever it was, wherever they were, the women had a sudden panic attack with all the stuff going on and someone had to run over and was able to calm her down and get her laughing again.
My supervisor mentions an email that went out to several union members last night that I did not recieve. Apparently, 1 of 4 unions, PEF (mine) made some sort of deal with the governor’s office or the department or whatever that said non-essential employees could telecommunicate from home. We also have the option of working a reduced schedule or shift hours around. They’re expanding the normal hours from 6am to 10pm, letting people do split shifts whenever they want and work on Saturdays.
Our office director went to everyone to ask if they had access to a computer at home and the internet. She put in that the entire office was non-essential to daily operations and couple work from home. Said we could get a response within the next 24 hours as to whether we could work at home. I guess they have a program that can be opened in a browser within a PC or Mac that can let everyone do the work we do remotely. We just need permissions to access it.
A friend in the CEC (Cultural Education Center) said their building is now officially closed to he public. The CEC is a state museum and library for the most part and everyone who works on Saturday (public only) will now have that day off. She asked if our building was also now closed, as we sometimes get unscheduled visitors. No idea, but word comes that Governor Cuomo had a press conference.
It is declared all casinos are closed, all gyms closed, all movie theaters closed as of 8pm, all restaurants and bars closed to the public as of 8pm with the only exception being delivery and takeout. Businesses are being told to close earlier and police are no longer patrolling the streets. Police are, instead, doing door-to-door checkups on those who have been manually ordered to remain quarantined. People are told to stand at least 6 feet distance from what another.
News update that the infected tally for Albany County (my county) rose from 8 this morning to 15 by this afternoon. The number of infected in the US as of this afternoon was 2,134. Of that, 950 (or 44.5%) are in New York.
Around this time, our office director comes over and huddles everyone. Said they submitted an official request to have us all work from home, for the next 2 weeks to the foreseeable future. Says they are waiting for official approval. Should have it by tomorrow. Check emails tonight before we sleep and tomorrow before we come into work.
Word just before 2pm comes in that one of the infected attended a Church one town over in Latham on March 8th, 3 days before my birthday and 2 days before my aunt’s funeral. I told my supervisor about this. She immediately texted her family. Her brother was at that mass. He, and everyone else who attended, are ordered to quarantine themselves until March 22. And, although he shows no signs of symptoms, his sister, my supervisor, realizes that their whole family had dinner together recently and she’s had a mild cough for the last week.
Not looking good.
Then everyone is telling stories about how all the stores have no food, no toilet paper, no sanitizer. Everyone is buying up everything like crazy and there is nothing left. I have stuff at my house in decent quantities, but I filled my freezer up BEFORE all this shit went down. I was lucky. I just like having stuff on hand in case I need it. But then my supervisor tells me how her power went out for a little while over the weekend and I start thinking the worst, like when we had the east coast blackout for a couple days back in 2003. And I start thinking about taking the bus to commute and people on there being sick and carrying it from one place to another. Then I start thinking about my mother getting up there in age with not the best immune system.
At this point, I notice that I’m starting to get a little lightheaded and not being able to think straight. My heart is starting to beat rapidly. I realize that I’m not sick, but I’m starting to get a panic attack. I haven’t had a panic attack like this in 18 years. So I get up and take a walk for a bit to calm down. And every office in the building is pulling people off to the side to talk about contingency plans and no one knows if they’ll be working tomorrow or home or where their kids are going to be or their parents health and so for.
I get back to my desk and my supervisor turns to me. Her mother is not in the best of health and she spoke to her while we were away. She finds out from her mother that they all had dinner with her brother the day BEFORE the Church mass and, therefore, could not have become sick by him. Good for them, maybe not so much for the brother though. Time will tell.
The office director comes over and tells everyone they need to huddle. She got word that our office was deemed “essential” to the building. No one knows why, other than one of the unions struck a deal to work from home, but the department has no plan or resources available to actually make it happen. So everyone is deemed essential. BUT, we’re told that we can do 50/50 time. So she asks for volunteers for Tuesday/Thursday and Wed/Friday. I offer Tuesday and Thursday, so now I get to stay home for Wednesday and get a longer weekend indoors. She said they hope to change our status to non-essential, along with other offices, as they are able to access the status of each one individually.
I check with old supervisors in other offices and with my girlfriend. My old supervisors also had a meeting about working from home. Last I heard, they were not instructed on their status. My girlfriend tells me they are approved to work 1 day of the week, rotate the shift and then they’re prepping to work from home starting Monday. Great for her and her kids.
As I’m leaving for the day, I get a text from her and call her. Looks like her office jumped the gun and she’d now told that not only are they not working from home next week, but her office has to be there every day because they are deemed essential. Why are they essential? Because their office relies on handling paperwork from other offices and they can’t take the paperwork home. So she’s told hat while some offices get to go home for 2(+) weeks and charge no time and others get 1/2 days (mine), she has to work the entire time… even though she has two kids and no school. She can’t bring them in and if she’s out, she has to charge her own time.
I end up heading to Walmart to pick up stuff for myself, my mother and my girlfriend. In here probably 90 minutes. Every freezer case is empty and barren. Almost no bread, except for a few artisan ones and fresh stuff they made. All the deli meat and the deli case stuff is sold out. Nothing. No frozen veggies, no chicken nuggets, no hot dogs, no pasta, no soup, no cold cuts. No gallons of spring water at all. Everyone swooped in and go it all. I didn’t even look for toilet paper, tissues or paper towels. No point.
I did look for Aloe Vera, as their website said they had limited quantities, but sure enough, there was none. I could at least make my own hand sanitizer if I had some. I have enough rubbing alcohol here from my days cleaning up old busted video game controllers.
Next stop was Sam’s Club. My brother needed stuff and his card expired, so I was going to meet him there. They were also out of almost everything. Except pickles. Damn it all but I’m happy knowing I can still get pickles during the apocalypse. And cheese. There was some cheese. So I go that and some tomatoes. Also almost out of meet, fresh or frozen. No toilet paper or paper towels either. No pasta.
They had six bags of this beef fajita stuff that my brother likes. I grabbed him 2 bags and got one for me. I usually get the chicken, but oh well.
I get home after everything is said and done. $269 I spent tonight between Walmart and Sam’s Club and I have no idea what the hell I spent it on.
I go online to see where things stand. As of 9:05, two direct neighboring towns have declared a state of emergency. Public buildings are closed, libraries are closed weeks out. nursing homes and jails can no longer accept visitors. Meals for the elderly are being cancelled. One of the four big hospitals in the area has revoked visitors for all patients excluding children admitted to the hospital, maternity units and patients receiving end of life care. Those that can see visitors can only have ONE person visit them and must be 18-years-old, have no symptoms or illness, including respiratory or fever and be an immediate family member, guardian or have power of attorney.
Then I read that some countries are basically not even bothering to treat people over the age of 80 and I see stuff like this…