Pandemic Survival 7: Reality Bites

We are back in lockdown.

It started with flare ups in a handful of suburbs linked to errors made in the process of hotel quarantine of returned travellers. While the government has accepted responsibility, in reality it stems from the same place as most problems in the world – human beings not doing the right thing.

Unfortunately, as anyone who lives in a bushfire-prone country knows and that we tragically learned last summer, spot fires can turn into blazes and blazes produce flying embers that start more fires and thus a handful of people not doing the right thing leads to a whole state back in lockdown.

Lockdown 2a

It’s generally agreed that the second lockdown is harder than the first. Like a prisoner being granted parole, tasting freedom and then being told “oops, we made a mistake, back into jail you go”. The first time around we were “all in this together” but now we watch our fellow Aussies in the West attending footy matches with 30,000 people and the ones up North enjoying local attractions while just over the border theatres are reopening. Borders are now closed to anyone from this pariah state.

Eb20Yo6UcAEMizV

I’m fortunate to live outside the state capital which has just been moved to Stage 4 restrictions including a 8pm to 5am curfew. The rest of the state has returned to the Stage 3 restrictions we were under in the first wave. In addition, the government has issued a statewide mask mandate.

Fun With Fabric

The rescheduled Great Ocean Road Running Festival has gone virtual again and they have extended the time to complete the runs from two days to a week to allow for participants under Stage 4 restrictions to complete the distances as they can only exercise outside for one hour a day. Is it churlish of me to be jealous that they can score an Ultra Marathon medal by running 10km a day for 6 days while I have to do the whole 60km in one hit?

Probably. And no, I don’t want to swap places.

We were fortunate as a country to flatten our curve quickly with a rapid shutdown when the first wave started. We didn’t see the horrifying numbers reported out of other places. So it never seemed all that bad for most of us.

I got three reality checks in this past week.

1. A Dystopian Movie

Mortal Engines

The mask rule came in last Sunday night. As I drove the Youngest Son to school on Monday for his last day of on-campus learning for this term (with a return to remote learning as of Thursday), the sight of all those kids in masks walking into school was unsettling and I’ll confess I got teary.

2. Bad Neighbours

Bad Neighbours

The news report that a cluster had emerged, including at least one death, at a nursing home only three kilometres from my home brought the virus right into my suburb. The dangers seem more real.

3. Close Encounters of the Virus Kind

Close Encounters

Two days ago we were informed there had been a diagnosed case of COVID-19 at our son’s school. Yesterday we were informed by DHHS that the Youngest Son has been identified as a close contact of the infected student. He is now in quarantine, limited to his bedroom, his desk in the living room and the bathroom (which he shares with his brothers so has to sanitise each time he goes in or out). He cannot sit at the dinner table with us for meals. He cannot enter the kitchen and must ask for assistance if he needs to eat. Treating your own child like a leper is not something I remember from the parenting books. So far he has not shown any symptoms for which we are thankful and we hope and pray that it stays that way.

I’ve always been grateful that we have not been as hard hit by this virus as so many other places in the world and I know I am fortunate to have a safe place to shelter.

I still feel that way but I’ll admit that reality has given us a kick in the shins this week and that is not a comfortable feeling.

Kid kicking

Stay safe out there wherever you may be.

42 thoughts on “Pandemic Survival 7: Reality Bites

  1. Actually I dunno that I ‘like’ your post, darlin H: I had zero idea of your family being so closely affected by the pandemic. Poor bloody no. 3 ! – and poor all of you. Your fly-by visit with bread the other was extremely frustrrating, but the bread gets better all the time. I’m wondering what happens when it’s reached perfection ..
    I hope at least that there is some music in your working days to keep you sane-ish. But then, you’e so much stronger a person now that I might not need to worry about you at all !
    My love to the whole five, and the weirdo who sleeps aorund. [grin]

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, it is a bummer and I don’t know how to make you feel better. Social isolation from people outside the home is bad enough but within a family it must be so hard.
    Under essential business allowed open are wine shops yet Bunning is closed except for PickUps. Oddly enough no one is banned from ocean surfing, yet the number of shark attacks per head of population that goes in the water surely is higher than Covid?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope your son remains symptom free. We have remained in stage-2 restrictions since mid-June. It’s ok. I guess We’re getting used to it. We are about to start school, and I’m still not sure if our town is in school, remote or a mix. We don’t have anyone in school, so…

    Take care, stay safe.

    PS, I love your map πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • In recognition of the extra pressures on parents, our special needs schools have stayed open which meant I retained my casual work but now I’m not sure I’ll be able to work until the Youngest Son passes quarantine. Legally I can but given the vulnerable cohort at my school I’m not sure so I’ll call them on Monday to work out what I can or can’t do.

      I guess we’re all getting used to a ‘new normal’. I’ve gotten used to the mask wearing and don’t mind it quite so much but it’s still a constant reminder that life is not the same.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I hope your son is okay and all of you will be okay too. It must be so unsettling being in contact and knowing with someone who is a confirmed case. Who knows what can happen in these instances and one case can turn into many – and those infected have to stay isolated until they test negative, and there’s no timeframe for that.

    So agree lockdown the second time round is harder. I’m in Greater Melbourne where the curfew is. The curfew doesn’t affect me as I don’t usually go out at night. But knowing the shops are shut and thinking perhaps you might need something pretty urgent and can’t get it, that’s not a nice feeling. I am optimistic we will all get through this. Stay safe, and good luck with coming up on tops in your next run πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mabel, I’ve been thinking of you living in Melbourne and how strange and stressful it must be to be living under conditions never seen in our lifetimes. I’m happy to hear you are staying optimistic. I’m also trying to stay positive, keep busy and believe that everything will work out.

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  5. Heather I’m sorry to hear of your son having to be isolated. that has to be hard on all of you and as you say when you become a parent there is no how to guide on this situation. Sending very best wishes and hoping he and all of you stay well. Super cute masks by the way. XO

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, as a parent, we are never comfortable with our kids enduring something they shouldn’t have to and this is no different. He is well and I feel confident he’ll get through okay but it’s impossible as a mother not to feel anxious anyway.

      Making fun masks as been something of a remedy to the situation. πŸ™‚

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  6. I’m sorry to read about your son, but trust that everything will work out for the best for him, for you. We are currently free to roam around our county, day or night… but with the schools opening I imagine that’ll end soon. The masks are cute, btw. Good job.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh Heather, how distressing for your family. Sending healthy vibes your way as your youngest progresses through his quarantine period. Life just seems very challenging in these days of Covid! πŸ’•πŸ€—

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was shocked just to find out the school had a positive case of COVID-19. We had very few cases in our city in the first wave. Then to get the message the next day that our son was one of the close contacts…. Well, it wasn’t something we were prepared for to be honest. Still, he’s healthy and we will find out this week if he is negative. At least the schools have already closed so staying home is not a big deal.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s so hard to know what to believe, Heather. I read this right on the heels of a Swedish doctor’s proposal that the world has hugely overreacted to this virus, and that it ought to have been allowed to run its course, as in Sweden. My husband has believed that from the very start too. The media has done its best to frighten us witless, but the vast majority of people who have died might well have done so within the year, and they’ve had to do it without the comfort of family close by. Our governments have all taken their different stances and who knows who’s right? But for all that, it’s very scary when it comes knocking at your door. I’m sorry, hon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In Victoria, despite all precautions major outbreaks are occurring in aged care homes. Some of these people might have died regardless. But as someone trained and qualified in aged care I tremble at the havoc this would wreak *without* the stringent precautions, and I salute the very high proportion of health workers and care providers who have themselves contracted COVID (and are therefore not able to care for other patients across the community, such as my sister, who was the last person to benefit from major surgery before her hospital ward was turned into a COVID ward).

      Liked by 2 people

    • I believe the science, Jo. And the general consensus science, not the outliers. And yes, it keeps changing but that’s the nature of science. You work with the evidence available at the time and as this is a new disease, that evidence will keep changing and updating. I think different approaches taken by governments also comes down to what its citizenry will accept. In the case of Sweden, they obviously could accept a high death toll in exchange for longer term economic gain (although there are signs that their economy is not doing much better than other countries who locked down and have a fraction of the deaths). That level of facilitated death for economic gain would not wash here. Sweden has a population of 10.3 million and has had 5,766 deaths (560 deaths per million) and they seem okay with that. Our state has a population of 6.4 million and has had 193 deaths (30 deaths per million) and our government is getting slammed. It’s also generally agreed that we won’t know which approach was right until years down the track really. It’s certainly a challenging situation for everyone.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I hope #3 is all clear, Heather. My cousin’s daughters contracted COVID and came through fine. I know the contagion risk must be stressing you and I do agree it’s very necessary to get clear on how this affects your employment. One step at a time. Much love xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure he’ll be fine. He has no symptoms at this stage (Day 9) and the student who was diagnosed has only mild symptoms so it looks good. It’s just natural to worry about your kids, I guess. I’ll contact work on Monday and find out what they want me to do. As long as the son comes up as negative it won’t be more than this week I’ll be away if necessary.

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  10. Yikes! That must be hard to have to isolate your child.

    I remember when my kids were young, when one got the measles or chicken pox, we shrugged and kind of hoped the other two kids would too. Then we could strike one childhood disease off the list! How times have changed…

    I seem to remember that when ‘flatten the curve’ was being advised, the thought was that it would keep the health care system from being overwhelmed, but it wasn’t going to lower the number of people who actually got Covid. I wonder how many people have to get it before it burns itself out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • With all the unknowns about how badly affected a person can be and the possible long term impacts, this is not a disease to mess around with so we’ll do what we can to minimise anyone else getting it. At least we haven’t confined him to his room. He is a child who needs some supervision with online learning so we needed to let him maintain use of his desk in the public space to be able to continue monitoring his learning. At being stuck at home isn’t so bad when everybody else is pretty much in the same boat anyway.

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  11. Oh, your poor son! I hope he manages the quarantine situation and comes out the other side safe and well. My sister in law is in the same situation and is at home in quarantine too.

    I’d like to congratulate you on saying it like it is as to who caused this terrible outbreak. I cannot believe that the few people in hotel quarantine and the security personnel on duty did not understand the expectations placed upon them and it makes me quite angry to know that so many people are sick and some have died, and our economy is threatened again just because a few people had no self control. This should never have happened and, although the government will end up taking the blame, it should be acknowledged that they are doing their best under very difficult circumstances. The people who did this will know forever it is their fault.

    I hope you all stay well and safe and best wishes to your son.

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    • Thanks for your supportive comment, Carol. I was getting really annoyed with those slamming the government (especially the opposition who were calling for the Premier’s resignation πŸ™„ ) without acknowledging that it would not have happened if people had done what they knew they were supposed to do and, more importantly, not done what they knew they shouldn’t do. No doubt the people complaining that it’s all the government’s fault are also the same ones that complain about the ‘nanny state’. Can’t have it both ways, people. I have been heartened that the PM has refused to be drawn into the argument and instead has pointed out that it could have happened anywhere.

      All the best to your sister-in-law. At least we are all in lockdown and pretty much stuck at home anyway so he doesn’t feel quite so singled out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My SIL has plenty of family support and a sister next door so she’ll be fine.

        I just think all the people who complain need to stop a moment and think about two things. Would they like to do the job? And how would they do things differently? It must be so difficult for our leaders, no matter which side they’re on, right now.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m glad you wrote this post, Heather. You had been on my mind as news of the second wave in Victoria started to come out and the growing numbers of infected. Hopefully your son will continue to do well but I’m sure this has been a very challenging several days.

    Stay well!! … and love your masks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We were doing okay because most of the surge in cases was in Melbourne but we’ve certainly had a hit of reality this week. Just found out tonight that one of our son’s best friends from school has just tested positive so it will be an even more anxious few days until we find out if our son is in the clear.

      It makes it easier to stick to the mask rule if you have something fun to wear. πŸ™‚

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  13. It has been atrocious here in the U.S. – it was not handled well at all. As a private duty nurse for kids who have disabilities , are medically compromised or other wise at risk, it seems horrifying to me that our leaders have determined it should be ok for kids to go back to school . Since schools have been closed, i have not once been sick as opposed to over 20 years where i got some type of cold or virus at least 3-4 times a year during the kids school year. Siblings bring stuff home, teachers do as well, then it’s a trickle down to us caretakers. I know parents here are getting very frustrated and cannot afford to stay home and are exhausted with homeschooling, but i feel that online is the way to go for awhile . even hiring a full-time sitter to help is better than risking the germs that kids inevitably spread. They aren’t adults and do not always make good hygiene decisions. Just my 2 cents..hugs and good vibes for your son and family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your thoughtful and knowledgeable comment. It has been pointed out that normal flu cases here this winter have been massively low – a lesson in what extra sanitary practices can achieve, I guess. Our schools were only open a few weeks and we had very low case numbers anyway but here we are with numerous schools reporting cases even in those short weeks and we are back in lockdown. I can’t believe there are places in the US even contemplating reopening schools when they haven’t even got community spread under control. I feel for you and hope you manage to stay safe and especially that decisions are made that will allow you to keep the kids you work with safe. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Pandemic Survival Answers | Master of Something I'm Yet To Discover

  15. It is all very unsettling. I hope all goes well for your son, I can’t imagine how hard it is for him to have to quarintine with all of you and for you having to distance yourself so. We’ve had a mask mandate here in NJ for months so I’m used to it now (which is unsettling in itself!) but our numbers in this area are going up again due to the fact you mentioned- people aren’t doing the right thing. In our case the “people” are the college students in the next town over. Classes are all virtual but they moved back into dorms and apartments last month and proceeded to have parties and gatherings with out any precautions. They now have hundreds of cases on campus which have proceeded to spread to the surrounding towns. It’s very frustrating! All we can do I suppose is to keep pecking away doing what we can one day at a time. Be well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Nancy. Not sure I’ll ever get used to the mask thing. When I’m at home I can kind of forget what’s happening out there but when you leave home and you see all those masks, it’s impossible not to stop and realise this moment in history through which we are living.
      We were fortunate that the son was clear and that our town (and indeed state) is now well on the way to flattening that curve. Fortunately, the Premier is taking a slowly, slowly approach to reopening so as not to set off yet another wave. I have been watching the news from the US and it hasn’t been good but it sounds like you may have some sensible local leaders which would be helping. Stay safe.

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