My Experience During a World Crisis – COVID-19 Pandemic
I did not think I would ever experience something like this in my lifetime much less write about it. It has been 20 days since the world, or at least the world closest to me changed before my eyes, never to be the same again.
To start I should mention some of the current world leaders. It’s important as everyone is following their guidance. At this moment, the Prime Minister of Canada is Justin Trudeau. He just won a second term for the Liberals. The President of the United States is Donald Trump. How that happened is a very long story and definitely one for the history books. He’s in his 3rd year of presidency at this time. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are currently running for the New Democrats for the next election.
Now everyone already knows about this, except for my 3 year old son. He will hopefully read this later in his life which is the main reason I am writing about it. To give you a bit of the back story to the best of my knowledge, earlier this month… March, 2020 a world wide pandemic was declared due to a highly contagious viral outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China a few months ago. The virus is much like another outbreak called SARS that occurred several years ago. That outbreak was nowhere near as serious as this one. This new virus originated from an animal and was soon transmitted from animal to human by ingesting the animal meat. The virus was first called Corona Virus, which completely destroyed the sales of Corona Beer, and then named COVID-19.
We spent the last 3 months watching the outbreak unfold, first in China and then into other countries as it spread through international travel by people that were infected but didn’t realize it. Some had very minimal symptoms which made it very difficult to detect.
Over the past few weeks we saw various stories on the news or social media showing cities suddenly put on lockdown. No one was aloud to leave their homes and strict rules were enforced to buy groceries and supplies. Photos taken by journalists covering the stories would show cities that were normally extremely busy and full of people, now completely empty. It was an eerie feeling, but hard to grasp an understanding of what was actually happening. Until it hit home of course.
Throughout the 3 months leading up to the outbreak in Vancouver, BC, stories would come up on the news of the odd person being diagnosed with COVID-19 but it seemed like it was under control. Hundreds of people weren’t getting sick all at once and things seemed pretty safe and normal until around March 12, 2020.
The week prior to March 12 we heard various stories about the outbreak from the USA just south of the Vancouver border. There were several outbreaks and an increasing number of deaths. I could sense it was getting closer, but no one really grasped the fact that it would actually hit us.
On March 11, 2020 I was scrolling through my Twitter feed reviewing the latest news on the outbreak. I think a lot of people were transfixed now since it was so close to home. I remember reading a headline “NBA Season Canceled Indefinitely”. That was big… that was something to be concerned about. The next morning the headlines read “NHL Season Canceled Indefinitely”. At this point I didn’t really know what to think. Was this really happening? By late afternoon the BC Government had enforced a closure of all public events. There was a mass cancelation of all large events including concerts, trade shows, parades and pretty much anything else that would draw a crowd larger than 50 people.
All of this didn’t really sink in right away. It was sort of a shock, but acceptance that it had to happen for a reason although we weren’t quite understanding why it had to happen. The head doctor in BC, Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix broke the news to the public and stated that in order to “Flatten the Curve” or in other words to stop this outbreak from spreading and getting worse, everyone had to stay indoors as much as possible and avoid being in large groups.
What followed was the closure of all restaurants, bars, coffee shops and any business that could not comply with an order of distancing employees by more than 2 meters.
Hundreds of thousands of Canadians lost their jobs in March, 2020.
By mid April more than 2 million Canadians had filed for unemployment.
After all of these restrictions were put on the table, widespread panic ensued and many people began to raid grocery stores buying everything in site. Items such as meat, pasta, canned goods and toilet paper disappeared incredibly fast. This took place day after day for over a week until they put restrictions in place to limit purchasing. We would all joke about our shopping experiences through our instant messaging groups. Posting pictures of empty shelves whenever we came across them. Some of the shelves just remained empty. They couldn’t replenish some things after a while.
Since the start of this, all Canadians have been asked to stay at home indoors as much as possible and to only go outside if necessary. If you do go outside you are to keep at least 2 metres distance between other people. The city of Vancouver has been very quiet the last few weeks. You still see people out walking, but it’s not the same as we were used to just a short time ago.
There are lineups to go to the bank, lineups to get into the grocery store and when you do finally get into the store, there is limited supply of a lot of different items and restrictions to purchase only one of two of certain products. Shelves are empty in most cases.
I just shared this photo to my social media accounts to show everyone how quiet the streets were for 8:00pm on a Sunday evening. Albeit there’s not a lot of traffic on a Sunday anyways, but this was shocking to me.
I lost a lot of work due to the COVID-19 outbreak. I was working with the Pacific National Exhibition doing email marketing for all of their events throughout the year. Since all events were canceled for the foreseeable future, I had to start looking for work with my other clients.
All of my clients have been really great throughout the crisis. Everyone is positive and pushing as hard as they can to stay alive. Being involved and able to help them through this is a great experience. Most of them scrambled to setup online stores or rework their business so that they could sell more online. I think online purchases will really become a standard now. Much more so than they already are.
Last week at the beginning of April the state of emergency was extended for an additional 2 weeks. While BC doesn’t seem to have a huge situation with infection, in order to stop it we need to continue staying indoors and away from other people. I have a feeling these restrictions will be in place for several weeks.
Lately I have been taking walks at night when there are very few people around. Scouting locations for photographs and just enjoying the spring air. I have also been taking my son to Barnet Marine Park for beach walks during the day. It’s a very wide open park with not too many people around. All the same, being outside can be very stressful.
One of the more positive things about this crisis is that it has brought communities together, even though we need to distance ourselves from each other. Every evening at 7:00pm we gather on our porches to make loud noise and cheer to send thanks to the first responders working in the hospital. In some areas it is a really big deal, especially those close to hospitals. They even changed the time of the 9:00 gun to blast at 7:00pm, another event for the history books.
Update on April 23, 2020
Lots has happened in the last two weeks, but not a lot has changed. All local businesses are still closed but a lot of people have managed to start making things work with limited resources or changing their entire business model to be available online.
The virus is still around, but it seems to be starting to fade away just a little bit. We are very lucky in BC as there haven’t been that many serious cases with a fairly low number of deaths. The rest of Canada appears to be a lot worse.
We have been a little bit more brave and started getting take out coffee again. It’s been over 1 month since we have visited a Starbucks. JJ Bean is open across the street so we have been going there a couple of times. Almost all restaurants are still either closed or offering takeout only. I hope they are able to survive.
One of the more major issues to note is that Translink, the bus company that services the lower mainland has had a decrease of 80% in ridership. They are losing so much money they have canceled numerous bus routes and have started to lay off several thousand employees. Digging out of this hole will take a very long time, even after the economy is somewhat back to normal.
BC Ferries is also a company that has seen a drop in ridership and is losing money. They have also laid off several workers, yet they are supposed to be an essential service.
A dramatic shift will occur in the next few months with thousands of workers deciding whether or not to go back to work for who they were just working for or to try something new.
We still go on regular walks every day around the neighbourhood. We take the same route and try to avoid running into other people wherever possible. Most people wear masks wherever they go even though it doesn’t really reduce the chances of catching the virus. It might help reduce spreading it a little bit. Masks have become quite the trend now and lots of people are making their own at home with various fabric. Since this pandemic might last a year, it’s going to be quite the fashion statement when we’re aloud to be closer to one another.
There are talks from the government about reducing some restrictions in the next couple of weeks and allowing some businesses to go back to work. They may re-open schools with special rules such as kids going on alternate days in order to continue with social distancing guidelines. It’s going to be strange, but it will probably work. I definitely feel bad for the kids graduating this year. All of their end of year celebrations have been canceled. Most kids are devastated.
With all of the big events being canceled I am losing more and more work. Work that I have been doing steadily for the past 10 years. It’s an interesting change and has allowed me to focus on different things and find new avenues to get different types of business. I hope that it doesn’t die down anytime soon.
Update on April 26
The big news this past week is that somehow Donald Trump suggested that the heat, sunlight and ingesting bleach and lysol will cure the virus. He said it with such sincerity that it was like a bomb dropped. Of course anyone with a little bit of common sense thought… this isn’t right. But apparently lots of people believed him and there were several cases of poisoning after this happened. All of the chemical cleaning brands such as Lysol and Clorox had to quickly release statements that ingesting their products will harm you and does not cure a virus. Incredible what things can happen during a crisis.
The other news is possible good news as some countries are beginning to loosen their lockdown restrictions and slowly reopen the economy. New Zealand in particular went through a full month lockdown that was very strict with rules in place that you could only leave your home for emergencies or to buy groceries. Everything was closed. Saskatchewan will be the first province in Canada to reopen slowly and to test the waters of social distancing while people go about their daily lives.
I think that we are close to loosening restrictions, but it’s still a couple of weeks away at least. They are being very cautious here which is good. It’s putting peoples patience to the test though and there have been some protests lately of groups that do not believe this entire outbreak is really a big deal. I guess they haven’t gotten sick and know of no one that has.