By Michael Gold
COVID-19 feels like watching a horror movie, except I’m in it. We’re all in it.
The loneliness of the lockdown, the shut-in nature of the sensible response to this insidious virus has made our family feel a little on edge. My daughter misses walking to school. She misses waiting with her friends in the cool mornings for school to open for the day. She misses the clicking sound her lock makes when she opens her locker.
Last Friday afternoon, my daughter and I went for a walk around Pleasantville after a day of work inside. Our ordinarily vibrant village, with its tightly constructed main street, bustling diner, crowded coffee shops, pizzerias and restaurants and its charming bookstore, looked nothing so much like an empty, dusty Texas town whose denizens have fled in the face of an oncoming tornado. I visualized tumbleweeds, and nothing else, rolling down the street.
I worry about my mom. She’s 90 years old and quarantined in an assisted living facility in Connecticut. None of the residents there can eat their meals in the common dining room. They must eat in their rooms alone. My mom is allowed to walk the hallways and visit other residents in their rooms, as long as they stay far apart. I guess they’ll end up shouting conversation at each other from way across the length of their apartments.
Since I’m a kindergarten teacher in the Bronx, I’m no longer in a classroom. Nobody is.
I spent last Friday on the phone, calling the parents of all my students, urging them to sign up for Google Classroom, which provides assignments to the children so they can learn while at home.
By Sunday, nine parents out of 25 had signed up. Two parents had no computers or e-mail addresses.
I’ll be working at home every day, to meet online with the school administration, talk with parents about what they’re doing to help their kids learn, monitoring student use of Google Classroom and reviewing the assignments the students complete.
My wife’s uncle, who lives in Quincy, Mass. by himself in a big, handsomely constructed home, is in his late seventies and has diabetes. His kidney function is way down from the diabetes. My wife and I are worried that he will not get the treatment he needs to recuperate. He would not be a top candidate to get a respirator, which are in such short supply.
My mother-in-law, a widow, is stuck in her home in New Jersey. All her clubs and meeting places are closed – bridge game, canasta, mah-jongg, senior center, the library. She’s cleaned everything in the house, done the laundry, washed all the dishes. She’s bored and lonely.
My wife is working from home too, of course. She’s tense.
I’m dealing with it differently. I watch CNN incessantly in the evening and read The New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as a half-dozen other news sites on the web.
I got really scared when I read about a 17-year-old South Korean boy who died from multiple organ failure. His body has been tested for the presence of the virus. Multiple test results showed he was negative, but one indicated he may have had the virus, according to the Korean Biomedical Review on Mar. 19.
This genetic monster, which exists only to make more copies of itself, is threatening everything we hold dear – our families, friends, work, way of life, our existence.
I’m scared, but I’m also angry. Last week, President Trump said he knew all along that the virus would cause a pandemic.
Based on what he said, my question to him is this: “If you knew all along that this would be a pandemic, why didn’t you do something about it? Why did you wait so long to act?”
Pleasantville resident Michael Gold has published op-ed articles in the New York Daily News and the Albany Times Union