Sunday, March 15, 2020

Life Lately: Definitely Not in Transit

For obvious reasons, I am no longer on my lengthy international business trip and will no longer be going to Paris. 

Last Thursday, while we were in Luxembourg, at around 4:00 A.M local time, President Trump announced the travel ban on foreign nationals coming to the US from the Schengen Area of the European Union. Members of our team were almost immediately woken up by concerned family members calling from the US. It quickly became clear that everything we were working on in Europe would need to be cancelled immediately and only rescheduled at some unknown future date, after things settled down. (At the time, I'm not sure it was clear to us that Americans were supposed to be exempt from this new travel ban. In any case, none of us had an appetite for waiting to test that.) We all booked new tickets home immediately. 

Coming home on Thursday evening felt a bit surreal. There weren't any changes to screening policies at customs and immigration in JFK. (I can personally verify that not everyone flying in from Europe was tested for COVID-19, contrary to the President's claims. But I don't think this comes as a surprise to anyone, given how few tests have been done in the US.) With the dramatically increased numbers of travelers rushing to get where they needed to go before the new ban was fully in place, getting back in through immigration did take significantly longer than usual. 

Once I got home, K and I thought it was best to stock up on some more food and other supplies that evening. We found extremely long lines at our nearest grocery store, amounting to what was ultimately a nearly two-hour wait to check out. The entire meat aisle was wiped out, and a lot of other product categories were also extremely depleted, though there was still a good selection of fish and produce. We're fully stocked up on food now, enough for at least two weeks, taking into account some of the supplies we already had at home before that trip to the grocery store. 

We also had a hard time finding paper towels and hand soap. (Hand sanitizer and Lysol or Clorox wipes have also been nowhere to be found for nearly a week now. Toilet paper is also nearly impossible to find in stores at the moment, but we had recently received our usual two-to-three month supply not long ago, so we're not hard up.) We were particularly desperate for hand soap: I had thought we were set because I had put in our routine order recently - two large refill bottles from - around March 9, but it's now backordered and won't be shipping in the foreseeable future. I went to five different drugstores looking for hand soap while K waited in line at the grocery store, and only saw a tiny bit left at one store, two 12-oz bottles that I bought.

Many law firms in NYC, and also my current workplace, have instituted work from home policies for now. I will be practicing social distancing and working exclusively from home for at least a week, and most likely longer, if it's allowed by my supervisors. (Our office's work from home policy will be reassessed week-to-week.) I don't plan to leave our apartment for anything nonessential. Among other things, I'll be staying out of our in-building gym. 

K and I have also decided it would be best to postpone our vacation indefinitely. Part of our travels would have involved visiting extended family members, some of whom are elderly. I would not have felt comfortable visiting them, having so recently traveled internationally for work in areas where there were COVID-19 cases, and while the extent of COVID-19 spread in NYC is also unclear. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear from anyone who might be reading! Please feel free to leave a comment or question.