Monday, July 20, 2020

Social Distancing Life Lately: 19 Weeks

Another old photograph from December, when I visited the Vessel in Hudson Yards.

As it turns out, the reopening of my office was not as mandatory for attorneys as I initially expected, so K and I are now officially in our 19th week of fairly strict social distancing. We continue to stay in our apartment building, except for an essential grocery or pharmacy trip approximately once every three to four weeks. 

For now, I'll appear at the office only if I have tasks that need to be done in-person. Given everything that's going on - federal courts are mostly not reopen for in-person proceedings and, for obvious reasons, clients are disinclined to have in-person meetings - I probably won't need to go to the office much anytime soon.

By now, many biglaw offices in NYC have indicated that they don't expect to require most employees to return through the end of the calendar year. My very small workplace - we have slightly fewer than 20 employees total - may try to bring us back in sooner, but whether that's possible depends on how quickly the government will allow NYC to continue its reopening. Apparently, state law currently requires that employers allow discretion to work from home to categories of employees that can perform most of their duties remotely, a group that includes attorneys. I'm not sure how likely it is that the government will revoke this policy in the near term. 

NYC is officially in Phase 4 of its repoening, but with all significant new indoor activities taken off the list of what's permitted. Originally, indoor dining, malls, gyms, and museums were supposed to be allowed to reopen in Phase 4, but the government reversed course on all those things in recent weeks. That's probably the correct decision, as I think any of those new indoor activities would carry some risk of increasing the number of COVID-19 cases here, given our population density and the possibility of visitors coming in from out of state. 

I'm still putting off that haircut and routine doctor's appointment. Although I expect both excursions to be quite safe - given all the new government-mandated precautions, either appointment would likely be significantly lower-risk than any of our grocery shopping outings - I also don't feel a particular need to hurry and get either errand done. 

K and I continue to be incredibly fortunate, with no significant new disruptions as of yet to our ability to work from home or to our household income. I suppose we've never particularly enjoyed outdoor activities, nor did we particularly like being out and about in the city during the summer - too hot and humid for my tastes - so we're quite comfortable and happy staying indoors right now, even if it's been over four months of this.  

I've been feeling increasingly distressed and angry about how poorly the US national response to COVID-19 is going. I imagine that everyone reading here agrees with me about this, regardless of what country you live in. While New York and a few other states are doing alright, things seem to be very not good in most parts of the country, with no real end in sight. My relatives abroad in Taiwan are certainly shocked and appalled. 

How are you and your friends and family doing? 

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