Remembrances of Covid: January – February 2020
28th July, 2021
Now that Covid is largely “over”, I want to write a number of my experiences & observations down, so that my memory is not tainted by the spin of my community, media, or politicians–in other words, those with vested interests to spin the reality we lived through from early March 2020 through to early summer (May) 2021.
In retrospect, I wish I had jotted down these experiences in real time and could share a perfectly reliable and detailed account of every observation during my time living in the United States through Covid, but I will do my best in lieu of that data, to provide a detailed account of my experiences.
I think this will be a several post series, with the first several detailing in a temporal fashion my experiences with the occasional broad reflection penciled in, and the last one or two reflecting on the overall experience.
Again, my objective here is to share my sentiments during Covid, and accountsof experiences so that no one may take that away from me or my children through years of propaganda.
I began 2020 via an extended vacation through East Asia–2 weeks in Japan, 1 in Vietnam, and 1 in Taiwan, officially a province of China.
I recall my last week in Taiwan sitting at a bar talking to a bartender who was regaling me with relationships amongst Taiwanese and Chinese peoples (and corresponding politicians–there had just been an election). The newly elected President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-Wen positioned herself strongly in the camp of separatists, those who favor separating the island country from mainland China’s control.
The bartender was describing to me how younger Taiwanese people favored separatism, while older citizens, who still remembered when China and Taiwan were completely cutoff from one another, and whose siblings live in China favored the status quo.
I should note that Chinese New Year occurred during my time in Taiwan, and much of the country was shut down and its citizens in mainland China for familial celebrations.
While sitting here, I noticed a few stories on the television (which was apparently in English) detailing a strange virus in Wuhan, China. I did not think much of it. The flu always starts in China (that’s how we get our flu vaccines in the first place) but besides being late for that (January/February) I assumed this was a slow news day from an organization trying to increase viewership.
A couple of days later (near my time to depart) the news about the virus in Wuhan had become superfluous and it was clear that it was international news, not a local story. My mom and others asked about me, and while largely unconcerned about the virus, I feared my flights back home being delayed or canceled.
My flights did not, however, get canceled or delayed. Despite hearing stories of passengers being waylaid due to high temperatures and temperature checks out on the West Coast/ in San Francisco’s airport, I did not receive any questionnaire about traveling or temperature check prior to deplaning.
Back in the United States
I returned to work immediately upon returning from my travels, I believe I landed back in the U.S.A. on January 29th, and returned on February 3th. Chatter amongst the populace at this point was largely “did you hear about this virus?”.
Concern was pretty minimal except from the most conservative of folks. The concerns were (as far as I remember) not divided along political lines–when I say conservative, I mean the type of people that would never go bungee jumping for fear of their safety.
When people would ask me about how my trip was, they would ask if I heard about the virus over there, not if I caught it.
No one was wearing masks at this point in the pandemic, nor, to my knowledge had the population been directed to do so.
Coming up in the next segment…
Furor over the virus was growing the past month. The university and other more liberal (or government funded) facilities began shutting down in early March.
Trump was talking about the virus spreading from China and I believe he closed off travel from there. China closed off Wuhan and did not allow commerce or travel to or from the region. By mid-March I think most international flights had been canceled.