March 21st COVID19 Journal

Today is Saturday, March 21st. I don’t know how regularly I’ll do this or even if I’ll continue at all after today, but I’ve been thinking of recording news, thoughts, and observations for a few days, and am finally making time to do it.

Portland’s first day of “Don’t call it shelter-in-place”

Oregon’s gov’na and Portland’s mayor asked people to stay home except for urgent and essential trips last night, but it was a confusing message.

I’m generally a fan of Gov Kate Grown, but from local reporting it seems many local leaders want to go further, but she’s trying to be moderate. I’d urge her to both go further and be more decisive. If it were me, I’d skip right ahead to full lockdown, the logical conclusion. The lesson of countries ahead of the US in dealing with their own outbreaks is very clear: Each day we wait for a lockdown is a day we’ll regret not having locked down. (Also: Gee whiz, am I ever glad I’m not in charge!)

Today’s been like every other day this week for the most part: We’re home. I’m spending too much time reading the news. It’s hard to resist; I’m fascinated. But it’s clear that I’ve been overdoing it.

I think I’m learning to do better on the mental health front, though! Doing something, anything to be helpful turns out to be the best thing I’ve done for my happiness all week. I’m surprised at how much of a weight I feel has been lifted.

Hey, it worked for Rapunzel

We were visited by my brother and sister in law Owen and Hana this morning. They stayed on the sidewalk and we talked to them through our 2nd story window (the main floor is a separate apartment).

This is a completely normal way to entertain guests.

So weird.

So great to see them though! As contrived as it feels, I still find socially-distanced-through-the-window, in-person visits are more sustaining than video chats.

Reddit is hip again

No disrespect to my primary sources of information (which have been Vox, NYT, and The Oregonian), but I’ve been wanting a greater diversity of sources, as well as also more technical information.

A professional medical researcher friend pointed me at r/Coronavirus as among the very best sources of news right now. Right away I saw what she meant: It is a rich font of information from a broad array of sources — and with surprisingly little BS!

That subreddit is also recommending r/COVID19 for scientifically-sourced information, strictly enforced. That in turn led me to LitCovid, a publicly searchable database of individual scientific papers on the novel coronavirus. It doesn’t get more direct than yet-to-be-peer-reviewed papers. (I think. If you know of a source that’s even closer to the frontlines, let me know!)

My asthma is probably not a major risk factor

I saw a rumor on social media that very few patients with severe symptoms had pre-existing asthma. I’ve been trying to determine whether this is correct.

Today I finally found some real information. There are only three papers appearing on a LitCovid search for “asthma”.

In summary, it is too early to say for certain, but asthma by itself does not appear to be a risk factor for severe infections. This is based on very limited early research, and nobody with credentials to make proper sense of this information has said anything definitive either way.

I am an untrained amateur making the best sense I can of scientific papers. Given the terrible, pneumonia-like end-phase of severe COVID19 infections, it’s prudent for me to continue taking isolation very seriously.

Still, this eases my mind a bit.


First, they ran out of peanut butter

We gathered emergency provisions a couple weeks ago, but had to restock our normal cupboards again on Thursday. This time we spent significantly more than normally, with the goal of not having to return to the grocery store for at least two weeks. (That’ll be hard, but we’ll try.)

On our second trip we bought a lot more peanut butter and bread, based on what we ran low on.

We also splurged on cheese, which we usually limit or avoid for health reasons. This decision was based on asking “what will bring us joy in this dark moment?” but I’m already regretting the choice. My stomach no-likey.

I would have gotten more soap and TP had they been available. On our next trip to Winco we’ll be there when the doors open at 7am so we have a shot — and hopefully don’t perish in the stampede.

We’re making full use of Imperfect Produce Foods for fresh delivery. You should consider other delivery options to minimize trips to the grocery store.