When last I sat down to write a new post on March 10th, I was wondering whether we should consider cancelling our planned trip to Boise to visit my brother and sister and their families with a side trip to California. At that time the coronavirus in China seemed to be stabilizing, but in Italy the numbers of confirmed cases were beginning to multiply expotentially. While isolated cases were starting to be reported around the United States, there was not a confirmed instance either in Maine or Idaho though there had already been at least one Covid-19 death reported in California. On that same day Donald Trump tried to assure the American public saying, “It will go away, just stay calm, it will go away”. As usual, I did not find comfort in the president’s words. So after some discussion with my husband, together we decided that it wasn’t worth the risk. Not so much that we might contract the disease, which was certainly possible flying to and through big city airports, but also that we might get stranded out west. We had more or less decided it was best to cancel the trip, though we expected to lose a fair amount of money because we had purchsed bargain fares for flights, rooms and rental cars. I let my brother and sister know we would try to visit after the crisis had passed.
The following morning, I got on my computer to begin the laborious task of cancelling plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars and even a kennel reservation for our Australian cattle dog. I started with the plane tickets since they were the most complicated. I had purchased a multi-city trip -Bangor to San Francisco, San Francisco to Boise, and Boise to Bangor. But since you can’t there from here direct we had connections in New York, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and New York on Delta Airlines. I had purchsed non-refundable tickets so I expected I would have to “bank” the miles and use them within a year in addition to paying any required change fees. I was plesantly surprised to learn that Delta was ahead of the curve on pandemic planning and refunded my credit card in full. I had four separate hotel reservations (all were special prepaid rates). Some were easily cancelled on-line while others required me to call the hotel directly. In the end, all credited me with a full refund. Hertz allowed me to cancel the two rentals (SFO and BOI) but were less conciliatory when it came to cancellation fees ($50/rental) because I had purchased the pre-paid bargain rate. The kennel just required a quick phone call and just like that our trip out west was done.
Hard to believe that it has been just two weeks since all this took place. Knowing what we know know I have absolutley no doubts that we made the right call. The day after we made the decision to cancel, the first Covid-19 case was identified in Maine. Between March 10-13th coronavirus manifestations had tripled. On March 11th announced that the entire University of Maine System would be transisitioning to on-line classes following Spring Break and that all students were required to vacate the dorms. Post season sports tournaments were cancelled and spring sports never had a chance to get started. We made the decision to self quarantine 10 days ago. We do get out of the house for daily walks or to take road trips for hike on little used remote trails. If we do come across others we keep at least 6 feet apart as recommended. Pretty much everything is closed except for those providing esential services like groceries, gas stations, and hospitals. In two weeks it has become a very differnent world.
How long these measures will have to remain in place is anyone’s guess. Donald Trump said just yesterday that he wants the country “back in business by Easter” which is just two and a half weeks away. Wishful thinking considering there are now over 60,000 confirmed case just in the US and we still don’t have the resourses to complete unlimited testing. In the meantime we will continue to follow the best practices outlined by the medical professionals -thorough hadwashing, avoid touching our faces, social distancing, and santizing surfaces. To deny science is to put yourself and others at risk. We will get through this, but it will require sacrifice on all our parts, concern for others, and a lot of patience.