homeaboutarchives + tagsnewslettermembership!
aboutarchivesnewslettermembership!
aboutarchivesmembers!

Pandemic Stories from Around the World

In the April 5, 2020 issue of the kottke.org newsletter, I asked readers if they would share what they've been up to during the pandemic and how their families and communities are coping. I received a bunch of responses and beginning today, I'm going to publish some of their experiences here. Thanks to everyone who wrote in. The hope is that sharing these experiences will make us all feel a little more connected and a little less alone.

Notes to the reader: These responses were sent in from April 5 to April 10. Submissions have been edited for length, clarity, and anonymity.

Patricia L. from Cape Town, South Africa:

I'm an emergency medicine doctor working in the public sector in Cape Town, South Africa. I work at a small district hospital with about 160 beds. In our emergency centre, we have 14 full time doctors and 3 intern doctors on rotation. Our hospital serves a large underprivileged population with a quadruple burden of disease at the best of times:

- HIV & TB and complications thereof
- Hypertension, diabetes and diseases of lifestyle
- Maternal, newborn and child illnesses
- Interpersonal violence and trauma

Our referral centre is Groote Schuur Hospital, home of the first heart transplant, and we refer patients for specialist care and imaging if needed (eg MRI's & CT scans, cardiology, neurosurgery etc). We have a 2-bed resuscitation unit in our emergency centre, and a 3-bed high care unit. The hospital has a total of 9 ventilators. I'm trying to find recent stats on the size of the population that we serve but I estimate it is about 4-500 000 people.

We are well accustomed to working in a resource-scarce setting, and improvisation and decisions about which patients qualify for resuscitation, ventilation and ICU care are the order of the day for us generally. I have been very interested to read media reports about the moral dilemmas facing doctors; first in Italy and now in other parts of the first world where these types of ethical decisions are less commonplace.

Our president, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced a country-wide lockdown on the 23rd of March when we had a total of about 400 confirmed cases. We have one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, with a ban on the sale of cigarettes, alcohol, non-essential items (you can't buy a kettle at a supermarket, for example). We aren't allowed outside our properties except to buy food and access emergency health care. Dog walking and jogging, cycling etc is forbidden. Essential workers have to have permits to travel. There are no fast food outlets open even for deliveries, and UberEats and other similar services are not operating currently. Here's a recent BBC article about it.

Our usually inefficient & corrupt government seems to be handling this with frankly surprising aplomb and urgency, for which I am very grateful. We have a huge underprivileged population who live in overcrowded townships with little education, poor hygiene, poor access to health care and a high rate of co-infection with HIV and TB. The consequences of a situation like Italy occurring in South Africa will result in unfathomable devastation, and although we may still reach that point we have some time to prepare to mitigate what we can during these early days.

Having said that, our economy is in tatters. We have been downgraded to "junk status" by all (I think) major ratings agencies (Moody's, Fitch etc) -- the outlook has been poor for the last few years following "state capture" under president Zuma's government. State Owned Enterprises have been run to the ground with corrupt management, and this feels like the final nail in the coffin. We have high unemployment, and a huge informal labour force which has been affected by the lockdown.

We have adequate PPE (for now): N95 & surgical masks, visors / goggles, plastic aprons, gloves and re-usable fabric theatre gowns which will be washed daily. We have limited stock of disposable waterproof gowns for intubation and high risk procedures. We don't have access to the hazmat suits seen in China and elsewhere in the first world, arguably not sure if they are necessary. One of our doctors has sourced bulk plastic shower caps as hair protection. I have deeply conflicting feelings of guilt about the amount of plastic I am going through per shift!

It feels like we are simultaneously over and under-reacting. I am strangely excited in amongst all the apprehension and anticipation -- this is what I've trained for, I am part of an excellent hospital team, and we are ready to rise to the challenge despite all the fear and uncertainty.

Anne B. from central France:

I'm a high school teacher. Been on lock down for three weeks now, teaching from home. My students who have always been nice are going through a unique experience which compels them to be very autonomous and mature. As a teacher, I've always been close to my students but this thing has brought on a whole new level! I have to admit I enjoy talking to them as if I were the manager of their department, for real. I also make the most of the extra time to give personalized and customized advice to each of them when they send work.

I am glad I live in France and I know that no matter your social background and bank account status, if you get sick, you get treated the same way and for free.

I live in an a small town, and although I am interested in my surroundings, this lock down with limited freedom outside has compelled me to pay even closer attention to my neighborhood and getting to know the community I live in, people-wise (staying a few yards away though). We feel comfort, gathering outside our homes at 8 pm every single evening to clap and cheer for all the people still working in grocery shops, transports, doctors, nurses etc. Tonight we even shared a glass of wine in the middle of our street, still a few yards away from each other, this distancing is more physical than social... I've been feeling closer to my friends, family and colleagues and for the first time ever, hallelujah to WhatsApp!

Hugh H. reports from Jackson, Mississippi:

I live in Jackson, MS, which is somewhere between Yonkers and Syracuse in size -- something like 170,000 people, and the largest city in Mississippi. Some things about Jackson that make this particularly difficult is that Jackson was already desperately poor before all this went down -- 25% of the city has a household income of less than $15,000 a year, and 75% of the the city was a USDA food desert when everything is "normal".

As a result, most of Jackson has to travel significant distances to go to the grocery store, and there aren't huge amounts of money floating around to buy up supplies, anyway. So a big part of my work, as the pastor of a small church down here has been helping people get access to food and supplies.

The Governor enacted a stay-at-home order last week, and most of Jackson is a ghost town. The parking lots of the big box stores (Target, Walmart, Kroger, etc.) are relatively full, but you don't see cars elsewhere. In the stores, perhaps 1 in 4 folks are wearing masks, but that really just started this weekend. All restaurants in Jackson are now, if they stayed open, take out only. Liquor stores are deemed an essential business.

Jackson is a pessimistic place. Life here makes you hard, and hope often seems far away -- and that is when everything is "normal". So, things are bleak, but I think they will get worse because I think we are in this for months, not weeks, and I don't think that idea has hit a lot of folks here yet.

Alana C. wrote in from southeastern Kansas (with a "P.S." that her sourdough starter is on day 4):

Our county of 13,000 has not yet had a confirmed case, but there's at least 1 in all the surrounding counties. We are fortunate to still have 2 hospitals in the area, my town is in between them, about 9 miles either direction. 5 hospitals have closed in SE Kansas in the last 3 years, and we are still without Medicaid expansion so we are very, very lucky to still have options. Like with all rural hospitals, they usually airlift or drive the worst cases to Lawrence, KC, or Wichita, which of course isn't an option right now. If we keep up the social distancing the way we've been, which there's for sure a lot of grumbling about, I think they'll be OK. I know there are a lot of Fox News Boomers in the area, and even more comorbidities, but a few pillars of the community took this seriously early, which I know made a big difference. The main job path here if you're a woman who isn't planning on leaving and never coming back, is to become a nurse, so maybe that has also helped to get people to take it seriously. Compared to the rural South, we're doing pretty good.

I keep thinking about the parade we had for the Chiefs in Kansas City on February 5th, and am so thankful that the weather was awful that day so the turnout wasn't massive, but mostly that it wasn't a couple weeks later. It would have been our Mardi Gras. I have so many friends who went, and the thought of what could have been is horrifying.

Louise H. is on a boat in the Bahamas:

We are US citizens, and live full time on our boat. We (me, my husband, and our 19 year old cat) are currently cruising in the Bahamas. We had planned to be here for March, April and May, and had purchased 3 months of basic provisions before leaving at the end of February. (Yes, I might have accidentally started the toilet paper hoarding.) Food is VERY expensive here, so we try to only buy fresh fruits and veggies to supplement our packed cabinets and freezer.

We arrived in country just as the virus was starting to be news in the US, so we avoided large crowds, then small crowds, then everyone. We are anchored near a small island, Staniel Cay, with about 50 other boats. The island itself has a population of only around 150, so we feel very isolated and safe from the virus here. However, in the last week, the number of cases in the Bahamas have been growing, and the first death was on another small island. With only 70 ventilators in the entire country, and those 70 are only on two (out of hundreds) islands, the Bahamians are getting understandably very nervous and have instituted curfews. This weekend was a complete lockdown, with even grocery stores closed until Monday.

We feel extremely lucky to be here in this beautiful place, able to avoid most people, and be completely self-sufficient. We would have stayed until the start of hurricane season, but Saturday evening (April 4) the US Embassy advised all Americans to return to the US, whether we are tourists who arrived by commercial flight or in private boats. The risk now is too great that the Bahamian government, in order to stop the viral spread between islands, will stop all boat traffic indefinitely, trapping us here, unable to access medical care or escape hurricanes. So tomorrow morning we will set sail back to Florida, a trip which will take us about 4 days. Many other American and Canadian boaters are doing the same. It's a nice community; we keep in contact over the radio, offering advice on engine repair. Several families with young kids on board organized a trivia night over the radio, and we even heard some makeshift karaoke floating across the water. Perhaps we'll be able to actually meet them face to face on another trip, or in another place.

Rick M. from Tokyo, Japan sent a post he wrote about how he's approaching his kids' learning:

After a few weeks into this stay-at-home situation, it became very apparent that neither myself nor my kid were especially interested in assuming a teacher-student relationship. But what came as a big surprise was that the kid was open to flipping those roles, i.e. she was really eager to teach me something. So she has been teaching me some basic ballet (which she's studied for a couple of years) for about 20 minutes a day. I won't go into details here about how I'm doing (no one needs that mental picture) but my échappé-to-arabesque is pretty dope.

It turns out that her love of dance is keeping keeping her quite active even while she's been house-bound. I always thought that ballet was kind of stupid and elitist, but it's certainly coming in handy now. Rearranging the furniture to be less centered on the TV and more in favor of open space dancing was a bad idea my wife had months back, but in these past few weeks it has become less bad.

Scott G. in a central Ohio suburb:

Here in our small tree-lined suburb in central Ohio, we have been carefully observing the social distancing and stay home instructions for nearly four weeks now. As native southerners, we count ourselves lucky to live in Ohio where our (Republican, wow!) governor acted early and rapidly to take measures to flatten the curve of Covid-19. In his first address on the subject he proclaimed that he would be "guided by science" in passing guidelines to protect us, and we look at other less-proactive states and worry about our families there.

Life at home for our family of three has revolved around working, cooking (which we didn't do much of before) and when we do venture out for take-out we try to support our favorite local restaurants that are struggling with less than 30% of their normal business. I'm a huge fan of our many local coffee shops, and after trying to stay open for carry-out they have all now closed, some maybe forever.

We count ourselves fortunate to be here together and make the best of staying in and taking care of each other. I know we'll never take for granted coffee or lunch with a friend, eating in our local restaurants and the value of our personal relationships.

M. writes from Brazil:

We are experiencing here what I would call the paradox of the cordial man. Cordial man is a concept by anthropologist Sergio Buarque de Holanda who suggests that Brazilians do not distinguish between public and private, that everything can be interpreted from the perspective of cordis, from the heart. His concept goes deeper to explain the relations of colonial Brazil and our greater family structure.

Anyway, what we have in the last few days are people who disobey the recommendations to stay at home, either because they are followers of the president, or because they are uninformed or because they either need to go or return to their jobs. On the other hand, people who think it is absurd for a group to still be on the streets, even if only for a few moments, or keep the distance suggested, because it is fatally endangering the lives of other people. That is, is this not the paradox of the cordial man? Whoever is still on the streets only sees the prism from its individual perspective. But those who are at home complaining about who is on the street are concerned that the first one will steal their hospital bed or endanger the life of a loved one. At no time there is a collective understanding, but always from cordial perspectives, from cordis.

I was unable to find a good English summary/discussion of Buarque de Holanda's cordial man theory, but this comes close.

Nicki C. from Wellington, New Zealand:

We've just finished our second weekend of a 4-week nation-wide lockdown. This currently lasts until 23rd of April, and release of the lockdown will depend on how well we all go at preventing the spread of the virus. We locked down pretty early (when we had 283 cases in total) and have gone hard. EVERYTHING is closed except for supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies and doctors offices. People are allowed out of their homes to go to an essential service (like to get groceries) and do exercise locally, such as walking or running. Swimming and surfing (lots of people live close to beaches), mountain biking, hiking and tramping are not allowed. That's really hard for such an outdoors-based country like ours. It has been challenging for the government to determine what's considered an essential service. Obviously businesses don't want to close down completely because of the massive economic impact, so there's a lot of lobbying to relax the restrictions. It's slowly happening in some areas -- for example, online delivery of alcohol is now allowed -- but not in others, no magazines or non-daily newspapers are allowed to publish.

The fallout from our lockdown is going to be massive. No one is really confident at what it will look like, but numbers being thrown around are 30% of small to medium businesses (the category which most of our businesses fall into) will not be able to reopen when the lockdown is lifted. Thousands of people are being made redundant. It's like nothing most of us have seen in our lifetimes here. Even the GFC didn't have this bad an impact on our economy. Our parliament (the house of government) is closed, with most of our Members of Parliament locked down at home like the rest of us. What we have in place of the normal sitting of both government and the opposition parties, is a committee made up of representatives of all parties who scrutinise how the government is responding to the virus. The daily sittings of this committee are broadcast online so anyone can see what's being asked and answered. This seems to be working well and at least safeguards some of our democracy in a time when we're effectively on a war-footing.

In my suburb, the community spirit is amazing. There are a lot of kids who live around here and their parents take them out for walks most days to go on a bear hunt -- most of the houses have teddy bears and soft toys in their windows and the kids get to hunt them out. It's lovely hearing their excited voices when a new teddy is in the window. Lots of streets, ours included, have started Facebook groups to keep in touch and use for localised help and support. People have been findings all kinds of creative ways to keep themselves occupied. This is one of my favourites. There are so many more good stories than bad ones -- but I have definitely seen social media's bias towards complaints and horror stories come out. I've had to stop reading Facebook comments because it's just too aggravating and depressing.

I'm working from home, but a lot quieter than is normal for this time of the year. My business works a lot with government departments and they are understandably refocused on virus response activities. This means projects we were working on are deferred or on hold for now. No one really knows when it will get back to 'normal' -- I suspect that normal when this is over won't look like normal did before it started. One really good thing to come from this is the rapid proving of the whole remote working thing. I see my team more often now than I did when we all worked in the same office! I hope that continues post-lockdown.

My overarching observation of this whole horrible situation is that it makes the world feel so much smaller and more human than I have ever felt it to be. Even with the dickheads and idiots (some of whom are in positions of power), I can feel the essential humanity of all of us fighting together to beat this thing. That gives me such hope for the future.

Jason K. writes in from central Vermont (Hi, this is me...you can find the rest of my story in the newsletter):

Some people here are really not happy about out-of-state visitors and those with second homes (from NYC, Boston, etc.) coming up to Vermont to ride out the pandemic. There's a 14-day quarantine mandated for out-of-state or returning residents, but that's largely unenforceable -- we can only hope people comply with it. There were folks on a local mailing list calling for the governor to close the state borders, but most are supportive of out-of-staters with VT ties being here (as long as they are being responsible). Vermont is a small state with limited medical capability, but in normal times VT also relies heavily on tourism and out-of-state visitors & second home owners who spend heavily here and provide tax income to the state and local communities. So it's an interesting dynamic/dilemma.

Sujay A. writes from Bengaluru, India:

The whole of India has been under a 21-day lockdown (started on 25th of March). Once the current lockdown ends, they might relax the lockdown in unaffected regions, and continue it in affected regions. We are not supposed to step out of our houses unless there is a strong reason to do so. Some of the strong reasons for most people include buying essentials, attending to family emergency, banking (reduced hours), etc. All factories and offices have either been shut down, or the employees have been asked to work from home. I get to work from home, and I recognise how privileged my position is.

The essentials such as fruits, vegetables, groceries, medicine, etc. are mostly available in grocery stores (kiranas), supermarkets, and push carts (most people buy their vegetables from them since it is most convenient, you just buy outside your door on the street). The government assures us that there is enough for everyone, and that we should not panic.

The restaurants are all closed for dining, only online deliveries and takeouts are available. Online stores such as Amazon, Flipkart, and Big Basket are only taking orders for essentials. Cab services such as Uber and Ola are shut down. The auto rickshaws, metro, and local buses are off service. All the parks, markets, lakes, malls, and cinemas are closed. We are expected to do any exercise indoors. It's quite eery to see the streets being empty in Bangalore.

I live in an apartment complex, which is lucky for me since we have good landscaping and I can take walks. Kids within our apartment complex have a lot of area to play and enjoy a bit.

The vast majority of people in India live as a "joint family" (myself included). This basically means that the three generations live in the same house. This makes it all the more important for everyone to stay safe since you can get the elderly infected quite easily.

So far India has done a commendable job with restricting the infections. India started screening international passengers from affected countries starting in January as soon as the news from Wuhan broke. We are not doing as many tests as we would like. The biggest fear for India is if the disease spreads among the "community". With India's population and density, it's going to be impossible to bring things to control. We are all hoping for the best, and the authorities seem to be doing the best they can. Hopefully it'll be enough.

Steve J. writes in from Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada.

School is suspended indefinitely and everyone is home. I'm fortunate to have a family who gets along well and children (10 and 12) who I don't have to worry about if they miss school for an extended run. I've tried to focus on how lucky we are as a family to be able to be together and sustain ourselves. One of the things I heard on the radio early in this period was a discussion on CBC Radio's As It Happens (one of the nation's greatest radio programmes, and a great source of information at a time like this) with authors Margaret Atwood, Waubgeshig Rice and Daniel Kalla. Something Rice, an Indigenous author, said, really stuck with me: "I think we're all scared in some ways. But I think if your first response is fear, it's important to acknowledge your privilege in that you maybe haven't been to the brink before. Whereas a lot of marginalized communities have experienced that and continue to experience that. And there's a long list of examples in Canada of world ending for different communities. You know, you can look at the destruction of Africville in Nova Scotia or the internment of Japanese Canadians. You know, it's important to take a look at what your personal perspective is and your place in society and just, you know, acknowledge that privilege of being part of the dominant culture and things being generally good in Canada in the last 150 years or so." I try to remember this as I think about my own fears and my own family's situation.

I run a biomedical teaching lab for youth at a research building at one of the major hospitals in the city. My building and operation is shut down and we're now trying to figure out how to carry on some sort of experiential learning for the teachers and students that we would regularly work with. Although I don't have to go in, I just started volunteering to do staff screening at the main entrance to the hospital for 2.5h early every morning so they don't have to pull nurses off of wards to screen employees and so maybe I can feel like I'm doing something to help. This entails me and others running through the list of symptoms and possible contacts with every employee as they show up for the morning shift, so every morning I get to interact with surgeons, managers, housekeepers, technicians, food service staff, maintenance, nurses and everyone else who is part of making the operation hold together. It's hard to read how everyone is feeling, there's certainly anxiety and stress, but there's also resolve, dedication and still many smiles on faces that let me know we'll pull through this in some way.

An anonymous reader from southwest Wyoming:

It's strange to think about having to shelter in place when we have so much empty space that we can occupy our time with outside, so people are still out and about around our town. And I am completely in favor of shelter in place policies in major metro areas, but somehow it just doesn't seem like it would work here given the political and personal leanings of the people of Wyoming. I am new to Wyoming (have lived here 2.5 years), but there is a certain way people seem to think this is still the old west and, for better or worse, they tend to have that independent spirit. The virus has just recently arrived in our county, but to be honest the scariest thing for me is the fact that this is Trump country and that people believe him. I'm more scared of jackasses flaunting this as a hoax and not taking the proper precautions when they are at the grocery store with me or my family.

Larry B. writes in from Brooklyn, NY:

My brother's father-in-law is an Argentine who lives in Warsaw, Indiana. He's gotten some time off during the pandemic and does a live-stream piano concert each night (7 pm Eastern) from his living room piano in Warsaw, in English and in Spanish. My whole family tunes in and, for a brief hour, it feels like we're all together, scream singing an off-key "Hey Jude" in our respective living rooms.

Guy K. is in Melbourne, Australia:

I'm isolating and I think our family unit is quietly enjoying the return to simplicity, despite what I call "the low ceiling of existential dread".

I'm pleased to report our government+community has taken the threat seriously and the growth rate has been very much dampened here for now. Tbh we look at the path chosen by the US with a fair amount of concern and alarm.

An anonymous reader from Washington DC:

I am lucky to have my job, as is my spouse. We are new parents, so we are dealing with managing work from home and full time childcare of an infant. I imagine single parents and many others with less privilege have it worse but this has been a great test for us.

My spouse works on advocating for better government policy concerned with a vulnerable population that happens to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic. I work for a 24hr crisis hotline supporting a constituency that isn't directly related but for whom resources are being affected by the pandemic. Our jobs are degrees removed from the people we help others serve, but we are both seeing and hearing of what a decimated safety net can't do -- as we always feared -- as we do our bit parts in the relentless tides of adaptation now demanded by our jobs.

It is exhausting, there are few real boundaries on the day, despite the schedule we try to impose on our turns at childcare and work. At the end of the day we are truly beat. We argue about whether iterative change or structural change or both are needed, what we risk losing if we do it wrong, about the climate crisis, about what else we should be doing, and other things (everything seems existential sometimes). Then we get angry at each other for arguing in front of our child. We get stressed about our small fixer-upper house that is now most of our world. We also find joy in starting the day with our child and start over, again.

We are grateful, exhausted, afraid, wanting to hope for a better world in time, doing OK but not always doing so OK.

Katrin L. from Dresden, Germany:

Schools have been closed since the middle of March. A kind of emergency childcare in primary schools is offered for the kids of people who work in jobs that are deemed essential. My husband is a psychotherapist (which is deemed essential here), so we have been able to send two of our kids there. Of the 300+ kids in the school, only 7-10 come in each day to be tutored. This emergency childcare is offered between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m . Our two sons have been happy to go since it's an opportunity to see other children. I have been happy for them to go since it gives me a bit more time to work.

My husband and I split up in February after 16 years together. It was -- and is -- devastating. I haven't been sleeping or eating much. The pandemic has put my personal pain into perspective. I feel for the people who lost so much more than their spouse. As for me, I think that if I can hug my friends again, eat at a restaurant and go back to my gym, I just might be able to survive the end of my marriage.

Everybody here follows social distancing rules very well. On some days it makes me well up just to see people alone, avoiding each other. It echoes my own feelings of loneliness.

Phil W. from Stockholm, Sweden:

I've lived in Sweden for the past 9 years and the Swedes have always been good at social distancing. They elevated keeping yourself to yourself (Jag vill inte störa dig - I don't want to disturb you) to an art form long before the rest of the world was forced to play catch up. They also generally live alone so there's not a lot of inter-generational mixing going on anyway. So things are open but quiet. Kids are at school, my wife works at a pre-school and she's still working, people are in the parks but keeping a bit of distance- it all has the feel of an early morning Saturday, except with a few people here and there wearing facemasks. Everything is open but not many people are up yet. Although it's the poorer who are struggling as usual. The immigrant areas (including where I live) have been hit hard and the answers as to why are troubling in all sorts of ways.

Right now, Sweden is not suffering any worse than nations which have locked down and so people are nervous, anxious because almost everywhere else is doing it differently. It's an odd mix of trust in the health authorities (they're calling the shots, not the government) and sort of holding your breath. Hoping, trusting, praying that they called it right.

Mary D. writes from the central coast of California:

I think the governor moved pretty swiftly to shut everything down but people, especially those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder, are suffering. All but essential services have been shut down (and as a newspaper journalist, I'm considered an essential service, although I feel pretty useless right now) and people are worried about paying rent, paying for food and medicine, etc.

Acts of kindness: There's a lot of them. Offering to share food or venmo-ing people who need a few dollars to get by. Sharing hand sanitizer. One woman I know started a fund to provide hotel rooms for a few nights to the homeless. I helped a friend with some groceries.

My favorite time of the day right now is the ten minutes in the morning that I walk to the coffeehouse, get a cup of coffee (one of my housemates/tenants is a co-owner of the place) and then I walk a few blocks and sit in the sun, listening to the sound of nothing. After that, it's all one long slog.

Bonnie A. reports from London:

After a confused and contradictory start, the government now has a solid party line: stay inside except for food shopping and one hour of outdoor exercise. People over 70 and/or with health problems should not go out at all. Parks on a beautiful day are a big problem with people treating it like a national holiday. Younger people do not seem to be sticking to the social distancing rules and of course everyone knows that the joggers are the worst. Most people, except for essential workers, are working from home. So far people are sticking to the rules, generally.

Steven C. from Raleigh, North Carolina:

We are fine. We had a horrible head cold that we caught in SF while we were out there in mid-February before the whole world sent nuts, and it's also pollen apocalypse time here in NC, so it's been difficult to self-diagnose whether we're sick or not because Claritin stopped working for me last year and nothing else seems to, either, so I'm always a bit sniffly, achy and running a slight fever. But no cough, and the fever is around 99 so probably not COVID. We are oddly unchanged, we already worked from home and have for years so the only real big change is that we haven't been to a restaurant since March 12th, which is odd for us as we live downtown and used to walk everywhere (though that's typically curtailed during high pollen days). We are mostly hoping that our parents are safe and that it will rain and knock the pollen out of the air.

Things I've noticed while out and about (groceries, liquor):

- there are SO MANY PEOPLE JOGGING
- people walking dogs
- people pushing baby strollers
- teenagers don't seem to get it, I've seen many groups of kids just wandering around like always
- I went to Grand Asia Market and EVERYONE except the white people were wearing masks
- measures vary wildly at different grocery stores as to how sanitized everything is. Wegman's? Bleach on the conveyor at checkout. Fresh Market? Not much. Harris Teeter? Hand sanitizer at checkout. ABC stores now have sneeze guards in front of their checkouts.

Matt B. from Texas:

We are lucky here that the schools have adopted an asynchronous learning style, handed out Chromebooks and hotspots to anyone who needs them, and moved all grades to pass/fail for the rest of the year. BUT, I feel like in some ways I have embodied this pandemic -- first I got sick for about 2 weeks (could not get tested, though), then I had to cancel a conference, and then last week I had to help my wife file for unemployment while she is on furlough. The one part that I hope I don't embody is knowing someone who dies. But my aunt is an ICU nurse, my mom works at a hospital, and a friend of mine's stepfather is on a ventilator. Who knows.

Kevin R. from near Tokyo:

I work in Tokyo and live just outside, in a very large city. People here are pretty much ignoring the warnings from the health administrators, and the government waffling makes Trump look good. My wife stopped going to the health club even though they opened up again last week. The church across the street had a service yesterday. You can see kids in the park and more people than ever in the residential areas. We had a run on TP early on, then on groceries when the Tokyo mayor told everyone to stay home...for the weekend.

My mother-in-law is 91 and resides in a retirement home about 50 meters from ours. They are taking it seriously. No visitors. She can come out and take a walk with us if we keep it down to 30 minutes or less.

Most people are feeling the pinch, but since we have single-payer health care and many with solid contracts (and who are likely still working), the tough times are falling on part-timers and the poor. Not so many layoffs. Yet.

Stephen C. writes from New Jersey:

I have a family of four -- two kids, a daughter who had her Freshman year in college ripped away from her and a son who is a Junior in high school. At this point, I am happy to report that all of us are completely healthy and have not had any signs of the virus. Probably the hardest part of this whole experience has been to watch the way it has impacted my kids academic and social lives during what are some of the most important and impactful years of their lives. Nothing crushed me more than having to drive to my daughter's college to clear out her dorm room during the first week of March because of the virus. Even though her school's administration had not made any decisions on the remainder of the school year, my wife and I made the "executive decision" to take everything home because we had a feeling she was not going back there any time before September (and who knows if that will happen!). She had developed a wonderful group of friends at her school, she was crushing it academically (Dean's List first semester!) and she was absolutely thriving in her new college environment, and now she is stuck taking virtual classes and having video chats with her friends near and far. She has been handling it exceptionally well; however, as her Dad, it crushes me.

As for my son, the hardest part is to see how this has impacted his critical Junior year in high school. He has a great group of friends, and he is/was very active in many clubs and activities at the school and all of that just vaporized. He was involved in the production of the high school play that was slated for March 15, and all that work was for nothing as the performance was cancelled. We were also knee deep in the middle of touring and evaluating colleges for him, and all of a sudden that has come to a screeching halt. And I, along with thousands of other families in similar situations, have to ask how colleges and universities will be factoring this experience into the way they evaluate the high school class of 2021? The social, and emotional toll -- either overtly or silently -- that this will have on these kids is something that I am very interested in understanding.

In my area of NJ, people seem to be taking the situation seriously and adhering to the direction of the State and Town governments to stay inside. We have essentially been at home since March 9th. We go out only when we need to go to the supermarket and to get other essentials. We have been taking advantage of delivery and 'curb site pick up' at stores around the area. We have been trying to support our local restaurants by ordering 1 to 2 meals from our favorite local pizza/Italian and Chinese restaurants. We have also been 'coordinating' with our friends when they, or we, go out to the store. If our friends are going to the store, they will call to see if we need anything and we do the same with them. Then, they (or we) just drop off the food/'delivery' on our respective porches. We all make sure we wipe everything down just out of precaution and so far, that system has worked in that it collectively reduces the amount of times that we all have to go out to get things.

Tim B. reported in from southern California:

Although California is considered a "blue" state, much of California is a "red" state. Outside of Los Angeles and the Bay Area of San Francisco, people tend to be conservative. In Temecula especially, there are Trump supporters on various corners on main streets holding signs for Trump.

Schools are closed and will not open this semester. I have two children (a 17 yr old and a 16 yr) and both are participating in "distance learning". My oldest is taking it in stride (he is a senior) and is doing well. He works at a fast food restaurant and works 3 to 4 days a week. He plays video games with his friends and is able to keep in touch with his friends thru social media and gameplay. My 16 yr old is a homebody and also keeps in touch thru social media with friends. The 17 yr old has not truly done any schoolwork, but the school district has intimated that starting 4/13/20 there will be classwork due in order to fulfill their obligations as educators. My 16 yr has been receiving assignments from two teachers and has been diligently completing tasks (more out of boredom than anything else.)

Yesterday Riverside County passed an ordinance that requires everyone outside of their homes need to wear some kind of mask (bandana, medical mask, something). I had to go out and get some groceries and 40% of the people wore some kind of mask. The other 60% either did not know about the ordinance or refused to wear a face covering on principle.

I am working at home. My company is a software company that creates software for agencies that provide subsidized child care. I am lucky that my job can be performed at home and my company is in a good position to continue to employ everyone.

Vitor D. from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:

Even though my city and my state are taking the appropriate measures, like closing stores, schools and asking for people to stay home, some fellows still don't understand what the problem is. Some think that, since the death rates are low, there is no problem at all. They don't seem to understand that what is at stake is the collapse of the health system. This is a little infuriating, since we've been talking non stop about this for almost a month. At least my neighbors are as worried as me and my family. I live in an apartments building with many children (I have an 8 year old daughter myself) and we managed to organize a schedule so only one child (or more if they're from the same family) at a time time can use the playground. Speaking of my daughter, she's been handling the situation very well. As an extrovert, she misses her friends a lot, but manages to assuage her longings by talking to them by video calls. She's also having online classes, which are working pretty well.

Forest B. reports from Ohio:

It has been a super strange and busy time in our little home. My son constantly wants to play with me. He is in a game building mood, where he creates these elaborate rules that seem to shift towards his own advantage in an instant. The current game is kind of like soccer except our opponents are giant spiders. We have a big backyard, and spend sometime everyday out there. We also go for bike rides and walks, but most of the trails around here have closed.

Shawn F. from central Vermont:

Our girls have homeschooled for their entire lives, my wife teaches piano out of the house when she's not leading the schooling, and I work from home for a large old tech company. We're in the privileged-but-nervous class. No rent to worry about, high-paying remote job, back yard to run around, full size freezer in the garage, years of sourdough experience. We're also comfortable being around each other for long periods of time, but even so we've had to scale back our expectations -- we just can't get as much done as before. This is definitely an anxiety booster for the adults, and it seems clear the girls are following our example in learning how to worry and overthink things.

David S. from Sydney, Australia:

All of our states are under lockdown now, with varying levels of severity (e.g. the Northern Territory are making all out-of-state arrivals self-fund a 14-day quarantine as a deterrent to protect highly vulnerable Aboriginal communities within its borders, and Tasmania's just not letting anyone in).

The government -- a fiscally conservative centre-right party that used the promise of a national budget surplus as its main platform - very quickly recognised the scale and severity of this situation and have since released a $130 billion 'jobkeeper payment' that gives $1500 every two-weeks to employees who can't work due to COVID-19. It's directed at employers who then nominate their employees to receive it (the idea being that this will keep workers linked to their business and speed up a recovery). It's part of a larger national strategy -- that's still emerging -- around the idea of putting the economy in 'hibernation'. The large irrelevance of party politics over the last three weeks has been one of the more interesting observations.

The weirdest feeling to me -- since I've so far been fortunate to be insulated from the economic and health impacts -- is how much time seems to be stretching during this period. I was talking to my girlfriend last night that I remember this feeling when I was on a long backpacking trip. The odd sensation of slipping out of the daily rhythm of time. I read somewhere that its got to do with how our brains' process new and significant experiences -- when something familiar and routine happens we don't devote much mental space or significance to it and so a month of work can seem like a blink, but when we experience the new and the novel our memory of the event expands and time will seem to slow around it. A month used to feel like 3, and 3 months like a year. I really wonder how distant 'before' is going to feel when this finally passes.

Kaspars F. from Latvia:

It's interesting to observe how a whole country can switch to living at home. It's frightening how hard it's to comprehend the true scale of this, since you cannot see the actual effect on the lives of most harshly affected parties.

Another worrying trend I'm seeing is that since everything is working out relatively fine already, people are starting to doubt the government's tactics. These most harshly affected groups are re-grouping and starting to lobby for their interests, not society's, using methods which are not OK.

I'd rather say that our covid-19 taming measures are more or less mild, yet very effective. Our numbers are really good considering other countries. And, considering that after closing all international travel, we've repatriated thousands of citizens from abroad. Many from Italy's most struck areas, since it is (was) mountain skiing season.

As for measures - they are swift, yet relaxed for now. Total lockdown is not an option, since our economy would not be able to bear that. It would be a short-term option if the amount infections would get out of hand. For now it's being controlled and our health care is handling it.

We are actively testing, tracing contacts, directing infected or potentially infected people to stay at home with small but effective fines if they do not. Physical distancing, recommending work from home for those who can, doing groceries once a week. You can go outside, if you want to, but keep the recommended distance and in groups of no more than two people. Masks are not yet mandatory.

Adam V. from North London:

We're Americans living in North London, and so far, things have been okay here. Everything but essential work is closed, schools and nurseries are closed except for children of "key workers", pretty much everything is shut down. At home, my wife is a research biologist and her lab is closed, so she's been taking care of our two kids (aged 1 and 3) at home while I work as a software engineer; each day we swap for a couple hours so she can get a break from the kids and do what work she can (drafting papers and such). Our youngest had a fever about three weeks ago (almost certainly, she's 1 so she gets fevers semi-regularly), so we self-isolated for two weeks, and it's been very nice being able to take walks and such again.

Overall, my impression is that our existing privilege has just been reinforced by the crisis. My wife and I are both still being paid our full salaries, but we're not having to pay nursery fees, so we're actually better off financially. We no longer have to commute or drop off and pick up the kids at nursery, which gives us more family time, and it's wonderful to be able to finish working and just walk downstairs and play with the kids before dinner. Our street is terraced single-family homes with roof terraces, so yesterday the street had a terrace cocktail party in the late afternoon. Things are better in the UK than in the US (we have the NHS and the government is paying 80% of the wages of furloughed employees, for instance), but there are a lot of people who are going to have their lives thrown into chaos as a result of the pandemic and we're quite lucky to not be among them.

Alycia K. writes in from a suburban Portland, Oregon:

Both of us have been super fortunate to have jobs where we can work remotely. We cone from a restaurant background and many friends are unemployed now. We had career changes a few years ago though. He works for a health care provider, on the IT side, and he's busier than ever. I'm an advisor at a community college, and my shift to remote work has been a challenge. Enrollment is way down because a) online class don't suit many of our students, b) many programs can't be completed remotely (think Auto Repair, Dental Hygiene, etc.) and c) many students have lost their jobs leaving little room for education that already is expensive. It'll be interesting to see how this quarter pans out and what the next academic year looks like.

From my understanding Oregon has been flattening the curve a little more than other states, which I'm proud of. There are a lot fewer cars on the roads, people are still walking a lot but you can see everyone (at least in my corner of the world) maintaining the 6 feet distance). Portland is known for its rain which helps keep people inside it but when the sun is out, it's glorious and green here does you see an uptick in walkers, cyclists, roller bladers (yes!), and skaters.

I personally am limiting going out to only grocery stores as needed (every 10 days or so) with the exception of multiple walks on my neighborhood each day. I run (or I ran might be more accurate) and was training for a marathon that ended up understandably cancelled at the end of March. For some reason running just feels too much right now, whether it's my personal disappointment after months of preparing for an event or just wanting to go slow, take this strange time in, and enjoy our tulip and daffodil spring in at a different pace.

Tom W. lives in Belgium in a small town near Antwerp:

We've been in lockdown since Friday 13th of March. The Belgian government ordered that everyone who could work from home, should do so. Both me and my wife have desk jobs, so we've been home since 3 weeks, now starting week 4. And there is our lovely son, who is only seven months old. Normally he would go to daycare, and he's still allowed, but we've decided to keep him home as much as possible (which is in line with what the government wants). It's been a challenge, combining care and work, and so we've both been working less than we should've done in a normal situation. We've brought him to daycare once last week, both having a whole day of meetings, but afterwards we both felt that that was not the right thing to do.

All so-called non-essential stores are closed. Only stores selling food can stay open. Restaurants are closed as well, though more and more are serving take away. It's one of the benefits of modern technology, being able to communicate these things quickly. Most people follow the government guidelines and since this weekend it seems we've kind of reached the peek, whereas our hospital Intensive Care-capacity is still at 50 percent. Thanks to quick handling, we've managed to escape horror scenarios like in Italy. But we all realize this could still take a while. Right now, the lockdown officially ends on 19th of April, but it probably will be half of May when certain rules would become less strict.

We're lucky that we're with the three of us, but some of our single friends feel quite lonely. We try to videocall them as much as possible (oh, modern world!) and every two weeks we organize a virtual pub evening, opening a bar on Zoom. Everyone brings their own drinks and snacks, and we have a chaotic but heartwarming talk with 9 to 12 people.

Bret S. reports from Des Moines, Iowa:

I work for a university which initially did an extended spring break starting in mid-March. We have since moved to remote learning for the rest of the year, as has my wife's school district after some fits and starts. Iowa was also fairly early in closing all bars and restaurants. However, we still don't have a statewide shelter-in-place policy as of the first full week of April. I believe there are only a handful of states without such an order. Many people continue to go to work, unfortunately. I've heard that some businesses are having people work from home two weeks and in the office two weeks, on a rotating basis. This has been met with...skepticism. My brother and sister in law live here as well, and both are working. She is a nurse, but as she's pregnant, the current plan is to move her to desk duty when the planned surge procedures take place. Our infection numbers are low in the metro and the state, but rising quickly. She will likely be moved this week.

While I'm online personally and professionally, it seems there are two different worlds: people who are in the internet hive mind and those who aren't. My wife and I have been keeping tabs on this since January, and were dismayed by people in early March still planning to go on spring break to Florida, California, Mexico and more. Many people enjoying outdoor recreation appear clueless about or unwilling to follow physical distancing measures in parks and on trails.

Mike H. from Omaha, Nebraska:

Nebraska is still in social distancing, not stay at home but we are really stay-at-home. Most non-food stores are closed or have limited hours. Restaurants and bars have take-out only. Playgrounds are now off-limits after a nice weekend had tons of families in the parks.

At first I had co-workers who thought that this was a one or two week stint of working at home... now we are on Week 4 and frankly, it's been isn't easy on them. I'm a contractor and is/was my first on-premises gig in three years so I understand what remote work is like. A month after I reluctantly started, we are all sent to work from home indefinitely. The CEO says things like "welcome to your new normal" so I have no idea why they thought it would be a week or so. Anyway, they have all the tech for remote collaboration but not necessarily how to use it. They complain how many meetings they have now, but there is also less drive-by conversations taking up your time. I also pointed out in a review meeting that they are making more decisions in meetings than they did before. Again -- interesting how it plays out.

More Urban schools aren't prepared...you can pick up a packet once a week at school (same for every student per grade in the district) but there is no verification that it was done... so basically those students are done for the year. My nephews go to school in a less-tech school. The district doesn't even let them web-conference with a teacher because "the teacher may see something that violates privacy"). Their mom (my wife's sister) says they get little direction.

An anonymous reader from NYC:

Friends have talked about how inevitable it is that we'll all know someone who has it, and that time has already come and passed. The thing with living in New York is that you know a lot of people who no longer live here, so it's been interesting speaking with friends who seem to be seeing it all through two lenses. I have been especially conscious of it all since January, having known people who recently returned from places where things were developing rapidly already. I remember coming back from a trip to the West Coast at the end of January and my seatmates and I were the only ones who took it upon ourselves to wipe down our immediate area with wipes, joking amongst ourselves about us perhaps being paranoid and yet resolutely cleaning all surfaces in tandem.

Stores here are decently stocked but the usual staples like flour and beans, are in short supply. I've had the best luck at the Asian grocery stores. It was my own mother who showed me a moment of kindness on a recent trip to one. She simply asked the cashier how she was holding up while we paid.The woman smiled in delight as if the very act of being asked was a minor miracle. It was all the more striking to me given recent attacks on Asian Americans, which have been deeply disheartening and made me slightly ever more apprehensive the last few times I was out in the world. It's also made me more attentive more generally to the ways in which I can do my part to safely provide support to communities who need it.

An anonymous reader from Tokyo, Japan:

I'm an American expat living in Tokyo working for a U.S. company, where I've been for the last 6 months.

Many of my coworkers and friends watched Wuhan and the Diamond Princess in horror and looked for ways to return to the U.S. Some of my coworkers' neighbors were on the Diamond Princess. But for the last month or so, it seemed like we dodged a bullet, and the consensus was that we're far better off here than we would be in the U.S.

But that's starting to change now. Japan managed to avoid the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases that the rest of the world is experiencing, showing mostly linear growth throughout February and March. It was a mystery to many in the world, attributed variously to Japan's bowing, famed hygiene (a sort of built-in social distancing), and experience with contact tracing and isolation in the wake of SARS.

Anecdotally, though, I don't think the first two did much at all. Japanese people never picked up the idea of sneezing/coughing into your elbow, even now - almost all public coughs and sneezes that I've seen have been into the palm of the hand. Shortly after Wuhan kicked off, many people here started wearing gloves, and I observed one old man sneeze into his gloved hand on the train before grabbing the pole again. Japanese people will send a look of shame on anyone who coughs or sneezes more than once at a time, but think nothing of coughing into their hands. This is to say nothing of the designed lack of soap and paper towels at most public restrooms.

And mask-wearing. Most people don't wear masks correctly at all. They wear masks the way you'd wear a scarf to protect you from the cold, or a raincoat to protect you from the rain. They slip it down over their nose and mouth to drink coffee, take it off, put it back on, touch it with their hands, reuse it, etc. I even saw a whole family wearing N95 masks with only the top strap so they could breath out the bottom! It certainly provides some benefit by keeping these folks from infecting others, but once things start heating up here, all these habits will bite hard.

The trains are still packed here too because there is almost no work-from-home culture here, and leaders have been wary of doing anything that would curtail the 9-5 work culture. All we've gotten so far are polite requests not to go out on the weekend to see the cherry blossoms (which didn't work), and not to go out after work. But everyone still packs into the trains, and COVID-19 doesn't go on break from 9-5. I'm luckily able to work from home, and we've stopped taking the train, going to izakayas or restaurants, and severely curtailing our time outside, but it seems like we're largely alone in this. I have a feeling we'll be doing for a long time to come if Japan is STILL this slow to react.

Judah M. from Oslo, Norway:

Things here are going really well compared to other countries. As of today, Norway has 78 deaths from Covid-19. We started having cases in late February after winter-break travelers returned from their ski vacations in Italy (I know...why go to Italy to ski when you LIVE IN NORWAY??). It spread rather slowly in early March, but on Thursday, March 12, the government announced that all schools would be closed and asked people to work from home if possible. Things progressed from there, closing bars, restaurants, concerts...now almost everything is closed except grocery stores. Norway received more unemployment applications in one day than in all of 2019...so even though our death count is low and the hospitals are functioning well, a huge amount of people are now without jobs (just like everywhere). The government quickly introduced a special package: everyone laid off will get 100% pay for the first 20 days, then it will go down to a smaller percentage (60-80%) until you start working again.

On the personal side, I'm a Logistics Manager so have been able to work from home and we're busier than ever (supplying electronic components). My husband is a chef and is laid off. We don't have children, so I think things are rather easy for us and I try to keep that perspective when I talk to co-workers working from home and trying to care for their children at the same time, or when I see news of people in other countries who don't even have a home to confine themselves in. Norwegians are rather private people and keep their distance anyway, but they believe deeply in coming together for the good of everyone. They have a word that doesn't have a direct English translation: "dugnad." Wikipedia describes it as "Dugnad is a Norwegian term for voluntary work done together with other people...is translatable to the spirit of will to work together for a better community." Soon after the stay-at-home orders came in, the Prime Minister announced that we were all contributing to a "Corona-dugnad," and it appears that people are really taking it to heart. Of course you go for a walk and see a group in the park talking too close to each other, but so far we've been able to function without having the strict permission orders like in Paris, etc.

Our neighbor Sweden has been trying out "herd immunity" and the numbers aren't great...so I think most people here feel positive and that trusting the (competent) government was a good move. Watching the news from back home in Texas and the rest of the US has been very worrisome and maddening...my parents are in their late 60's and being so far away is definitely an added stress.

Phil P. reporting in from Bamako, Mali:

I am a part-owner of a hotel/restaurant/bar. With the same business partner, I also run scooter trips in Senegal/Gambia/Guinea-Bissau. We shut down the hotel before Mali had its first announced cases as they were continuing to let in flights from Europe and every neighboring country already had dozens of cases. Our last scooter trips of the season were torpedoed in a two week period that saw cases skyrocket worldwide and most international flights cancelled. I moved into the hotel with my family, my business partner, a few friends and a skeleton crew of staff. Since then, Mali has had its first cases and they continue to tick up each day. The government has taken a few measures (curfew, nightclubs closed, shortened workday), but nothing nearly as drastic as what neighboring countries have done. Mosques are still allowed to have public gatherings and legislative elections went ahead without delay.

There is a worry that they are under-testing and by the time (if) the number of cases explodes it will be too late for any severe confinement measures. Many people are taking the virus seriously and trying to stay home and limit their movements, but the informal economy is the name of the game here and many people live on day-to-day commerce. Asking them to stay in the house for 14 days or longer without government support is not a reasonable request.

For our part, we are trying to stay in business and keep all of our staff. Their wages are currently our number one priority. We have survived a few crises in our day - clients kidnapped in 2011, coup d'etat in 2012, ebola in 2014-15, persistent threat of terrorism since 2015, and last year we were evicted and forced to move to a new location (we lost most of our rooms in that move) - so it would really be a shame if this was the one that finally did us in. We are very much known for our atmosphere and physical space, a place where you can come to meet new people, eat, drink and relax. We are starting to do deliveries this week, but that has never been our bread and butter. As many restaurant owners have noted around the world, it seems that dining and going out could be permanently disrupted by this virus. We are fortunate that we do not operate on the razor thin margins that are customary for the service industry in the west, but our business has been in a perpetual state of disruption since late 2011.

I am American and a fair number of Americans recently left on a repatriation flight. Mali's health infrastructure is extremely limited and some people were/are also worried about societal breakdown etc. I am less worried about the latter. Mali's social fabric has been under near constant pressure since the coup in 2012, but it has not unravelled, at least not in Bamako or in the south. I would be lying if I didn't say my anxiety is through the roof, though. Most of that is due to the uncertainty surrounding our business and the fact that my wife is pregnant with our second child.

In the meantime, we have plenty of food and everyone is in good health. We have good company and lots of room to roam. A swimming pool and constant sunshine doesn't hurt either. While I have many friends that have struggled with children in confinement, we have been fortunate to find ourselves in a parenting by committee situation, which is basically the norm in Mali anyway. Our 3-year-old son has constant entertainment without anyone feeling overburdened.

I also wanted to include Amelia Rayno's recent report from El Salvador:

In El Salvador, we have been under martial law for more than 2 weeks. Multiple kinds of paperwork is required to go outside. Hundreds have been arrested for violating the law, as interpreted by the military and more than 4,000 are in containment centers around the nation.

Perhaps even more pressing is the creep of hunger, in so many homes that can't afford to miss work for 2 days, much less 2 weeks. I am fortunate to have some liberties as press, that have allowed me to continue working, photographing and in the process, do a little bit of volunteering, while my travels up to the villages above Santiago Nonualco provided a rare opportunity to be surrounded by nature once more (even at 97 degrees, it was welcomed) and receive another important dose of perspective.

I am fortunate to have income still coming in, plenty of food to eat and a comfortable place to live. I am lucky, I am privileged beyond belief. Never does that hit me harder than when I walk into the villages of this beautiful country and see those whose homes are made of stick and mud and plastic bags, who barely had enough to eat before, when they were selling their goods. And now... and now. The reality is, this does not affect all of us equally, and while it can be easy to look inward during this time and focus on our own anxiety and boredom, I hope we do not stop looking outward, too.

And also Christine Merola's report -- she works at a Stop & Shop in Queens.

We didn't have gloves, we didn't have Plexiglas at that point. It was just: We gotta get the customers out. We got beaten up but we came together. These are times that none of us have ever seen, but we knew what we had to do. Now we have Plexiglas. We use only every other register. We have tape on the floor six feet apart, where people should be standing. They're trying to get us masks. In the beginning, we were not allowed to wear masks. They didn't want the customers to feel intimidated.

I wing it. To be honest, when everybody was staying home at first, I was pissed. I wanted to stay home. But then I said, "Chris, really? You have a mortgage, you have bills." I'm thankful that I have a job. I go in now at four in the morning, so I get up at ten to three. I'm exhausted. I interact with well over a hundred people each day, between employees, customers, venders. Some days, you can't hide. Yesterday was so busy, it actually aggravated me. I'm starting to think people feel immune in the store.

I have my Clorox wipes. I wipe down my keyboard, my mouse, my stapler, adding machine, the pen, any drawer that I will use with a handle, the phone, the desk -- everything I touch. My hands are killing me they're so dry. I don't wear eyeliner anymore, because I'm always afraid it's gonna run and my fingers are always near my eyes.

Beth S. is in Mexico City, Mexico:

I'm writing from Mexico City, where the mood is still relatively calm. It's a bit surreal to be in a major city where the crisis is several weeks behind the US cities where our family and friends live. We've been encouraged to stay at home, wash our hands, wear masks when sick, and maintain a safe distance from others (the government even invented a superhero, Susana Distancia, to encourage this). High-end restaurants have opted to close or limit their service to takeout and delivery, though many taco stands and family-owned fondas continue operating normally. The majority of Mexico's work force is in the informal sector-street food vendors, tradespeople, etc., who have no safety net or way to work remotely, so it would be impossible to enforce social distancing without exacerbating the enormous poverty that already exists here. The markets are still open and vendors are scrambling to adapt and provide delivery service. Everyone here is deeply concerned about what lies ahead, especially given how under-resourced the healthcare system is and the risky approach the government has opted for, which has involved strictly limiting testing and postponing any extreme shelter-in-place orders.

For a peek into how the city is responding I recommend the incredible drone and street photography of Santiago Arau. You'll also see his gorgeous shots of the jacarandas in bloom -- March to May is the most beautiful time of year here and the summery weather and flowers in bloom only add to the weirdness of the moment.

If you or your readers have a favorite restaurant or market in Mexico City, I encourage you to look it up on Instagram -- they likely have a way for you to contribute or purchase a gift card. The famous Churreria El Moro set up a donation page here, for instance. The peso is currently the weakest it's been against the dollar in decades, so contributions in USD make a huge difference right now.

Leigh S. also writes in from Mexico:

I'm an Australian solo-parent writing from Queretaro, 3 hours north-west of Mexico City.

Here, the state government has gotten it's act together, despite a very slow-off-the-mark response from AMLO. Schools were shut down as of 18th March -- including preschool, where I'd just started my 18 month old son for a grand total of 3 days, before I kept him home a week with a cold and then the virus hit (luckily he had a run-of-the mill cold, not Covid19.).

Local plazas that were the bustling hub of the city have been taped off, and crews in haz gear drive slowly up and down the streets disinfecting the steps around the (many) colonial churches. Most of these, for better or worse, remain open, and this week -- Easter -- threatens to [welcome] frightening numbers of religious observers, many of whom are failing to observe social distancing. ("It's in God's hands", one friends and church-goer told me after I questioned why she was still attending and coming into physical contact with others. "No, it's literally in yours," I responded.)

Friends report that local health services are so far coping well, with Hospitals taking disinfection to a new level, and chemo chairs and beds now being set up a safe distance apart. That said, these are the private hospitals. The public ones receive the least % of funding in all of Latin America, and we've already experienced numerous issues with immunisations because the country simply runs out, which doesn't bode well for other essentials needed at scale during a pandemic. (And this is in a relatively wealthy city).

I'm lucky. I do consulting work back in Australia, and my area of work (digital communications) had sped up, but I'm struggling to find hours to do the work I feel I can't say no to in this environment with a cute but exhausting little guy, and no child-care available. Around me, friends are closing hostels, restaurants and stores, not knowing whether they'll be able to reopen. Crime looks like it's beginning to rise as cartels get desperate and take opportunities while the country and other gangs are distracted. It won't take much to get completely out of hand. If that happens, my aim is to get to the Australian embassy and try to return to a country that's no longer home, but will offer safety to my kid. Because we have that option. 130 million Mexicans don't.

Bruce C. is also in Mexico, in Playa del Carmen:

I'm Australian and my wife is from New Zealand. We've been travelling around Mexico and Central America for the past 15 months; we quit our jobs and sold all our stuff to embark on the adventure of our lifetimes.

Currently we're holed up in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We had friends due to visit us in Mexico this week and today we were supposed to be going to Cuba with them. All that is out the window now of course and we've been watching in horror as all of the neighbouring countries have been toppling like dominoes under the strain of the virus, closing their borders and enforcing lockdowns etc. Mexico appears to be following the same curve as most other countries but with much less underlying medical infrastructure to rely on when things really escalate.

Our situation in Playa is very comfortable. We are the only guests in a 5 apartment complex and have a pool to ourselves plus glorious weather. We know there are people all around the world doing it much tougher.

We were supposed to be travelling all of this year but with that looking very unlikely now we have started to think about returning home. This will entail putting ourselves in vulnerable situations (airports, planes) plus a mandatory 14 day enforced isolation (house arrest) on arrival back in Australia. And we don't have a house of our own to go back to.

An anonymous reader from Portland, Oregon:

I work for Amazon and have been remote for the last 5 years. Only last year, I started going into the new PDX office so transitioning back to my home office hasn't been that big of a transition. Figuring out how to balance my kindergarten aged kid has been a struggle. We can easily get through a day if I'm willing to follow his whims, but imposing structure can quickly become a battle. I don't feel like I have the brain power to actually drive any school-like structure.

I've started doing shifts with Portland's Mutual Aid network, as a dispatcher. It's a really consuming task. People can use this Google form to request support and people can use this form to offer support. The dispatchers are basically going through the giant spreadsheet of requests and trying to match them with support offers. we are primarily focused on food aid at this point, there are so many people who are stuck home with no food. We're working with the Oregon Food Bank to connect our people with their neighborhood deliveries -- they don't have the infrastructure to actually coordinate who will get the boxes. We're working almost entirely over text message, which means there's always a delay in communication, so you are constantly context switching. By the end of two hours, I feel like my eyeballs are about to roll out of my eyes. Since we're self organized, there's also a lot of changes going on -- people figuring out better processes and trying to communicate with about 40 people that are all doing dispatch. It's overwhelming and exhausting, but I am so happy to be able to do it -- so many of my similarly middle class friends are spinning out, feeling like they don't even know where to start with helping.

My income has stayed steady and will actually increase this month, which is so surreal to be working so closely with people who are barely/not at all getting by.

I have been doing shifts during my work day, trying to make Amazon pay for this work.

Robin K reports in from Uppsala, Sweden:

I work as a freelance copywriter and graphic designer, and last week I had what I suspect will be my last assignment for a while. My biggest client, who makes up about 50% of my business, told me they had to cut all freelancers until at least October, and all my other clients have dropped out as well. I have money saved away and my wife has a pretty good job, so we'll probably be fine and I really don't mind cutting down on expenses actually.

Me, my wife and our 3 year old son are still healthy, so that's good. Uppsala seems to currently have the virus under control it seems, but I suspect that will change. Swedes are generally pretty good at following the government's advice and regulations, but I fear our entire country is not taking this seriously enough. I would prefer much harder restrictions so as to really, really flatten the curve and not overwhelm our healthcare system.

My biggest worry is that because my wife is pregnant and the baby is expected in a couple of weeks, I'm afraid that the hospital will be over capacity and that we will not get the care that we need if anything goes wrong during the birth, or that one or all of us will get the virus while at the hospital.

I'm also very worried about my mother who is stranded in Portugal. She's in the southern part, which pretty much haven't had any cases at all so far, but it's probably just a matter of weeks or maybe months before they do. She's pretty healthy in general, but she is 62 years old and I don't trust that she will get proper care if she gets sick.

An even bigger worry though is my sister who currently lives in Scottsdale, AZ. Your government in general and president in particular seems so incredible ill-equipped to handle this pandemic. I tried to convince her to fly home a couple of weeks ago, but she didn't want to leave her boyfriend, who didn't want to leave his family. Now I'm worried it's gonna get all Mad Max over there, and it will be too late for her to travel to Sweden. She also has a whole bunch of medical issues and basically no money.

I think I've probably been playing it cool thus far, because writing all this down made me feel physically anxious about the whole thing for the first time.

Joakim R. is in Vejbystrand, Sweden:

I'm an American living in southern Sweden together with my wife. We're in our small summer cottage in an ancient fishing village on the coast of the North Atlantic, trying to grasp and cope with the pandemic. We feel so fortunate to live in a rural community (pop 3k) right now and not Los Angeles, where I'm originally from.

We run a small media company focused on travel stories, film and photography and as you can imagine, our business is currently in a state of suspended animation. We're hoping that things will turn around soon and that the Swedish government's hands-off approach to the pandemic pays off so that life as we once knew it can resume. Most of all, we're hoping (praying) that family and friends around the world don't get sick.

Martino S. writes from Trieste, Italy:

We are in a lockdown since March 9th and we are starting to see how it's impacting the daily infections and deaths count. In a way things are not that bad because the surge has been low in our region, with "just" 2153 cases as of yesterday.

I'm living with my partner and we have a 3.5 year old girl. We are very lucky because we have a small garden where we can hang out, enjoy the sun and do a lot of activities. Work-wise we are fortunate, I'm a web designer and all our employees can work from home even if our company is considered "essential" (facepalm). My partner is a grade 1 and 2 italian teacher at the local international school, she has to face the reality of online classes, that means she is working more now than before the school closing, in mid February. Since we both work my dad is allowed to come to our home. In a way this is very convenient for him, otherwise he would have been confined in a small apartment.

Today I used my "essential work privilege" to take a stroll in the city. It's not empty, I'd say there is 30% of normal people and car traffic. Almost everybody is wearing face masks. I really need to make a few of those with colorful material, the medical one are sending a bad message: "we are all sick", we really don't need that.

The main issue for me is that the local government has enforced very strict rules: no going outside the house, not even for a quick walk alone or with the kids, no running, no individual sports. The main reasoning behind this is that "if everybody does this there's going to be a crowd". But dog owners are allowed to go out. This has polarized the public sentiment. On one side a lot of online (useless) petitions to allow kids to get out, on the other side public shaming, bad words and requests for even stricter rules. The latter argument is that "as long there are people outside this is not going to end". I'm afraid I've lost a few friends in this process, inviting them to reason on the individual responsibility instead of blindly following the rules and obeying them.

We have the army on the streets patrolling, and you need a piece of paper to get outside. Fines go from 400€ to 3000€.

Theoretically the lockdown is imposed until April 13th, but they are going for at least 2 weeks extension. I hope we are going to be able to get out in May. The country's state of emergency is going to be active until the end of July.

Marie from Toronto, Canada:

I am a mom of two, living in Toronto with my husband.

3 years ago I was involved in a car accident that led to me requiring brain surgery and has left me disabled and severely restricted my mobility.

Up until now, we relied heavily on grocery delivery services but since the lockdown in our city, that service has been flooded with requests and I can't get time slots.

The personal care workers, physiotherapist, dietician, social worker and occupational therapist who were visiting me and helping me get through my days are no longer coming. It has been a struggle as I can feel myself physically regressing.

My husband has been going shopping for us but is also trying to juggle running his family owned business who falls in the grey area between essential / non essential business the province is shutting down. We don't know when we will have any clarity about the legality of being open.

From a purely practical perspective, our family has already been living a limited life and what is happening around us only feels like everyone else is now in our boat too - we are struggling financially and logistically, but emotionally nothing has really changed. We mourned the loss of our normal life a long time ago and are now fully adapted to... this.

I spend my days sewing masks for friends and family and my kids deliver them on their bikes, I tell them it is phys ed class.

Lisa J. from Phoenix, Arizona:

The Coronavirus has been slow to hit Arizona, most likely because temps are already in the mid to upper 80's, basically summer weather for everyone else. We are home to a massive population of 'sunbirds' -- retirees that flock here during our warm winter months to escape the snow of their regular life. So we have a great number of people who are in the risky age for contracting disease. Yet, they seem unaffected by the threat and instead are taking advantage of special hours set aside for them to shop. At our local Costco, for example, the cashier told us that the line to get in starts at 4:30 am, even though the doors don't open until 7. Standing in line with hundreds of other elderly people so you can buy toilet paper just doesn't seem like the smartest decision to me. And if you're able to stand for that long, are you really the demographic these adjusted hours are trying to support?

I work at a school, which has been doing remote instruction since March 16 and our governor has already declared schools will not return in person this school year. As a college counselor, my work is primarily with seniors -- guiding them through the college application process, teaching them how to make decisions, helping them find a good fit for where they will spend their next four years. This year has definitely been a tough one for them, with prom and graduation cancelled, and no real closure for them as a class. An unexpected benefit, however, has been the increase in students reaching out to me. They want phone calls, Skype or Zoom meetings, and just a chance to connect. And more often than not, we talk more about how they are feeling or other things going on in their life than we do about college. I feel like I am doing the best counseling of my career.

Jay R. writes from northern California:

We've been trapped in our house for a month now. 7 of us: 3 boys (16, 13, 11), my wife, a dog, a cat, and myself. The first couple of weeks felt like a staycation. Week 3 was disorientating, like time had stopped. A full week of Tuesdays. "When are all these people leaving?" I kept wanting to ask myself. But week 4 hit everyone hard. We began to hear stories. People we know. The kids began to vocalize anxieties. Usually right before bedtime. "Will I have to repeat 7th grade?" "Will grandma and grandpa get sick?" "Will I die?" And, of course, "Where are we going on summer vacation?" Yesterday the dishwasher broke and for some reason that really made me want to cry. I'm just so grateful that we're all together and everyone is healthy.

Jason W. is in Cedar Falls, Iowa:

I live in a community of about 170,000 in northeast Iowa, home to UNI (University of Northern Iowa) and the place where they make all the green John Deere tractors. On March 16th six of my family members and I were supposed to fly from Chicago to Miami for spring break, but we turned back at the last minute. Later that week our schools closed until mid-April, later extended to the end of April. Restaurants had closed by the end of spring break but nearly all are open for takeout. We aren't under a "stay at home" order but it seems to me that if we were not much would be different.

I work for a large industrial company in engineering and we've all been working from home for about 3 weeks. Our production lines are still open and people can go into the office if they need to. We have many family members in this community and are trying to balance safety risk with quality of life relationships. I've been working from my dad's house while he's here by himself. My Dad started off downplaying the impact of all of this but now he goes out in a mask. My niece and father-in-law have been coming to my house regularly. We've had weekly check-ins to assess risk and so far have been willing to maintain these connection points. We worry because my brother-in-law is recovering from cancer. I don't know if our decisions are right or not.

Yesterday the weather was nice so I went on a long bike ride on a paved trail. There were definitely more people out and about than would have normally been the case on an average April Tuesday. Most people were maintaining reasonable distances but a few weren't. The park bathrooms were closed so I went into a convenience store. I worry that closing too many things forces more people into fewer places. There is the underlying sense that our county isn't a hotspot -- but how would we know? I think widespread testing is the way back, the way forward.

Luke H. writes from central Michigan:

It is Day 16 of Michigan's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" initiative. As long as I am productive, I think I am fine. I take my temperature and vitamins every day. I mostly eat the same things: fruit and/or vegetable smoothies for lunch, chicken and vegetables for dinner. Thanks to something you mentioned long ago, I practice intermittent fasting. Low/no calorie powdered drink packets add variety to my water intake. I work on what I can from home, mostly early in the morning and in the evenings so I can take advantage of the sunlight.

Decided to no longer be a cis-white-American male with an unread copy of Infinite Jest on the shelf. To remain active during the day, I've also been listening to it via an Audible free trial. I go for a walk most days through a nature trail that (thankfully) starts on my block and bring the book with me. I listen to it on the way there and back, and when I am doing just about anything around the house. Now that the weather is nice that includes yard work.

I just finished a free trial of the Criterion Channel, which I signed up for mostly to watch out-of-print titles. Managed to squeeze in 21 films in 14 days.

I am worried about everything I should be, but for now I take it day to day and try and make the most of this time off. A part of me felt guilty for not deciding to master an instrument or conquer a new language, but I got over that pretty quickly.

Scott K. from Chandler, Arizona:

I live in Chandler, Arizona which is about 250,000-300,000 people give or take. I am currently working from home for an unknown amount of time for a large company that moved almost all employees out of office once a case was found in one of our buildings. I am extremely grateful to be able to have that ability when so many of my friends have been laid off due to COVID-19. It definitely is a different experience though.

As far as routine, not too much has changed, just the process. I have video chats for family dinners and make a point to call or text people I normally keep in contact with since I can no longer see anyone due to the quarantine. I make a point to stay within a five mile or under radius as much as I can and eat and shop local as much as possible.

I am missing the beginning of the baseball season but life is so much more important than sports.

I have felt isolation, boredom, rage (but only against the administration), and loss (of a "normal" life). I'm, however, have not been fearful.

I am also reminded of one thing I learned this year too:

At the beginning of the March, I was in Florida to celebrate my Grandmother's 85th birthday. She was born in 1935 in the midst of the Great Depression and then World War 2. We asked her how she had lived through all of that as a sort of family oral history (not even thinking of what was to come now as it was here but maybe not going to be so bad). She talked about how they really just took care of themselves (gardens, homemade clothes, etc.) She talked about having to live without things (elastic for underwear so it was a drawstring instead). I want to say it was a prescient moment for where we are now. We can do things differently not because we have to but that we should. It really is for the greater good.

Ann F. with a report from Michigan's Upper Peninsula:

We are up here from Chicago in what used to be a summer cottage but has been our year-around home since my mother, now 95, went into assisted living here 18 months ago. I have felt much less useful since my mother's facility went into lockdown mode three weeks ago, with no visitors allowed. Fortunately she can still talk on the phone, but it is very hard for her since she's always been the world's most sociable person and now even their meals are just delivered to their rooms. And she was reading a book a day but she had cataract surgery on March 9th and now can't read until she gets new glasses for her astigmatism which, of course, is now postponed indefinitely. But so far, though three other long term care places in the county have cases, her facility is still healthy.

People are being pretty good about social distancing. The real problem has been that its a huge outdoor adventure community and the trails were getting so full of walkers and bikers that the city finally had to shut down the most popular parks. Some local efforts of note. First, we have a big mask-making group, aiming to make 10,000 masks for local health care providers and first responders. They've passed the 6000 mark and are going strong. A higher tech group is using 3-D printers to make face shields -- they've approaching 2000. Second is a morale-booster -- people all over the Upper Peninsula are decorating their windows with hearts. In our unincorporated village the post office and almost every local business have hearts in their windows. Third, financial support. In addition to a dedicated United Way effort, there's also a group raising money just to distribute to restaurant workers. Fourth, and this is one that's probably happening elsewhere but I haven't seen it, a small group of local museum staff have started to collect local responses for the historical record, saving Facebook haiku, new music composed by local musicians, etc.

Lisa L. writes from Toronto, Canada:

I used to work from a lovely community co-working space, but now all of us -- me, my husband, and each of my boys, have computers set up at work stations around the house. The kids officially "returned" to school in the form of online learning this week, but the assignments are pretty light. Nothing from here on will really count for marks, although both of them seem grateful to have a bit of focus and some work to do. My 13-year old spends his morning chatting with his friends over Discord as they work on assignments (and chat about Fortnite strategies). Later in the afternoon he then chats with them again while gaming. My eldest is 17, so before school was shut down he was a couple of weeks away from midterm marks submissions and hearing back from universities. That process has been delayed, and in addition to the stress of where he will get accepted and what a big change this is for a graduating high school student, there's all this on top of it. I'm not even sure what university will look like in September, but let's not go there just yet. Oh also (I wrote you about this already) he and his friends from computer science class have created their high school in Minecraft, with an impressive amount of detail. I think it's pretty awesome, but it also breaks my heart because this may be the last time they are together "in school."

My husband runs a construction company of about 40 people. (Or it used to be.) The province allowed construction sites to stay open until early April, but my husband's company temporarily shut down their sites a few weeks ago as they didn't feel confident about the safety of their workers, and temporarily laid off their site crews. That decision had mixed reaction: most of the site guys were pretty disappointed to be laid off, and some clients weren't happy that their projects weren't moving forward since it was still technically allowed. Most construction is now shut down, but there are exceptions, so some of their work will likely start up once they can get additional safety and distancing measures in place. Every day brings new information, new rules and restrictions from the province, new relief programs from the federal government, so it seems like they have to reinvent their business every day. Although the relief programs have seemed generous at first glance, there are stipulations and clauses which mean a lot of research and work trying to figure out how to qualify and which programs make the most sense. For example, the government has offered to subsidize wages by 75% so employers don't have to lay off employees, however businesses have to show a 15% reduction in business from last year's numbers. If your company has grown significantly in the last year, or business just starting tapering off in March, you may not immediately qualify for the subsidy. Still, I am grateful that we live in Canada and that our government is most definitely trying to react with programs to help as quickly as they can.

Groceries is what everyone seems to talk about if I (rarely) see someone on the street (staying a safe distance) or talk online or over the phone. Grocery delivery companies have been completely overwhelmed by demand, so it's pretty hard to get a delivery slot earlier than 2 weeks away, and you have to wake up early and log in when they release new time slots. My last physical trip to the grocery store was depressing. With all of the markings on the floors trying to keep lanes one-way or people apart, it only takes a few people to ignore these and the system breaks down. I wore my homemade mask and felt like I held my breath the whole time, while watching incredulously as one patron casually walked the aisles chatting on her cell phone the whole time. I'd say only about 1/2 the shoppers had masks, and I'm not sure any of the staff did. Luckily more and more local companies are offering delivery or curbside pickup of goods, so we are trying to support smaller business as much as we can. Many distributors that used to supply restaurants are trying to shift their business to residential customers, but the adjustment isn't always seamless. As a consumer it takes project-management level coordination to get in touch with all of the various businesses and keep track of the deliveries and pickups. (I mentioned I have 2 teenage boys, right? They eat... a lot.)

Sam reports from Singapore:

The Covid-19 outbreak brings out the best and worst in all of us. Singapore's well-documented response to the pandemic is mostly positively referenced. However, in the last few days, we are entering a new phase that lays bare fundamental problems in this society, in particular our structural reliance on low-wage migrant labour and high income inequality. Like many others, I subscribe through WhatsApp to the health ministry's updates on Covid-19, and assiduously follow the news, and there has been a run of new daily highs in the number of cases, as infections in migrant workers' dormitories increase alarmingly. It was truly a disaster waiting to happen, and with more than 25,000 workers currently quarantined in their dormitories, not allowed to leave their rooms (typically occupied by 15-20 persons), cook, or in some cases receive deliveries, news started to emerge of unsanitary living conditions arising from over-crowding, and poor or late meals, even as the virus continues to spread amongst them, as there is no way that safe distancing can be properly observed under these circumstances. It is a shameful situation, and while the government has recognised that they need to move quickly on this, like many others, I hope that this will lead to, at the very least, permanent changes in migrant labour accommodation. And in the longer term, legislation that safeguards and gives more protection to these vulnerable communities.

Jérôme M. from Hong Kong:

Still no lock-down here (so far) but that's largely because most people have been practicing social distancing early, even before the government started taking official measures. The SARS outbreak of 2002-2003 is still on many people's minds, including frontline healthcare workers'. I think we're are 95-99% masking whenever going outside, which definitely helps -- though it also created some tensions between locals and some foreigners, some of whom insist on not wearing a mask. I was initially in the camp of 'yeah surgical masks don't protect you but I'll wear one anyway as a sign of courtesy' but evolved to 'OK I get it now, that is an effective public health policy' about a month ago. It's interesting how things can change quickly, to the point that I was feeling nervous last weekend on a short hike when walking past a few people who did not mask.

I'm fortunate that I can work from home without much disruption so from that perspective life hasn't changed much. What's been harder is the physical separation from my husband (who works in a hospital in Shanghai) due to the travel restrictions in place: if he comes to Hong Kong he's stuck in quarantine for 14 days and then again when he gets back to Shanghai. Ditto if I go to Shanghai (plus that would also put him in quarantine from the moment I get there). We'd been living across the two cities for close to 10 years now and this scenario never once crossed our minds (of course!). I've been FaceTiming with the family back in France a lot more, so there's that!

---

Thanks again to all those who wrote in. After reading these stories, I feel compelled to remind you that kottke.org's readership obviously is not a representative sample of humanity. Also, the folks who are most likely to write in are those with a bit of time & energy on their hands, not generally those who are overwhelmed while trying to work with small children at home 24/7, doing 16-hour shifts at the hospital, working at the grocery store 6 days a week, or finding themselves with limited internet access at home, which makes the site's unrepresentative readership even more unrepresentative. Just thought that was important to keep in mind.