"We Are In This Together": 9 Individuals Share Their Self-Quarantine Experience Amidst The Coronavirus Pandemic

These are exceptional times with no certainty but one—they will be etched in our minds for years to come. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is not something we could have ever imagined but now, it's here and the best we can do to cope with the crisis is stay indoors, as experts are repeatedly suggesting. In a time when millions are in self-quarantine to prevent further transmission, it seemed only logical that we reach out to people across the world to know what they are going through. From New York and Seattle to Milan, Nuremberg, Oslo and numerous cities, here are 9 individual accounts of people recounting their situation amidst the raging pandemic. 

"The supermarket's parking lot looks apocalyptic these days."

"When my manager told me the first time that we might have to work from home for the next 3 weeks, I did not believe them. But then it happened. I had the essentials at home so the first week wasn’t that bad, but the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic started sinking in when I realized I hadn’t seen the sun in 8 days, including the bad weather over the weekend.

It goes without saying that being at home all the time can take a toll. I took a chance on the ninth day and stepped out for groceries in the evening. The supermarket's parking lot looks apocalyptic these days. The day I visited, there were hardly any people and inside the store, a number of aisles were empty. There were no eggs. But then an employee came and restocked so I was lucky to get a carton (18 eggs) and some whole milk. Everything is numbered; I am worried about running out of food and I hope this crisis ends soon. 

Cold winds can be seen making their way over from the mountains. It feels like winter has returned. For the last 3 days, my two flatmates haven’t come home. One is in Seattle I think, if not quarantined at an airport and the other is spending time with family up north. I am more scared about the one in Seattle—Washington state is under emergency. As of 17th March, we received an alert suggesting to stay indoors and go out only if absolutely necessary. Who knows what's next."

-Vyanktesh Kanungo
San Jose, California
Image Courtesy: Vyanktesh Kanungo
Image Courtesy: Vyanktesh Kanungo

"Humans need to understand that we need to support each other to survive."

"Well, to begin with, I did stock up well with groceries and the basic necessities but the issue is with people hoarding stuff. I am worried things will be out of stock. Right before my self-quarantine started, I visited the supermarket and saw people hoarding rolls of toilet paper in their carts. The queue was so long (even at the self-check-in counters) that I gave up. To be honest, I hadn’t taken things seriously back then. 

On the last day of not being in quarantine, I dropped by again to pick up things and there was barely anything available. The dry vegetable sections were empty, canned foods were gone, people were not sparing drinking water crates either. The Indian stores nearby were out of stock as well. We (my husband and I) got back home at 2 that morning after managing to shop at the north side of the city. Humans need to understand that we need to support each other to survive. I’m more worried about the elderly who cannot stock up. While it still isn’t deserted, the traffic has gone down to an extent. I see a lesser number of cars from the balcony.

Tomorrow I have to step out again because I feel that I have developed some symptoms. I fixed an appointment with my doctor for the regular fever that I have and they directed me to a pop-up clinic where I can get myself screened and tested. The fee to get tested at a private medical unit seems to be on the higher side especially when I think of a homeless guy who is out on the streets. Majority of the residents here aren’t medically insured and the expenses are high. Even if a person thinks of getting themself tested with the slightest symptoms, they might refrain from getting it done thinking of the aftermath."

-Azkia Aarif
Austin, Texas

Image Courtesy:  Unsplash
Image Courtesy: Unsplash

"I've sent a message to several medical institutions to hear if they need any additional staff."

"I hadn't been quarantined completely until today (19th March), so I have little experience with it as of now. 
The neighbourhood I live in is a bit outside of Oslo, so I am lucky that I can go for a walk with my dog without meeting too many people. Right now, the government is trying to get some control over the situation, and I think they have been right in asking people to quarantine and isolate. I am now focused on trying to form some sort of routine when it comes to my daily life— I will try not to go to bed too late and make something out of my days. Hopefully, I will get creative and make costumes, new concepts for theatre or draw something! I have also sent a message to several medical institutions to hear if they need any additional staff, but I haven't got a reply yet. I guess they are trying to get a hold of the whole situation right now, like everyone else."

-Mary Ann Skretteberg Andersen
Oslo, Norway

"The city that never sleeps has paused."

"I am based out of New York and there has been a major lockdown in the city for over a week, with almost everything shut down in the last 4 or 5 days. I recently moved to full-time freelancing and have been working remotely for the last 3 months, so staying indoors or working from home doesn’t bother me much, but it’s still one thing to be at home for a while and another to not be able to step out entirely. Apart from work, I’ve been more regular in practising yoga, having a better sleep pattern, eating simple, home-cooked meals and using the time to reflect and create for myself. Of course, there’s also connecting with friends and family over the phone and binge-watching!

What does intrigue me, however, is how the city that never sleeps has actually paused."

New York

Image Courtesy: Twitter
Image Courtesy: Twitter

"May we emerge from this. "

"I knew that in Italy, it would be messy because at first, nobody seemed to care about the virus and its spread in other people. When the government announced a lockdown of an area and further of the entire country, I felt panicked and depressed; this is a scary time. However, I am trying my best to be positive and keep myself busy indoors by reading books, watching movies, doing some home training and trying to cook. I am trying to look at this time that I get to spend with myself in a positive light but the truth remains that the situation here is far from great. May we emerge from this."  

-HyeYeon Park
Milan, Italy

"This is the time to be intelligent."

"I am based out of Germany and the situation is worsening here—people are being asked to self-quarantine and isolate and a lockdown seems probable in the foreseeable future. Essential commodities are available for now, except masks, sanitizers and toilet paper. A few weeks back, when I was still going to work, people returning from trips to China and Italy casually walked back into the office. There were no screenings at all back then and those returning from overseas were expected to self-quarantine. Germany is right behind the curve from Italy; I really hope people take precautions and don’t take this lightly. More than the recession which will hit us hard, I am worried about the rising toll, the staggering numbers. Whatever I have been reading seems unbelievable. More than ever, this is the time to be careful and intelligent."

Nuremberg, Germany

Image Courtesy: Simantiny Roy
Image Courtesy: Simantiny Roy

"We are in this together."

"My husband and I have been on house arrest for over two weeks now. We live in Washington, the epicentre of the US outbreak. While he is working from home, my nature of work doesn’t allow me to do the same, meaning I had to take an indefinite leave from my workplace. Not an easy thing to do but I don’t see how else I can keep myself and people around me safe. To get hand sanitizers, soap and toilet paper, we had to travel to nearby cities because the stores here have all run out of them. Most of the essentials were gone in the beginning of March. Everything escalated over the weekend of February 29th when the initial cases were confirmed, and things haven’t changed much since. 

Last weekend, after being at home for a stretch of two weeks, we thought that maybe it was harmless to go out for a hike, assuming the trails would all be empty but to our surprise, it was completely packed. I’m assuming everyone out there had the same thought process like ours, without realising how gravely we were risking our lives and those of others. I’m sharing this so that everyone can learn from that mistake, no matter how harmless we thought it to be. Avoid going out as much as you can. No place is safe at the moment. I am constantly on my phone reading everything I can about the situation worldwide, hoping that I would come across articles that would be of some help. I have my family back in India and I am scared for them too. It’s not possible for everyone to stay at home and that’s understandable, but for people who can, PLEASE stay indoors. Self-isolation is the best way to prevent the spread and its high time we understand this and also help others in understanding this. We are in this together!"  

-Simantiny Roy
Redmond, Washington 

Image Courtesy: Shristi Kapoor
Image Courtesy: Shristi Kapoor

"At least I haven’t texted my ex!"

"Although the panic of the ‘mighty' Coronavirus only entered Ahmedabad about five-six days ago, we’ve been in self-quarantine since Holi. All my friends were busy mingling at each other’s houses, so I felt the FOMO hitting harder than I usually do. The entire idea of social distancing did feel like we were being paranoid for no reason but three days in and a lot of reading later, it felt like a very responsible decision, also considering the fact that I live with my grandparents. 

The first few days were rather difficult; since it was a mandate, it felt like a chore.  Add to that some people terming these precautions as 'paranoid'—that angered me the most. While my thoughts kept taking me back to every dystopian movie I’ve ever seen and hoping Meredith Grey [a character from Grey's Anatomy] was real enough to solve this problem, there was a rise in anxiety mostly due to the news that was broadcasted and played at home 24/7. I recently moved back to my hometown after staying away for about 5 years, so my frustration erupted like a volcano and took my mental health for a crazy marathon. 

About eleven days in, I feel I’m at a better place as we’ve decided to keep ourselves busy by watching old movies and indulging in games. The only thing that keeps me anxious is the news round the clock and how suddenly all our conversations revolve around COVID-19. Overthinking was a part-time hobby that has become a permanent guest in my head. On the brighter side, at least I still haven’t texted my ex!"

-Shristi Kapoor
Ahmedabad, India

"Everything has come to a halt.”

“A lot has changed drastically over the last weekend. I’m an elementary school teacher in New York City and just up until last week, the mayor was not in favour of closing public schools because it would cause other problems. Many children don’t have anyone to take care of them when their parents are at work and for many living in poverty, the only meals they eat are at school. However, because of pressure from unions and the fear of the spread, the decision was made that public schools will be closed for 5 weeks until spring break, with further notices. This has affected me greatly and altered my whole life and schedule. I used to wake up at 5:30 am every morning to go to work but suddenly don’t have to wake up by a certain time anymore. Besides this, I am also a full-time college student graduating this semester, and this is posing a lot of problems for me. It’s an especially important semester and there was a lot to get done but now everything has come to a halt.”

-Alice Kim
New York

Featured Image: Unsplash

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