Post 4: #Coronavirus and a Global Perspective

Tonight we feature Dublin, Ireland, and Falls Church, VA, USA, in addition to our “regular” Beirut, Lebanon and Malaga, Spain updates.

Aliens 2020

Received via WhatsApp. No idea who created this hilarious cartoon. 

 @RafifJ in Malaga, Spain

Day 4 of lockdown.

Spain’s death toll has almost reached the 500 mark and we have gone over 11,000 confirmed cases. You know that forced-calm, controlled-panic in people’s voices? It’s getting more pronounced as we continue to hear more bad news. As my friend Jean-Claude said, “We are the cast in a living horror movie.”

I have very little to report about Malaga today since I haven’t been out. But I’ve gotten some new work (!!!) and other highlights have been several online meetings and messaging with friends & colleagues.

Even as we learn to socially isolate, we are getting closer. We are texting, messaging, Skyping, and WhatsApping a lot more. In my view, that means connecting and writing, and learning who our real friends are. That means love

It’s comforting to me to think that, ultimately, we are all connected – whether it’s over social media or because of a common fear. Here in Malaga, we connect over our balconies and through our windows. During these scary – boring – difficult – unsure – confusing times, we are somehow laughing together.

I can’t wait for clapping time!


RJD in Beirut, Lebanon

To all my fellow freaked-out OCDs worried about #Corona, good day.

Today, I focused ALL my pent-up energies on building hygiene and sanitation in our building, and here is what I sent our neighbours (we are an 11-floor building):

Hope you are weathering the Corona epidemic safely wherever you are. We want to keep everyone safe and as such we have taken the following measures:

  1. I purchased an air cleaner that is in the lobby near the plant. The filter needs to be changed every 20 days. Unfortunately, each time we have an electrical cut, the cleaner disconnects, so if you find it switched off, please switch it on!
  2. I placed an alcohol hand sanitizer also in the lobby for those who wish to disinfect.
  3. In the elevator, I placed Lysol wipes and a trash bag. I will change the trash bag several times a day. The Lysol wipe is to clean the keypad, open the door and anything else you feel you need to use it for!
  4. Our concierge has been instructed to air out the small elevator every 2 hours and sanitize all door handles, keypads and the lobby, also every 2 hours.
  5. We will lock the generator parking door, as well as all other building doors, with keys. We will provide the concierge with a doorbell that anyone wishing to enter the building will use to ring. If you have deliveries, kindly go down and receive the delivery yourself. If you are receiving a worker/supplier at home (e.g.., water, gas), please ask them to use the large elevator and not the small one.
  6. The small elevator is to be used only by building residents and will be decontaminated several times a day.
  7. Our concierge has been instructed to not leave the building until March 29 and to ensure his family applies the same. He is also not to receive guests during this time.

I feel like I am running a police state, but safety first people!


Marese in Dublin, Ireland, on St. Patrick’s Day

In #Ireland schools and public buildings closed last Thursday. Kids are taken out to open spaces but not playing out. Playgrounds are closed.

Pubs closed last night- mostly because of the eejits who kept going to them. The St Patrick’s Day parades are all cancelled.

Some people are being thoughtless and not social distancing but most are responding in a great civic spirit of solidarity. Supermarkets are setting aside the first 2 hours of the day for older people.

A fund-raiser to feed frontline medical staff with a target of 250 Euros passed 50,000 a while ago.

The number of cases is still below 200 – but people in Northern Ireland, under UK guidelines, are far less restricted and putting us all at risk. So far the social distancing is slowing the spread – but the next week will really show if the strategy is working.


Roula in Falls Church, VA

Corona Confusion

After telling us on Thursday night that the schools will remain open, we woke up Friday to a different story. My 10-year-old son was to stay back. We were also told that on Monday (yesterday) we should go by the school and pick up assignments from teachers. Then we got another message from the school district telling us not to bother. A few schools have remained open, but only for breakfast and lunch distribution to students who need it. Kudos!

Yesterday, we had an appointment for my son’s US passport application, so we got out early to catch a yoga class. The young postman processing our documents asked me if I wanted to pay an extra fee for expedited service.  Seriously? Where the hell does he think we’re going in the next few weeks? “Nah, take your time…”

We finished that and went on our way. The traffic was uncharacteristically light, but there was still a good buzz. At the yoga studio, the two of us were the only ones attending the class! That was fun, albeit in a weird way. My son practiced in the back of the studio, and I in the front. The room, emptied of all blocks, blankets, straps, towels, and people, echoed so badly I could hardly hear the instructor. As we were leaving, I got a text message that the yoga studio will close indefinitely as of tomorrow. Things are getting more serious.

On we went to Shirlington Village for our last hurrah before the restaurants shut down. We easily found a place to park in the usually impossibly jammed parking lot. We strolled through the very quiet streets and made our way to Busboys and Poets. There were perhaps 6 patrons, including us, in that normally packed place. My son was actually able to play with his ball inside the restaurant as we had the whole back lounge to ourselves. After a good meal and in the spirit of the postman, I asked the waitress to bring me the check “when she wasn’t too busy.” She said that was the funniest thing she heard all day. I left her a big tip, wondering if she will have a job tomorrow.

Next stop, Wholefoods Market for a couple of roasted chickens. Again, I easily found parking in an otherwise insanely packed parking lot that usually has at least two attendants directing traffic. But once we got inside, everything seemed normal. I guess people are done hoarding because the store seemed pretty well stocked. I didn’t stock up on too much last week because my aunt in Italy assured me that “lockdown” will still allow essential trips for food, medicine, etc. She also said that the supplies should be plenty, although people might have to wait outside while a limited 10 shoppers at a time are allowed inside.

I have a pretty good idea of what lies ahead because of my good friends and relatives in Italy, France, Spain, and Lebanon, who are going through it now.

Lockdown will be frustrating, but I know that good will come out of it. At the very least, it will unlock creativity, compassion, and hopefully, better us as a human race.

I also hope that lockdown will expose and put on notice everything and everyone that is wrong with our country. This just might be our blessing in disguise. The shit was very close to the fan before all this happened, no? Inward and onward…


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