Tuesday, our daughter, Eva, told us that she was low on disinfectants and couldn’t buy any.
She has stage-4 cancer, which makes her about as fragile to coronavirus as one can be. She lives in Eatonville, Wash.
So, Ruth and I traipsed around Pullman and Moscow looking for hand sanitizer and cleaners to help keep Eva safe.
We did well on a variety of cleaners, but came a cropper on hand sanitizer.
Thursday, Eva’s 53rd birthday, we hopped into our Equinox and sped into the maw of Washington’s epicenter of growing pandemic to deliver the few cleaning supplies.
Much of our 6-hour drive (with stops) was devoted to listening to CNN’s fearsome audio pandemic reports on Sirius Internet Radio.
News of the rising pandemic was daunting, even for “Daddy Rescue,” aka “Opa Rescue.”
Not one to scare easily — if at all — I began to question my sanity going under such circumstances where three snowflakes make a storm and freeways often become miles-long parking lots.
Heaven only knows the grim potential of the Seattle megalopolis to become a cauldron of threats to this 82-year-old citizen with health issues that put him in special danger of nasty viruses.
Our first taste of the pandemic’s effect on urban citizens came when we checked into Eatonville’s only lodging for travelers.
There, the clerk noted that already they were receiving cancellations.
Of course, Seattle media were pantingly bemoaning vacant store shelves. Television, which we watched Thursday evening in our motel room, eagerly and redundantly showed video of empty isles.
It was enough to disquiet our stomachs and nerves after Eva’s wonderful birthday supper.
Before heading home, we went across the street to the Plaza Market grocery and bought a few grocery items for Eva’s larder. Eatonville being out in the country, a few miles south of the pandemic epicenter, was just starting to experience panicked shoppers.
No hand cleaner was available, but most other things were still in stock. Items popular with panicked citizens, like toilet paper, were in short supply, and soon would be out-of-stock.
Having the misfortune of what turned out to be a minor problem with our Equinox, I spent the afternoon in the waiting room at Chevrolet of Puyallup while the problem was diagnosed.
As I sat reading a book, an employee came in with sanitizing materials and cleaned all of the touchable surfaces, including wiping down all of the overstuffed chairs.
Our son-in-law was home during our brief visit because Boeing shut down the factory where he works. This announcement surely added to the panicked shopping by thousands of families.
Eatonville schools were closed for six weeks, a great disappointment to our 15-year-old grandson who will miss track season this year.
COVID-9 poses ugly medical decisions.
With inadequate hospital beds for the seriously ill, doctors may have to decide whether to treat a person with stage-4 cancer, or give the bed to a virus patient.
Indeed, might physicians have to decide whether to treat an 82-year-old patient or a 60-year-old one?
Our impression is that the largest fear isn’t the coronavirus itself, but the economic and social consequences of measures being taken to combat it.
Terence L. Day is a retired Washington State University faculty member, and a 47-year Pullman resident. Readers are invited to email him at email@example.com.