My Life in LA County During COVID-19: March 21

Harry Keller 80By Harry Keller
Former ETCJ Science Editor
& President of SmartScience

Gov. Newsom: “Roughly 56% of our state’s population…will be infected.”1

Mar 21, 2020 at 8:34 AM: I don’t go out much with things as they are. Our governor has declared that everyone must stay in. Well, I just did some tidying of our yard. Does that count?

My few outings earlier were like the Twilight Zone. The traffic was almost nonexistent compared to usual. It’s a strange feeling that harks back to the days when I grew up here beginning in 1945. The flip side is that the streets, always congested with cars parked by insensitive neighbors (maybe more lazy than insensitive) have more cars parked than ever and have suddenly become playgrounds for children who are not in school. Consider that the parked cars make it more likely than ever for a driver not to see that child.

I rent at rates not changed significantly for ten years (good landlords) in a neighborhood with multi-million-dollar houses (no — mansions) everywhere as the old beach cottages that used to define this town are torn down and replaced with monstrosities. The cottages had front and back yards, but the monstrosities have only the zoning setbacks — to the fraction of an inch! So, people buy big, expensive houses and have no place for their children to play outdoors. They also seem to have no storage in these houses because a great many of them have no room left in their garages for their cars. 

When I was growing up, cars parked all over the street were the sign of a poor neighborhood. They could not afford garages or had so many people living in each home that the cars had no other place to park.

COVID-19 has emptied our major traffic arteries of automobiles and has turned our streets into (unsafe) playgrounds.

I have some good news. At least five local markets have instituted senior hours before they open to the general public. Seniors have a less congested, safer shopping experience with the added advantage of having first crack at the shelves that have been stocked overnight. Trader Joe’s is not among these. I will be shopping at the others. I can walk to a local supermarket that is open 24/7 ordinarily but has shortened its hours, closing at 8 pm. It now has senior hours beginning at 7:30 am. I don’t have to make this trip soon but will certainly choose them over the more distant and unfriendly (regarding policies — their employees may be the friendliest in the business) Trader Joe’s. I still have not received a reply to my note about their policies.

Seniors have a less congested, safer shopping experience with the added advantage of having first crack at the shelves that have been stocked overnight.

Right now, I am concerned regarding how long this crisis will last. If we really had no contact at all with the virus anymore, it would play itself out in a few weeks. Instead, we are being told to plan for 3-5 months. This is just wrong. My modest IRA has been devastated, but my business income and Social Security remain in place so that I will be okay financially. I really feel for the millions who are not so well provided for. Retirement accounts are being destroyed. I hope that stocks come back before end of the year when my IRA’s MRD (minimum required distribution) must be extracted.

Fortunately, I have been working from home for 20 years. Sheltering in place does not place a large burden on me. What about everyone else?

1 Faith Karimi and Sarah Moon, “California orders its nearly 40 million residents to stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” CNN, 20 March 2020.

One Response

  1. Harry, that’s my concern, too. It looks as though we’re in for a long haul. Re foods, bulk oatmeal is a good basic. A bit of hot water and less than a minute in the microwave creates a meal. Sprinkle some dried fruits over it (I like dried cherries) for flavor. A small bowl is filling. A small amount will expand to fill the bowl.

    I hope your son isn’t being detained in an isolation facility.

    I also hope the children in the streets won’t be spreading/catching the virus.

    One of my daughter’s coworkers tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from a trip to Las Vegas. Since she’s had contact with him, she’s had to undergo testing.

    Take care. -Jim

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