On Monday, March 16, I went to Robinsons bright and early. Very few people were there, and the store was well stocked – especially with meat and fish – and I bought groceries for maybe ten days or a bit longer and went home. I had to go back in the afternoon to buy our prescription drugs, as the main part of the mall hadn’t been opened earlier. There I felt crowded and almost endangered, although many people wore masks. After that, I felt more determined to avoid crowds.

Later that day I heard Robs was closed to seniors, although this wasn’t confirmed. The day after that we were locked down and urgently told to stay home.

From the beginning, there has been a great deal of concern for elders, and for people with underlying health conditions, very often the same people. But now that has become somewhat qualified as more younger people get infected and even die. The doctor who was the original whistleblower in China died of the disease – and many other health workers followed. And now we hear that it can be serious even for children.

Still, from the beaches of Florida, we see crowds of American college kids on spring break, saying things like “If I get it, I get it. I’m certainly not going to let it control my life!”

This is partly due to the lightness and denial with which some American officials treated it for too long. Maybe among younger people, there is too much reliance on the idea that seniors would get it first.

I’ve been at home since my two trips to Robinson’s so I don’t know but I think that at least in Palawan people are paying a bit more attention to the rules. I may be very wrong about this. And as has been pointed out, there are many people who simply don’t have houses and space in which to retreat: people who can’t store food and have to make this a daily struggle, people who cannot avoid crowds.

There are seniors I worry about more than I would worry about myself – just based on risk factors. My husband. The biggest reason for me to be careful is to keep him unexposed.

A couple of friends – whom I can no longer go and visit. But it’s wonderful to have someone who will shop for you, sort of a designated household shopper as it were. Or a friend who will offer to pick up a pineapple and leave it on her terrace for me to pick up with no contact. But do remember that many seniors don’t have anyone who can do this for them, and if you can fill this gap, step up and do so!

I have had a feeling all along that this was some kind of pestilence because of the way we have treated the world, the environment, and each other. I’m certainly not going to say this is the wrath of God but it does kind of feel like our world, our earth, has simply had it with us and needs us to step back a bit. I don’t know what we are all going to learn from this experience, but I certainly hope we will all learn something. Here in Puerto, we might reconsider having such a tourist-based economy. The whole of the Philippines (and the U.S. I might add) might look to ways to provide better infrastructure for public health, and ways especially to provide good health services to the poor.

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