two birds social distancing by Tery Spataro

Living in a COVID-19 World

I first learned about the coronavirus in January. I became conscious and curious but not focused after hearing this news report on January 31, 2020. The news reported Chicago as the first US case of person to person transmission of the coronavirus and went on to discuss matters in Wuhuan. China’s first case was December 1, 2019. Since then the COVID-19 has spread to all states, districts, and territories and on a global level. We have been asked to social distance or self-isolate if we suspect we are infected. This request is a reasonable approach to flattening the curve. Like myself and many of us go through an acceptance process when dealing with this very hard to grasp the situation caused by an invisible entity.


I didn’t think anything of the news reports from January through early March at that time because geographically, coronavirus was so far away. Not wanting to alarm, my mother, who is in her 80’s and lives with me, I didn’t mention outbreaks in China. My mother has an autoimmune disease, Takayasu arteritis, which leaves her vulnerable to the flu and other diseases. We have much experience with practicing social distancing during flu season.

Looking back at my calendar, I realized I was in NYC in December and again late February through early March as well as Connecticut. I attended business meetings, social gatherings, and visited family and friends during these travel periods. Since December 2019, I began to make business inroads to my local community. I was excited about connecting and becoming an active member of the business community. I attended several functions in Jacksonville. It felt thrilling to connect with my community – techies, creatives, innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs. My last corporate job was very constricting, traditional, and demanding, making it impossible to have time for myself, let alone connect with my local community.

On March 9, things changed for my small eco-system, and for my community, Governor DeSantis signed Florida’s state of emergency because of COVID-19. I told my mother we need to be careful because this virus knows no boundaries. She was looking forward to traveling to Connecticut in the spring to visit her family.

Two days later, March 11, 2020, the areas I live in Duval & St Johns reported the first cases of COVID-19.

Social distancing is the practice of staying, keeping away from people to stay healthy, and loved ones safe from the COVID-19 spread. I take this course of action seriously during this uncertain time. My mother’s last time out of the house was March 12, when she went to the grocery store with me to do our weekly shopping. Then, there was food on the shelves, but disinfectants and toilet paper were scarce. My mother is a genius, and she invented necessity stocking – over the past couple of years we never ran out of toilet paper, she has been buying on online in bulk for several years.


Limiting purchases by Tery SpataroA week ago seems like months ago living in the COVID-19 world. I went to the grocery store on Tuesday, March 16, I was shocked, not surprised by the bare shelves. There were notifications throughout the store stating limits on items and new store closing time for 8 pm. The store was uncrowded, but people were keeping their distance. I spoke to several customers. Each had their only stories about shortages and opinions on COVID-19. The prevailing emotion was fear and uncertainty. One older adult I spoke too had tears in his eyes. He couldn’t understand why people were panicking. He only wanted to buy a jar of mayonnaise, but the shelf was wiped clean. We speculated about why mayonnaise and concluded because the kids were at home. Maybe parents were making sandwiches. We both felt relieved with mayonnaise and kid’s sandwich theory.

Wednesday, March 18, the Toastmasters group I’m a member of gave Zoom a try. Our group is generationally diverse. Zoom worked great. We felt this is an excellent way of keeping the meetings, staying in touch, and practicing speeches. The added value is learning how to present online.

Yesterday, I used Zoom to connect with Gary and Ashley, from Sleeping Giant, about the projects in process. We discussed ways of using Zoom to conduct qualitative research. We worked out scenarios to pushing the limitings of Zoom and testing all of the components included. I’m glad I purchased the license.

After the meeting, I took my mother for a ride, she never left the car. I drove for about a half-hour and we went home.

Throughout this week, I checked in with friends across the US, UK, Italy, Spain, and China. Each is trying to figure out how to cope, be resilient, and remain calm during these uncertain times dealing with an entity that defies our senses.

We are living in uncertain and fearful times. Still, even though social distancing and self-isolating keep us apart, we should remain together in spirit and help each other through this. Use the phone, text, social media, video like Skype, Facetime, Zoom, email, keep the Virtual Connection!