San Francisco US 5-6-2020

Quarantine life according to this resident of San Francisco:

“My name is Guido, I live in San Francisco.

My city feels weird these days. On one hand, yes, stores are closed, streets a lot emptier than usual. On the other hand, there are still hundreds, thousands of homeless people on the streets, living in tents, across different neighborhood, keeping zero social distancing. Our authorities acted swiftly and they shut down the city early enough that we have avoided the worst of the pandemic, we have under 30 dead people. But I can’t help but wonder how much will our luck last. It’s a terribly difficult problem, because even if many homeless people were put in hotels and shelters, more keep arriving to the city, and understandably, it is not possible to absorb them all. San Francisco can’t do it alone, and even California can’t. So, we may run out of luck, we are certainly testing the limits of it.

Despite the homeless issue, I am very happy to live here. We are very fortunate to live in a place where the authorities listen to the experts and guide their actions based on evidence. It’s a tough situation, because we are still learning a lot about the coronavirus and the course of action changes, there are no certainties. Seeing the situation in other states and cities, we are maybe in the best place in the US concerning pandemic response. We might have dodged the bullet, however, we can’t lower our guard.

At a personal level, I am doing surprisingly well. I have been thinking about why.

I was fired a month ago, and I am collecting unemployment and looking for a new job. I should be panicking and stressed, but I remain calm and serene. In a way, I have been steeling myself for a time like this for many years. I used to have a biotech company that tried to develop low cost, portable tests for infectious diseases. I have been thinking about pandemics and outbreaks for many years. I have studied infectious disease and seen, understood in depth, how terrible they can be, and I can see in perspective, that while the coronavirus is terrible, things could be much, much, much worse.

I am also Venezuelan, and I have struggled with depression and anxiety for many years. I realize that I have developed ways of not ignoring or denying the horror of reality while at the same time not letting that horror disturb my well being, as I need to remain sane and functional to react effectively to the horror. Venezuela taught me how. I still do not understand it at an intellectual level, but I remain mostly calm, other than my obvious concern about the moron we have in the white house.

Finally, I am married to Tom, a wonderful man who makes me very happy and is my rock, my pride and my joy. Not being alone has helped, very likely, and together we keep each other cheerful and we enjoy working out at home (I have lost weight since this started!) and watching science fiction TV shows. We also go out for long walks, masked and keeping away from people. Despite the silly complaints of many about being imprisoned and the loss of civil rights, you can go out and be careful, stay healthy, take precautions and no one will stop you, ask for papers or tell you to go home. We go out masked and stay away from others. This is a free country and we enjoy our freedom while still doing our part to stop or delay the spread of the virus.

I am optimistic about the future of humanity, of the US and about my personal future. This crisis might have given us the jolt we needed to get our act together. I am certain I will get a better job, keep learning, and I already published a CoVid-19 related paper that I wrote on my spare time. There is a better future ahead of us, but we need to be alive to make it happen.”