The first time things started getting real for me during this Coronavirus pandemic was at the end of February. The pandemic had already started, though:
- 1/11 - First known death reported in China
- 1/20 - Confirmed cases in the US
- 1/30 - Global health emergency declared by WHO
- 1/31 - Travel from China to US restricted
- 2/11 - Officially named COVID-19
- 2/14 - First death in Europe
- 2/19 - Diamond Princess cruise ship starts letting passengers off after a 2 week quarantine
- 2/24 - $1.25 billion ask for coronavirus response in US
- 2/28 - Infections spike in Europe
On 2/27, we had an update from our CEO at Auth0 that it was time to take things seriously. Anxiety was in the air personally but things don’t ever really seem real until business is interrupted somehow. Several updates followed:
- 2/27 - CEO says it’s time to take it seriously. Work from home if you feel nervous or need to care for someone or have symptoms. Minimize non-essential travel.
- 2/27 - Travel guidelines go out that employees that work in or have visited level 1, 2 or 3 countries (defined by the CDC) should not travel, specifically for on-boarding. Hints at virtual training.
- 2/29 - CEO addresses the first death in the US from COVID-19. Stronger recommendation to work from home if you show symptoms or are uncomfortable.
From the NYT:
A person near Seattle has become the first coronavirus patient to die in the United States, health officials said Saturday. The person was a patient at a hospital [Life Care Center] in Kirkland, Washington.
We were planning for our monthly tech on-boarding in Bellevue and there was some inkling that the class might be cancelled. All the right people seemed unconcerned so we went ahead with it. There was an air of anxiety, though. This is a conversation between our office manger and myself 3/1/2020:
This, however, was going to be many people coming together having travelled from all over the world. At this point, a big part of me felt like it was scary and irresponsible to go ahead with it. Another part, though, really didn’t want this to be a thing. One of our trainers had recently travelled to Japan and was asked to self-quarantine. He trained virtually.
In the office, things seemed generally fine on Wednesday. Our office manager did not seem to concerned but there were a number of hand sanitizer bottles out (our last ones) and she was attacking everything with Lysol. I mentioned at the beginning of the class to avoid contact and we all implicitly agreed not to shake hands. No one seemed scared but there was a heavy air of anxiety since we were so close to the center of the outbreak in the US.
As the class proceeded, though, things got appreciably scarier:
- 3/5 - Death toll in WA reaches 11 (10 in King County), total known cases at 70
- 3/5 - CEO update pointing to other companies who are urging working from home. People with a higher risk should stay away from groups. Ends with “work from home until 3/13”
- 3/6 - Comicon postponed, UW cancels classes
- 3/6 - CEO announces that our annual offsite is cancelled
I took this photo at the ferry dock in Seattle on the way back from my Bellevue training class, on the afternoon of 3/6. This was the last time I was on a ferry.
Things would progress soon after:
- 3/7 - St. Patrick’s Day parade canceled
- 3/9 - Death toll in WA reaches 22
- 3/9 - Stocks plunged 7% on Wall Street, triggering a 15-minute trading halt. It was the Dow’s worst day since the 2008 recession
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