I wouldn’t consider myself a germaphobe or a panicker, but I am unnerved.

As I begrudgingly pumped away on the elliptical at the gym today, I watched a news update (already makin’ great choices). The info banner at the bottom said that 870+ cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the US. By the time I was done with my workout 20 minutes later (yes, only 20 minutes, IT WASN’T MAKING ME FEEL BETTER, OKAY?!) the number went up to 900+.

I will point out here that I just clicked on the CDC website and their number is only 647 so I’m not sure who to believe. (Maybe Billy at NBC was just changing the numbers for the fun of it. Worst intern ever!)

Boston area universities are currently on Spring Break, but Harvard just announced that they do not want students returning, and that starting next week, classes will be taught online. I expect that Boston University will follow suite soon. In my office of Marketing and Communications, we have already been told to prepare to work from home. A few of my friends have cancelled upcoming trips to stay on the safe side, and a major conference for the Council on the Advancement and Support for Education (CASE) was just canceled.

The Alternative Spring Break trips, which had students from BU traveling the US for various volunteer assignments were canceled.

I was supposed to have a date tonight but he messaged me last night to let me know that “a few employees in the company tested positive for COVID-19 & we have all been advised to self-quarantine and/or work from home for the next 2 weeks”. He then used the word “whilst” un-ironically, so he may be too uppity for me to date when he’s out of quarantine anyway.

Just kidding.

The grownups in my building are being cautious, often opening the doors with their hip so they don’t touch the handles, using the hand-sanitizer stations throughout the building, and not shaking hands. When I am out on campus come to and from assignments, I do these things as well.

I’m being excessive about it. Avoiding doorknobs, jamming my hands in my pockets so I don’t touch my face, using purell that I’m carrying around with me. When I get into my car I have a little bottle of 409 to wipe down my steering wheel (though I’ve only done that once. I’m not completely nuts!).

Meanwhile, I see students who have stayed on campus putting their hands all over the doors and handles, hugging each other, holding hands, and I just want to screem DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT COULD BE ON THAT DOOR HANDLE RIGHT NOW? and STOP BEING SUCH A CLOSE TALKER!

I go to the grocery store and I don’t want to touch anything. I punch in my PIN and then I pause wait, now what do I do with that finger that just touched all the germs that are probably on that touchpad?

I follow a few BU Facebook pages, and today quite a few calls for petition signing have popped up. One starts by stating STOP THE FEAR MONGERING AND TELL PREZ BROWN YOU WANT CAMPUS TO REMAIN OPEN

I couldn’t help it. I had to comment, and I started by quoting one of the “requirements/promises” of the petition ;
” 1.Students who self-quarantine due to CDC-recommend factors will be excused for their absences from classes and on-campus jobs. They will also be excused indefinitely if they contract the virus and need to quarantine themselves while they fight the infection.” And what about their roommates who have been in contact with them and are now leaving the dorm/apt? And the student who became ill? They’ve already touched countless campus handles and doorknobs and left their germs before coming down with symptoms. Not to mention – who wants to admit they may have it? I don’t trust that students, because of the stigma around it, won’t ignore their subtle symptoms and go to class anyway. Perhaps it’s more about keeping people at risk safe – your classmates with compromised immune systems, your professors who may go home and care for their elderly parents. It’s just a thought that maybe the steps being taken aren’t about you specifically.

I was way nicer than some of the other commenters. Another student posted their petition; “If you think it should be our CHOICE to leave housing we already paid for please sign my petition and pass it around. Let’s show BU admin that we care about our tuition and money they’ve likely already spent and don’t plan on giving us back.”

“They’ve likely already spent” Oh, children. They’re so funny and they always understand how things work.

My snark aside, I cannot fathom the stress of this situation for a student paying their own way and preparing for the inevitable drowning in debt that will come following graduation. It’s got to be scary even without a pandemic.

This is not an ideal situation. Online classes will not work for students who need to be in labs for their majors like chemistry or physics, or for the students who need to be making art at the College of Fine Arts. There is a possibility that commencement won’t happen. I’m sure there are countless experiments that need observing regularly. And theater productions that are part of curriculum. There are international students on campus, and they will need to be accommodated for should BU go online completely and tell students to not come back to campus.

There are students currently on campus because they couldn’t afford to go on a trip for the break, and also can’t afford to go home if they are told they have to.

It’s going to be very interesting to see how its all handled. None of it ideal, I’m sure.

And I’m not going to lie, I did go online to see if I could order more insulin. Nope. Too soon. I am not concerned about this. Not really. But an eentsy-weentsy bit of me is like, what if I can’t get that drug that keeps me alive? Or worse, what if I somehow become a carrier and then give it to my parents?

One thing I know for sure, this is something that has never happened in Boston, and I plan to tell the story with photos. I mean, christ, I need something to do! So, if next week we are informed that we are to work remotely, I will go to campus, assuming it’s not an unsafe thing to do, and record the empty buildings, the international students, the essential employees like the dining hall workers and facilities teams. The BU Police Department. I’m wondering how athletic teams are dealing. Will they send all their athletes home?

I mean I could go on, but I’ll stop.

If you’ll excuse me, I have to go wash my hands again so I can continue biting my nails.

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