We are going to be OK.

This 'vibe' definitely is strange.

The energy in the air, the brooding of the people out in public.

I recall the last time I felt this type of energy in public.

It was the morning of November 9th, 2016. The day the nation found out that Donald J Trump was going to be our President.

It was wild. My morning commute that day was on the train. All the faces around me were  turned down, crestfallen. Some people appeared to be in shock, some were openly weeping. There were no smiles, no laughter.

Today, there was a strong sense of deja vu taking me back to that day.

Too quiet at Marina City, The House of Blues

As I went about my day- A meeting at 8, another at 10:30, visiting with my team for a few hours, talked to one customer, then wrapped up and headed for home around 3:30- at that time, our bustling, metropolitan city of Chicago was as close to being a Ghost town as I have seen, and closer than I ever care to see again.

Grand Avenue and State Street, normally filled with people

The normally gridlocked streets of downtown were eerily calm, quiet. and nearly empty of traffic.

Nordstrom's Michigan Avenue, facing north, March 12th, 2020, 4:06pm

Yesterday, March 11th, may be remembered as the day that a large number of our opinions regarding the coronavirus 'took a turn.'

Waking up to new announcements of several new cases, fatalities, closings and cancellations, there seemed to be no more doubts to the world that, this is serious.

And it is.
But please, do not panic.

I want to stress that we will get through this. The media is what it is, and whatever reach this virus has, is yet to be determined.

All we know for sure at this point are these certainties:

(The Italicized and quoted sections of text below are taken from official correspondence from the Centers For Disease Control, issued today, March 12th, 2020, in the most recent statements regarding the coronavirus outbreak.)

1. Wash hands and surfaces to limit the spread of any germs.
"Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask. (CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.) Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty."

2. If you're feeling sick or have flu-like symptoms, stay at home. (Cover your coughs and sneezes; social distancing)
"People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness. You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis."

3. This virus is (as far as we know at this point) only fatal to infected elderly or immuno-compromised individuals. To the general population, thus far, it is similar to the flu.
"People with a weakened immune system, older people and people with certain underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example, seem to be at greater risk of serious illness. For those, there’s a chance the virus could cause a more serious respiratory tract illness like pneumonia or bronchitis."

4. The virus is TREATABLE.
"COVID-19 patients should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions. People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately. Call ahead to a healthcare professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread. Tell your healthcare professional about your recent travel or contact. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19."

5. Eat healthy and stay hydrated. Allow yourself to get plenty of sleep each night (6-7 hours recommended). These both encourage and maintain a healthy immune system.

6. Stress and worry are not productive methods of infection containment, and may even weaken your immunity.

7. This will end.
"Duration of illness depends on the individual. Some people are only experiencing mild symptoms. People who are older, immunosuppressed or other comorbidities will likely have more advanced symptoms and be sicker longer. No specific data is available."

8. Common sense shall prevail. As a human race, we have made it through much worse than this, and many times over. WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO.

None of the above are new behaviors, and none of them should be scary to us. Yes, some of these can be tough to keep at 100% compliance, but now is the time to try our hardest.

I truly feel (from listening to and reading data from multiple news and health outlets) that this is no different than any number of mutations of the common flu, that many of us get, and less of us die from every year at this time, but it can seem scary, because it's new to us, we have less early knowledge, little to no testing and treatment, and the media has certainly not helped to quell our fears.

Stay strong.

Stay healthy.

Stay hopeful.

And think about this- Any other year at this time, we would be inundated with politics (ONLY!) in the news.

I believe (and hope) that the biggest impact to come out of this will be the economical effects that we are already seeing, with a good chance of it increasing sightly over the next week. I also feel (and hope) that within 2-3 weeks- AT MOST- we will have turned the corner, and will be able to resume our normal lives.

I welcome this mental challenge to remain strong and positive! Do you? Will you join me in remaining CALM, AWARE, and COGNIZANT?

If you need a pep talk, feel free to message me, and I'll do my best to lift your spirits!

If you want a debate about the virus or it's severity, kindly move on. Negative thoughts and worry will not solve anything.

Be well, friends.

💗💗💗💗 -Jeff