20.03.2020 | Lighthouses & Beacons…

But when you’re out there floundering, like a lighthouse I will shine.
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind.
Like a beacon reaching out to you and yours from me and mine,
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind.

(Be More Kind ~ Frank Turner, 2018)

I had started drafting a blog post several times over the last few days. I hadn’t expected to start the one I finally post with this bit of information: About eight hours ago I was notified that one person who was at the same work meeting as I was 10 days ago, has got COVID 19. Crap! She’s doing okay-ish so far, typical flu symptoms and all. I wasn’t in longer closer contact with her in that meeting. At least not that I recall. We said “Hi”. I’m pretty sure we didn’t shake hands, because that was already the advice at that time. We chatted a bit after, less than 15 minutes I’m sure.

I have no idea if health authorities will ever get in touch with me about this all. I personally would consider myself a 2nd grade contact (in the same room, but no longer closer contact etc). and thus might not even get notified officially. I’m not sure how I feel about that to be honest. I know they need to make due with the limited (for such a situation) ressources they have. But it all makes me quite anxious. Again. I was doing mostly fine yesterday after feeling stressed on Tuesday and Wednesday. Today… not so much. Ugh!

I tried to call my local health authorities and hotlines and all to inquire what I’m supposed to do now. If I am supposed or even required to do anything. No luck with either phone call so far. Either busy or uninformed or out of the office. Yay! I finally found some reliable information on the website of the Robert Koch Instutite, the central medical / scientific institution in Germany. It confirmed what I thought, that as possible grade 2 contact I needn’t worry too much. To be on the safe side I will still consider strict self-isolation (as if I’d been a 1st grade contact) for the next 4 days until the 14 days incubation period since 10th March has passed. And after that I will still try to self isolate as best as I can (food shopping, picking up medicine, going for a walk on my own), because that’s just the sensible, responsible thing to do.

As someone with a bit of a higer risk (immunosuppression) and and eldery mum with severe health issues, I’m sooo pissed off by people who are still not taking this serious. You going out and spreading the virus is killing people, for fuck’s sake! But I don’t want to spend too much time dwelling and fretting about this.

Originally this post should have been about how I STILL can’t wrap my head around how this escalated. Take my work situation for instance.
Tuesday: Supervisor informed us, that all teams / employees have been classified from 1 (very important and essential) to 3 (expandable, doesn’t necessarily need to be at work). Our team has been ranged somewhere between 2 and 3. I was asked if I would like for my supervisior to inquire about a way I maybe could work from home a bit, because I’m a high risk patient.
Wednesday: my supervisor told me before the weekly supervisor meeting he would recommend for me and another elderly coworker to be allowed to work from home. He got back from the meeting with instructions, that all teams should try to avoid having offices manned with two people at once, even if that’s what we do regularily. That meant I was going home to work for the rest of the week. All still in open disregard for IT security regulations, because officially we are not allowed to work on any work-related documents etc on private, non authorised computers, phones etc. The plan was to go back into the office on Monday, get some more work to take home etc.
Thursday: In the afternoon I was told about the instruction to be at office in weekly / daily shifts, so that there is only half or even less of staff present. The IT security regulations are suspended. I heard of plans of getting some / most of us a VPN connection so we could at least access our servers with all the work documents on them. But that seemed to have been disregarded for now.
Friday (Today): I got the call that everybody – except for the absolute essential (security) staff will be “working” from home starting next week. Office phones are redirected to our personal phone numbers. We need to check our mails via the web interface and be reachable on the phone during office hours (8:30 – 15:30). We are asked to do our work as good as we can, but if we can’t, because we need access to stuff on the server, so be it. Standby mode basically! If there is staff shortage in any other essential department, we might be ordered back to help out there. But other than that… stay home, stay safe.

My supervisor and I chatted a bit about how and what we can actually really still work on next week. We need to think about that, because most of what we do isn’t essential in the short run. We were supposed to organize interviews and polls and workshops with various people in our field of work (Climate Action). But…. no one in any other institution, business or anywhere will care about that at the moment. Rightfully so, because business are crumbling, insititutions are on a similar stand by as we are.

All of this happened within three days. And there will be more. It’s going to get worse in every aspect and that’s making me anxious, I admit it. But there are bright sides, that help to distract me and to cheer me up. Many of my favourite artists are posting interesting, funny, lovely #StayAtHome stuff. Frank Turner, his wife Jess and their pal Micah Schnabel played a living room gig on Tuesday, streamed on Facebook to 12.000 people to raise funds for the FTHC Touring family. Max from the Arkells is doing a one hour long music tutorial / Q&A on Instagram Live each day. There are more and more online gigs streaming that it’s almost hard to keep track. Tonight I might try to log into a online pub quiz organized by a friend of an online friend. Tomorrow Frank will play the show 2000 live concert for free on Youtube and chat on the page while it’s one.

And I’m so grateful for all of these lighthouses and beacons that lighten up my day and help to keep my anxiety at bay. At least for a little while each day..

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