It seems like everyone I talk with is having a hard time grasping everything that has happened over the span of three weeks time. Back in December, all the talk was about the coronavirus over in China and now, here we are with restaurants and bars closed, sporting events, concerts and movie theaters brought to a grinding halt due to an invisible enemy.

I hadn’t been to the grocery store in a few weeks and my trips to Walmart and Big John were a shock. Some bare shelves and items not in stock. I worked at Parkview this past weekend and while driving through Metropolis, it reminds me of Christmas Day, when most all of the businesses are shut down. Only the reason for these shut downs is not because of holiday cheer.

I remember the terrifying night of the May 6, 2003 tornado, and I remember May 2, 2011 when the flood water came flowing into my apartment at Spence Apartments. These disasters are somewhat easier to cope with than this pandemic. We can’t see the coronavirus germs and you don’t know when you’re out in public who might or might not have it. The invisible enemy has turned our lives upside down and we’re all wondering when things will just get back to normal.

There are some people who may think everything that has been done up to this point, to help stop the spread, is overblown. Overblown or not, there is no vaccine for the virus and I’d rather our federal and state governments take every precaution possible, rather than underreacting and facing the possibility of even more people dying.

I remember West Nile Virus, the Bird Flu and Swine Flu have all been in the news in the past, but I don’t ever recall such drastic measures being taken with those outbreaks. Regardless of whether the measures being taken are too little or too much, there is no disputing what a devastating impact this has already proved to be on the national and local economies.

As I said in my previous column, my last few weeks working as a reporter for the Planet were very memorable and will be seared into my memory.

I wanted to cover one last election. Although there was only one contested race, election night was eventful. Our Planet tradition in recent years has been going out to eat before going to the courthouse to await the election results. Since Linda Kennedy was no longer working at the Planet and Areia was going to be in Mayfield, I was a little bit bummed I’d be covering it solo. But, Linda said she would come to the office and we would go out to eat. Then, came the mandate for restaurants to close dine-in operation. Thank you, COVID-19.

But, we solved the problem by ordering food on the Fat Edd’s app, picking it up and bringing it back to the office to eat. We even had another former Planteer Tricia Dorsey Overall to join us.

Linda offered to go with me to the courthouse, and I had my spare iPhone set up to do the Facebook live feed of the results. It was plugged up, but then all of a sudden showed a low battery notification. While I was trying to figure out why it wasn’t working, somehow I couldn’t find the option for a live video on that phone.

I was scrambling for a bit because I needed to use my phone. Linda offered to let me use her phone, so after I got it connected to mine through my hot spot, I was able to do the live video. At one point during the evening the screen projecting the vote totals went blue and someone in the small courtroom said, “OK, Michele, what did you do?”

To which I quickly replied, “It wasn’t me, it was the coronavirus!” The computer screen had gone to sleep and was quickly restarted and back to scrolling the election results.

The small courtroom on election night had more people than usual for a primary election, with only one sought-after race. There probably were more than 10 people in the room too, but to me it kind of felt like everyone there was just glad to be around other people and not cooped up in their homes.

We will get back to normal, eventually, but it could get a lot worse before that happens. I was glad I worked over the weekend because I got to interact with my co-workers, while following the proper social distancing etiquette.

Like everyone else, I’m hoping and praying I and no one I know contracts the virus and the U.S. will be able to “flatten the curve,” as they say so we can all wake up from this new, surreal, frightening normal, which does feel a lot like the Twighlight Zone.

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