We are living in interesting times.
This week, COVID-19 – a Coronavirus believed to have originated in a live animal market in Wuhan, China – was declared a global pandemic earlier this week. It came in at a time of the year where people’s allergies in the United States are beginning to play havoc with peoples eyes, sinuses, and lungs, resulting in sneezing and coughing.
We also have a few versions of the flu that appear to still be active, but are on the decline.
All of these ailments have combined to change simple, taken for granted tasks like going to the grocery store, going to see a movie, heading out for a drink, even congregating in public or religious spaces into moments with underlying dread, tension, and a light-motif of terror.
We’re seeing the news reports scrolling through our feeds about how other countries who responded quickly and proactively to COVID-19, with public drive-thru easily available testing, multiple weeks of government subsidized quarantine, and tax dollars spent to hospitalize people who were suffering the more dire effects of the illness.
We know, here in this country, we don’t have public health services. We have a President who seems to think that a pandemic is a hoax created by the party that opposes him to undermine his re-election in 2020.
Its been left up to businesses, piece-meal, to decide if they will stay open to serve the communities, or close to protect them and their businesses.
We don’t have mandatory paid sick leave in this country, so that means a lot of people are going to lose the better part of a month’s pay.
We don’t have subsidized art support, so a lot of contract musicians, actors and artists are not going to be paid for all of the shows and events that have had to close out of an abundance of caution and so not as to be a vector for contagion.
After I turned 50, a lot of my work prospects dried up.
I’m a graphic designer by trade, and I have a few clients, but I’ve seen my salary drop to about a third of what I used to make, and that’s before taxes.
I have friends who help and one who had to move back to the Midwest who passed the 50+ threshold as well, had a house, and asked if I’d cover the mortgage and upkeep and in exchange I have free reign over what to do with the 1919 Craftsman 4-square house with a finished attic and basement.
I put a sewing room and archives for my art upstairs in the attic. The basement, I clawed and scraped money, used some of my skills as an amateur furniture designer and decorator, and turned the finished basement into a small suite of rooms, and jumped into the rental bed and breakfast market to try to cover the gap, to stay off public assistance, and to pay down those student loans that were the result of a career change, from Credit and Collections analyst to, now, senior graphic designer (freelance.)
About 4 months after I opened, I achieved superhost status (yay!)
Then, we started hearing about a strange ailment in China sometimes towards late December, then it got a name: Coronavirus, a scientific name which indicated it was in the same family as SARS, and then the name the media is now using : COVID-19.
Around the same time this was happening, our President was being investigated and impeached for coercing a foreign government, Ukraine, into investigating a political opponent by withholding financial and military assistance while they were in the middle of a hot war with an adversary (Russia), who also, strangely enough, has been implicated in interfering in and assisting with the same President’s election campaign.
The President then actively obstructed justice by intimidating witnesses, and coercing his own staff not to comply with subpoenas.
The House voted to impeach.
COVID-19 went global.
The Senate Trial began.
The White House allegedly was in contact with various GOP Senators, coercing them to vote not to hear witnesses or they would be primaried – candidates more likely to align with the President’s point of view run against those who disobeyed, so they’d lose their seats – or as stated by Rep. Adam Schiff, “Their heads would be on a pike,” as indicated by unnamed sources.
Around the same time this was happening in January, the World Health Organization was passing out testing kits in order to track the spread of what would later be declared a pandemic.
The White House refused the test.
There’s a few theories as to why:
He didn’t want to be seen accepting help from the UN after vilifying them for years.
He allegedly owned stock in a company that makes testing supplies and saw another opportunity to make money off the American people.
He was distracted and afraid of being removed from office, and was paying more attention to covering his ass than he was in paying attention to the job at hand.
He knew that if you have numbers to report, the outbreak looks bad, and a President never wants things to look bad in an election year.
Particularly since parts of the Mueller report, and investigations out of the Southern District of New York would indicate that if the President loses his re-election bid, he very well could be indicted by two separate places on multiple charges immediately after leaving office.
All of that is in the news.
In the meantime, tourism and the hospitality industry gradually became more aware, and bookings started to dry up. Then, the President pulled from his limited toolbox of things he always tries to solve problems and closed our borders to guests from Europe which resulted in even more cancellations.
I have some domestic travelers booking for now, likely because renting a suite in a house with low-contact with other people sounds like a much more attractive venture than staying in a hotel with a bunch of guests, and having to push buttons and turn knobs that other people have touched, and ride with potential vectors in elevators.
That meant reviewing my cleaning protocols for the space, and it turns out, based on health and safety standards out there, were already good before COVID-19 came along.
Nitrile gloves go on.
Guest trash goes in bags and out to the garbage cans.
New gloves go on.
Bedding is stripped – all of it including mattress covers, duvets and pillows – and all are sanitized with Oxy-Clean
All surfaces wiped with Barbicide solution in the bedroom and common area.
All towels and bath mats sanitized with Oxy-clean.
The entire bathroom, all surfaces, wiped with bleach based cleaning solution.
Light switches, door handles, and TV remotes wiped down with Barbicide solution.
Bed lightly misted with Barbicide and steam cleaned with Barbicide solution once a month.
There’s probably more I could do, but that’s a whole lot more than you usually get between guests at a hotel, or at most guest spaces.
Then, the space airs for a day while the laundry goes through the machines.
Next day to prepare for guests, a lightly perfumed atomizer is run to scent the bedroom. A candle is lit to lightly scent the common area. I make a few pounds of cookie dough and freeze it so I always have some on hand. A dozen freshly baked cookies await the new guest. Milk, filtered water and juice stock the room fridge. A coffee and tea bar is set up with mugs and glasses, and an electric kettle for tea.
The room is checked for dust an hour before the guests arrived, and lights left on low to welcome them.
Sometimes there’s even foil-wrapped chocolate left in the room if I have some on hand.
There’s always going to be someone who is required to travel, even under pandemic conditions. Sometimes they need a place that feels safe, and comfortable, like home.
I try to provide that for people.
If you’re ever in DC, and you need a comfortable, quiet place to stay: