My COVID-19 Diary – Week 2

March 23 – March 29, 2020

Much has changed in the world this past week, yet much has remained the same in our own personal lives. We have completed two weeks of self-isolation, only leaving our apartment for grocery shopping and to take out the trash and recycling. We have adjusted our meal planning and grocery shopping habits, now planning ahead for two weeks instead of just one.

Our first use of Loblaw’s Express Pickup service this week was a mixed success. We placed our grocery order six days ahead of the first available pickup time, but we were able to amend our list up to 24 hours before pickup. On the day, our order was completed on schedule, and it was very convenient to be able to drive to the grocery store, park in a designated stall, and have the grocery card brought to the car. Meanwhile, regular shoppers were lined up outside the grocery store – keeping a social distance of 2 metres apart – waiting for their turn to go inside. The down side to the pickup service was that the store was only able to fulfill 10 out of 17 items (60%) on our grocery list, with no available substitutions. The list was submitted digitally, based on inventory availability on the day, but there was no guarantee that each item would be available on pickup day. As a result, it was necessary to shop at another grocery store to find the missing items.

We have placed our second order for Express Pickup. The first available pickup date was 14 days ahead, and this time around, there is no longer the option to make any changes to our list after it has been submitted. Obviously, this online service is becoming more popular, and the grocery store is having to make adjustments to the process. Maybe, with a little data mining and a significant pool of orders, the grocery can more closely predict supply and demand. I realize that this may compromise the privacy of our data, but as subscribers to the PC Optimum program, which already provides weekly offers based on our historical grocery shopping, we may have already accepted these terms and conditions. There needs to be a balance between data privacy and customer convenience. In two weeks time, we will see if they can improve on their 60% efficiency.

Over the past month, some new phrases have been introduced in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first of these is “social distancing,” which appeared in early March. Public Health officials have been promoting social distancing as one of the most effective ways of reducing the spread of illness. In its most simplistic application, it means keeping a physical distance of 2 metres from others. It generally means staying away from crowded places and avoiding physical contact such as hand shakes. The WHO has recently suggested that the term “physical distancing” is more apropos, as social contact with family and friends is still being encouraged. In Week 1, we encountered some poor social distancing behaviours in the grocery store; the stores have now adapted, installing plexiglass screens to protect the cashiers, marking 2 metre intervals on the floor at the checkouts, and reminding shoppers to keep their distance.

Another commonly used term was “flatten the curve,” which implies that one of the benefits of social distancing is that it will slow down the spread of the virus, thus enabling the health care system to respond to cases with less stress on the system. On March 19, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Medical Officer, proposed that we need to “plank the curve” in a more forceful response. The plank is a yoga pose where one’s body is held flat, with a straight spine, while positioned on hands and toes; it also has connotations with a flat wooden board.

I have selected these two phrases for illustration using pen and watercolours as part of my self-isolating lettering practice.

I hope that you are also self-isolating and finding new activities during this time of change.

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