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Bloody Elbow’s COVID-19 Diaries: Entry 1

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Most of the world have been impaired and put on hold due to the coronavirus.

Here at Bloody Elbow, we’ve been trying to continue covering combat sports and give you various updates, news and content during these troubled times. Like everyone else though, our lives have also been affected by this, so on this feature we’re peeling back the curtain quite a bit. We’ve got a diverse staff spread across the globe, and while we normally highlight other people, we’ve now decided to share some of our own personal stories on how each of us are dealing with this pandemic.

The following is the BE staff’s first entries for our COVID-19 Diaries. If it can serve as a release and help you deal with this situation better, we also encourage you to do the same on the comments.

Writer: Anton Tabuena
Location: Metro Manila, Philippines

Entry 1:

It’s been 10 days since we’ve been on lockdown. We’re pretty much on house arrest now, and there are police and military implementing it. For some reason, there’s also a liquor ban too. If that isn’t intense enough, Duterte just got approval for more emergency powers — on paper, it would mean less red tape, but I fear it could just be an extreme overreach and another way to abuse authority and steal from the people.

I’ve been stuck at home stressing about testing, medical supplies, shitty infrastructure, and corruption. Everything is probably going to get worse, and I worry that despite the extreme measures, my dad and family might still get infected.

There’s a lot to worry for, and more to be angry about. But unlike many Filipinos battling hunger, unemployment and poverty — concerns far more pressing than possible exposure — I know I’m already in an extremely fortunate situation.

Because of Bloody Elbow, I have the luxury to stay at home and ride things out. Instead of cabin fever, boredom and a lot of uncertainty, my work from home routine actually hasn’t changed too drastically.

I still get angry. I still worry. The world’s turning to shit, but I’m grateful to be one of the lucky ones, so I’m okay. I’ll be fine.

Writer: Zane Simon
Location: Seattle, WA, USA

Entry 1:

Day 437 of my self imposed isolation. The world, or what I remember of it, seems only like the faintest memory. Are cars flying yet? Have we entered some new phase of human evolution? Do people still decorate their crocs?

Three days ago, there was knocking at my door. A herald bearing news of the end times, or a gang of post-apocalyptic raiders looking for easy targets? Whoever they may have been, they left a small package from Lord Bezos as tribute. Oh hey! It’s the Criterion Zatoichi box set I ordered just last week…

Honestly, though, the national response to this has been one vast mess and it’s hard to look at it any other way. I’ve been in a state of more-or-less isolation now for the last week, after spending the week before slowly cutting back my social schedule. And it’s all dovetailed nicely with some lingering cold effects and the start of allergy season. That perfect blend of pseudo-symptoms to cause wild bursts of paranoia, coupled with the knowledge that I couldn’t get tested for COVID-19 even if I wanted to, and probably shouldn’t try, just in case I do have it or don’t and could get it on the way.

I have two casual acquaintances who have already had their case of coronavirus and lived to tell the tale. And there’s more talk from others, my parents included, that they think they might have already had it back in December/January when the 2019 flu season proved exceptionally weird. None of that really makes me feel better about the whole thing right now, though, since the severity of symptoms seems to vary so much from case to case.

On the other hand, It’s been good to see some of the local responses. Busses are now free, evictions have been suspended. The kinds of steps that could (and hopefully should, but probably won’t) drive changes in civic culture down the road.

A slightly stranger angle on this for me has been that, as part of our HOA (please don’t look at me like that), I’ve had to look at creating policy for other people covered by our association, things like halting late fees and scrapping less meaningful scheduled upkeep. The kinds of decisions that felt remote a month ago and suddenly must be made so that people can live with less immediate threat of debt.

Ultimately, for as annoying as all this is, for now, for me, it’s just annoying. Certainly the kinds of restrictions that Anton is living under sound a lot more trying and potentially draconian. For now, I just have at-risk friends and family members to worry about. Some of whom are facing sudden financial cutbacks as well. For their sake, I hope we get a more robust testing response to this pandemic soon. Otherwise what’s an inconvenience today will be a disaster tomorrow.

Writer: Mookie Alexander
Location: Portland Metro, OR, USA

Entry 1:

Let’s see – Self-isolate, stay away from large gatherings, and work from home? I’ve been doing this long before a pandemic. Now I have to do it indefinitely because the Governor of Oregon (after mounting pressure from local officials) issued a “stay at home” order two days after a bunch of people were shown at the beaches doing anything but social distancing on Saturday. This is one of the rare times where I’m rooting for terrible weather to further discourage going outside.

Oregon’s response has not been particularly well-handled in my view. Not terrible but not great, either. Way too often we have seen declarations that they won’t close the schools, won’t close the restaurants, won’t issue stay at home mandates, only to reverse course within days. In fact, the restaurant closure decision was literally walked back in the span of four hours. We may only have 200+ cases (as of Tuesday’s results) but testing is nowhere near Washington’s level, so we surely have much more than that. Furthermore, testing has largely been limited to people exhibiting symptoms despite clear evidence that a lot of carriers are asymptomatic.

I live in Washington County, the second largest county in the state and where Nike and Intel are located, and it has by far the most cases of COVID-19. For context, Portland is in Multnomah County and has tested more people but has less than half the positive results. I’m a stone’s throw from Nike’s headquarters and I can tell you that one of their little offices, which is usually packed by 9 AM, is completely empty at the moment. I’ve not gone out very much over the past two weeks (other than to do essential things like grocery shop and buy takeout) but I’m sure the next time I do leave the comforts of my own home, it’ll look like a ghost town. Last time I rode the train during rush hour at one of the busiest stops on the line, and you’d have thought it was an 11 AM crowd and not 5 PM.

As far as supplies, I’m pretty well set. I usually keep my household well-stocked whether there’s a pandemic or not, because bad things can break out at any given moment. A lot of the things I need are walking distance anyway, so that can double as my exercise.

What I’m most thankful for at the moment is that I have my jobs at Bloody Elbow and Field Gulls, which I can do from anywhere. But I know that luxury isn’t afforded to many, and it is terrible what this pandemic is doing to the businesses and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people around the world. It’s terrible how stretched beyond capacity health care systems already are, with resources dwindling. Am I worried? Hell yes I am worried — my dad is 67 with a compromised immune system — and I’m just recovering from a cold myself. These are troubling times and frankly none of us really knows when it’ll get better, at least in the United States.

Writer: Tim Bissell
Location: Greater Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada

Entry 1:

As I’m writing this, Canada has around 25 deaths from COVID-19, with 6 of those in my Province of Ontario. The Provincial government has announced that at midnight tonight all non-essential services/businesses will close. On a Federal level, Justin Trudeau has been giving daily TV briefings about the situation, urging people to stay inside. I’m comforted by these measures and I’m happy we started doing this when our death count was comparatively quite low. I’m also trusting that our governments – Ontario and Canada – are advising us based on the best science available and are not being political with any of this. I’m also pleased that, from my perspective, people in my neighbourhood and around the GTA seem to be following this guidance.

My wife and I have been self-isolating since last Monday. Outside of dog walks, we have only left the house for groceries and some hardware supplies. We are fine. We’re lucky that both our incomes have not suffered from this. I, of course, work from home. My wife is a teacher and she is on paid leave while all the schools in the province have been shut down. The school shutdown is only scheduled for the next two weeks, but everyone assumes they will be shut for far longer than that. It hasn’t been that hard to get supplies. I live in a major city outside of Toronto and have easy and quick access to any kind of store you can imagine. The grocery store has not been slammed but some items are scarce (toilet paper, meat, flour).

Mentally, staying inside is not that much of a challenge to me. I’m a writer, so I’m most happy when I can sit down, put on some music and work on whatever I’m writing. My days are being spent more or less like they were before the virus, working for Bloody Elbow, working on other writing projects, and enjoying hobbies (which are inside hobbies). I do miss seeing my friends and my family (my parents are an hour away and both are in high risk categories).

We do have some big life changes potentially on the horizon. This situation may complicate them a lot. But we are trying to just stay present, focus on what we can control and prepare ourselves to figure things out on the fly.

During these times my thoughts are on those who are not as lucky as me. There are lots of vulnerable people in my community and I have a responsibility to do what I can to help them stay safe. By staying inside, I can prevent spreading the virus. So can you, reader. I’m also thinking about those who are in financially precarious situations. I’ve already paid a little forward to help someone out and I plan on doing it regularly, as my income comes in. If you are able to do this, please do. This is a time where we need to share what we have and work together. These are times we will look back on for decades to come, so behave in a way that you’ll be proud to remember.

Writer: Tim Burke
Location: Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

Shak has already described what the Lower Mainland of Vancouver is dealing with in his entry below. I live in the suburbs of the city, so it’s a bit different out here. As the city of Vancouver passes edicts to close businesses or parks or what have you, it takes the suburban municipalities and cities a day or two (or more) to follow their lead. And in some cases, they still haven’t.

I live next to a school, that is currently closed for spring break (and will obviously continue to be closed afterward). I have stayed home for the last 10 days, only going out to walk my dog at said school. But it is quite frustrating. Yesterday, long after all levels of government demanded that people stay home, there were at least 80 people out on the soccer field. There was a 4 on 4 soccer game for little kids, with a bunch of people standing around cheering them on. People running the track (which is fine if distanced properly). And a group of probably 15-20 people just sitting in the middle of the field, chilling.

Why people are this stupid is beyond me. Why on earth would you jeopardize your own well-being, much less the well-being of your CHILDREN, when you’ve been bombarded with urgent demands to STAY HOME?

The best thing possible happened today though. The best population controller Vancouver has to offer – rain. The park is no fun now. The soccer field is too wet. People are actually being forced indoors. It’s a ghost town at the school today, and I couldn’t be happier. The quicker that people realize that staying home now means this will go away faster, we’ll all be a lot better off.

Writer: Milan Ordoñez
Location: Parañaque City, Philippines

Entry 1:

We’re at week two of Metro Manila’s lockdown. “Enhanced Community Quarantine” as our government fancily puts it. Men in uniform patrol the streets, checking each individual if they have their “quarantine passes” on them.

As mandated by the powers that be, only one individual per household may step out and run essential errands like buying food or medicine from 5 am until 8 pm, when house arrest begins.

The downsides are clear as day. As of this writing, recorded cases in the country are at 552, including 35 fatalities. Travel bans everywhere. Vibrant cities turned into ghost towns. Life, as we know it, has changed drastically in just a matter of weeks.

But you can’t look past the upsides on a grander scale. Clearer skies after decades of pollution. Extremists calling a halt on planned attacks. Drug pipelines are shut down. Work from home policies are allowing people to spend more time with their families. Medical professionals are getting more appreciation than ever. SOCIAL DISTANCING.

The way I see it, we’re all stopped on our tracks and reminded to slow down a bit. I see this as a reset for humankind after years of hustling and being constantly on the move. It’s unfortunate that thousands of lives are lost in the process, but we can learn a thing or two from this. And here’s hoping it all sticks even after the storm has passed.

Let’s take this much-needed breather. I’m pretty sure we’ll all benefit from it one way or another.

Writer: Shakiel Mahjouri
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Entry 1:

I was taking these new changes in stride, but this episode of The Walking Dead is starting to give me the heebie-jeebies. It seems silly to think I was planning a trip to Brazil in May just a few weeks ago. All non-essential businesses are closed, but no curfew has been called yet. My girlfriend and I spend most of our time in-doors, aside from groceries and taking our puppy on less-active trails at the nearby dog park. The inaccessibility to jiu-jitsu or weight lifting has opened up my day for other hobbies like cooking and video games. Health concerns aside, that’s been nice.

There are some big decisions that soon must be made. My girlfriend is a registered nurse. She is coming off a two-week sabbatical and preparing to go back to work. On one hand, she has a calling to help patients in these uncertain times. On the other hand, a shortage of protective medical equipment means nurses aren’t properly being cared for. She signed up to help others, not to put herself in harm’s way. I rent an office space in the basement of my father’s home. It operates as a HQ for my on-camera work. I only go there when necessary now, but I’ll have to apply strict safety measures should my girlfriend return to work. We will both be more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 and I can’t chance my dad catching it.

Some of my friends are taking the threat more seriously than others, but those in my circle seem to be following government guidelines for the most part. I have friends who have lost their jobs and I have friends who live with the elderly or immunocompromised.

To look at the situation half-glass-full, these unfamiliar circumstances have facilitated a unique sense of unity. Just last week, 10 of my friends hopped into a Discord audio chat and set up an online game of Cards Against Humanity. Yesterday, we used the Netflix Party chrome extension to simultaneously stream The Land Before Time on Netflix. It adds a shared play/pause button so everyone can watch at the same time (or so I can nefariously pause the film right at the climax).

I challenge everyone, myself included, to use this time as an opportunity to catch-up on goals you’ve put off, find news way to problem-solve, and reconnect with loved ones and online communities. Stay safe. ✌️

Writer: Carolyn Lee Adams
Location: Greenville, South Carolina, USA

Entry 1: Welcome to my world, sad people! I work from home and I am a stay at home single mom of twin boys, so I’ve been living the isolation life for a while now, and it sucksssss. I am so sorry for all of you who have been enjoying your freedom and have now been pulled brutally into deep, deep waters of quarantine.

So, my life hasn’t changed much. Like a cave fish, I already adapted to my dark environment, my eyes growing extra large. However, not getting any breaks at all is starting to make all three of us insane.

I was on a conference video call this morning and my 21 month old children pushed a kitchen chair all the way to the microwave, where they opened and closed the door about thirty times, then they started the dishwasher, then pushed the chair to the fridge where they dumped about twenty ice cubes on the floor. I don’t want to brag too hard on my boys, but it only took them about five minutes to get all of this done.

Long story short, I am starting to lose my mind and drink more.

In South Carolina, Gov. McMaster kicked it up a notch and ordered police to disband groups of three or more people. Schools, restaurants, and bars are closed.

Most importantly, many of my best friends work in the service industry and are now out of a job. My church’s food pantry normally gives out 500 bags of groceries a week, but demand has hugely increased, so I’m doing my part—collecting food and delivering it. It’s funny, I’ll ask well-to-do friends to go through their pantry and often they’ll offer to give me cash instead. I go to Costco with it, and get donations to the food pantry that way. People are holding on to all the food they’ve got. Strange times.

Writer: Stephie Haynes
Location: San Antonio, TX, USA

Entry 1: Day 939 of quarantine. Worst day ever would’ve been yesterday, then today happened. Yesterday, my husband took our cats (3 of 4 since our feral rescue, Iris, bolted somewhere within the house to hide). Eric (my hubs) takes the cats to their annual checkup/vaccination appointment since our vet is set to go to “emergencies only” on the 30th.

Fast forward to pickup, where we learned that our sweet, docile girl, Lily, has a heart murmur that they think stems from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (heart disease). She will require an X-Ray ($284), an echocardiogram ($579) and some advanced bloodwork ($340) to know how advanced it is. Our wellness plan covers only the X-Ray, but we’ll figure it out. We don’t have children. Our pets are our kids.

Fast forward to today, where we are still trying to find Iris, and she has all but vanished into thin air. We’ve torn the house apart, looked in every corner, crevice, piece of furniture…nothing. We’ve checked our Ring camera to see if she snuck past Eric when he was carrying the others in their carrier crates to the car, but she didn’t. At least that we could see because the video clip stopped short of Eric actually getting the door shut after setting the crates on the porch to be able to close it.

So now we have one sick kitty and one missing kitty. And did I mention my cousin is currently in an emergency room with Covid-19 symptoms being monitored while awaiting a test? Yep, there’s that, too.

I’m trying really hard to be positive and hope for the best outcome, but between the terror I feel as I watch this virus sweep the world, the economic uncertainty of my little family’s well-being and those of my colleagues, friends and family, and now this string of unfortunate events, it’s getting hard to keep from crying out of nowhere, and the smile I try to keep plastered on my face is pretty much gone.

I debated with myself on whether I was going to post any of this, but I don’t really have a lot of outlets to unburden myself, so I said “fuck it,” I’m gonna go for some group therapy, and this is where I’m at on Day 939 (I actually lost count. I’m well into week 2, just can’t remember if I started this on the 12th or the 13th). Here’s hoping you are all having a better quarantine experience than I am.

P.S. San Antonio got our shelter in place order last night (March 23) at 6pm.

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