Local View Column: Jumping together into the fire of COVID-19
The song “Jump Into the Fire” from the “Goodfellas” movie has been on my mind lately. It seems to fit well with a recent week.
On Saturday, March 21, I was up before the light and decided to vacate the petri dish of my Section 8 apartment building before any signs of the pandemic could filtrate in. There had only been one case of COVID-19 to that point in St. Louis County. My building seemed ripe for the enemy.
I called Melody in Cleveland to tell her I would help her move from her condo to the new one she had just closed on. There were, at that time, about 70 cases in Cleveland. She agreed. I easily found an 8 a.m. flight for the next day from Minneapolis, dirt cheap. I had 24 hours to prepare for my planned 30-day hiatus. The day started to wind up then as I hurried to pay bills, pick up meds, and sanitize the apartment. Inspection notices were issued for all residents. I scurried about. The day was manic. I was in full-tilt boogie well into the evening.
My Uber arrived at 1 a.m. for the short ride to the airport shuttle. Streets were empty as all the bars had closed days earlier. I got on the bus, and we left Duluth at 2 a.m., just the shuttle hostess, driver, and me. The ride is normally two hours, but it took four hours when we drove into a snowstorm.
At 6 a.m. — I had been up 24 hours — the bus pulled into the nearly empty airport. I grabbed my overweight bag to carry onboard the flight. Some of the few souls around wore white masks. I wrapped my scarf around my nose and mouth and approached TSA through the roped-off maze. Two agents and I were the only ones there. I was briefly searched and put my shoes back on for what seemed an endless hike to my gate.
We boarded early for the 7:15 a.m. flight. I was one of only six passengers. The flight attendant explained the emergency procedure. No one listened. She didn’t care. She ended by saying that due to the pandemic there would be no beverages served.
We landed early. Cleveland was quiet. A few airport workers seemed to be trying to look busy. I adjusted my scarf and raced to the pickup lanes, trying to hold my breath. At that point, there were about 200 COVID-19 cases in the Cleveland area.
Melody had been up all night, too. We got to the condo with no traffic issues since most everything was closed. My body withdrawing from Xanax, I found myself shaky, looking through my meds. The day was spent unwinding. Sleep finally arrived well into the evening.
On March 27, the cases of COVID-19 in Duluth neared 10. In Cleveland, where I helped a friend move and clean for days, nearly nonstop, there were close to 900, and there were 19 deaths. The number of cases was expected to jump to 10,000 by mid-May. Thus the “Jump Into the Fire” song playing in my head.
But Melody and I are both healthy and doing well. We hope all is well with everyone in Duluth. Peace out.
Madison J. Taress of Duluth is a former marketing director for Time Warner and was editor of the Echo, the student newspaper at Rochester Community and Technical College. She studied computer graphics in Rochester, Minnesota.