I am living with war-time Mike. He is unshaven, only eats when I bring him food, and spends most of his day in the back room he’s turned into an office. He comes out for another cup of coffee, a glazed look on his face, muttering to himself. Sometimes he’ll come and sit and talk to the boys for a few minutes, the stress lines on his face relaxing with their antics and hugs. But his sense of duty is never far off, and after a few minutes he squares his shoulders and goes back in.

Thankfully, our boys are old enough to understand that Mike’s work, right now, in these crazy times, is necessary. Thankfully, Mike has spent the previous years filling the boys’ buckets with love and time and attention so there’s enough reserve to weather through this.

We’ll be OK. But it is pretty hard to watch.

The tool Mike’s team has developed is intended to be used for hospital capacity planning for COVID-19. Basically, you input the number of known cases in a region, along with a few other assumptions, and the tool will predict (based on SIR models) how big the surge of COVID-19 cases will be. Will the hospitals need to accommodate 100 new patients a day? 300? 1,000? Or more? And when? This tool (along with others like it) is why so many regions in the US now have physical distancing or shelter-in-place orders.  

As you likely know, the goal is to keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed. People can recover from COVID-19 in most cases…that’s why it’s vital that care (ICU beds, staff, ventilators, medicines) is readily available. Otherwise, people will needlessly die.

But as we get further and further into this crisis, models like Mike’s can only predict so much. His team is trying to keep up. They’ve built social distancing models into the tool, they’ve added a variable to account for the time elapsed since the first patient was admitted…but modeling a real-world pandemic situation as we get pulled further and further into it is tricky. “We are so…exposed” Mike confided. “The whole team is feeling the pressure. Stopping is not an option — this is still the best we’ve got — but continuing is…” here he pauses, thinking. “We have to get it right” he says quietly. “There’s so much at stake.”

Pressure is mounting. I proofed an email for Mike to send out to a whole slew of people earlier this week. “In times like these” he wrote, “with all of the variables at play, all models will be wrong. It is our commitment to make this particular model less-wrong.”

My little breakdown was Tuesday. I had run to the grocery store in the morning, and came back, feeling shaken for no specific reason. I left the groceries by the door, unable to go through the whole disinfecting routine just yet. Mike appeared in the kitchen for more coffee, his face tight. “We might begin to see evidence” he said, grimly. “This is it. This is…the first day where we might start to see results of social distancing measures.” 

One of the hospitals Mike’s team had been monitoring had had an explosion of COVID-19 patients over the last few weeks. This hospital in particular was quickly filling up its ICU beds — the exact situation we’re trying to avoid. 

Because the virus can take anywhere from 2-14 days before it presents itself, the results of social distancing won’t show up right away. So while everybody is locked up (amid fears of our downward-spiraling economy), COVID-19 cases will continue to rise.  

Initially, social distancing won’t look like it’s doing much to help.  

An hour or so later, I peeked into the back bedroom. Mike, for once, didn’t have his headphones in. He turned around, his eyes a little shiny. “It’s working, Babe” he said. “At least for now. The cases…they leveled off.” His voice was thick with emotion.

That was Tuesday. It is now Saturday. And that hospital, the one Mike was so worried for, has maintained a constant load of COVID-19 cases all week. New ones have come in, sure, but patients have been discharged, too. People are getting the care they need. They are getting the doctors and the nurses and — if needed — they are getting ICU beds and ventilators. 

And they are recovering.

Social distancing is working. It matters. Not only can we take lessons from Italy (and this article clearly shows the impact that social distancing made — or didn’t — in two different cities), but we are now seeing it here, too.

Social distancing is hard. It is inconvenient. It is sad, it is heartbreaking, it is lonely. For some, it is putting their entire livelihoods at risk.  

But it is also working

And right now…that feels like a tiny bit of hope.

Rainbows, Face Masks & Sweatpants #AtHome

Have you made rainbows yet? Our small city house gets so little light that I didn’t want to block any of it with paper drawings. Linzi found these gel window markers which are perfect. If you want to support local, you can also get them at Momo’s, which is offering no-contact pick-ups for those of us who live in Philly, or shipping for the rest of you. (I ordered online, then called on my way home from the grocery store…they simply set the package outside for me to grab — easy.) Don’t know about the rainbows? It started as a sign of solidarity in China and Italy earlier in March.

Face masks: It’s time. While it’s clear that the *real* masks (n95 and surgical masks) should be left for use by the medical professionals who need them the most…the CDC is now recommending that the rest of us start wearing homemade masks outside of our homes. I like this quick tutorial that makes a mask out of hair ties and a scarf. The CDC also has guidance on making, wearing and caring for masks. We’re also working on a post, so look out for that soon. For solidarity, if you guys post a picture of yourself in a mask on IG or Facebook and tag it with #themomeditmasksup I’ll…well. I’m not sure yet, but we’ll do SOMETHING GOOD.

Should anyone actually be shopping right now?  This question has been plaguing us here at TME. We’ve read the articles (this one is a little more balanced) and…I don’t know what the right answer is, or if there is a right answer. Obviously, if all non-essential shopping stops…more jobs will be lost, our economic burden will increase. But the safety of our warehouse workers, of the people doing delivery cannot be overlooked. What do we do?

I am not going to presume to answer for anyone else. But personally, I am going to try and support the retailers who are taking steps to protect their workforce. I am going to try and support the retailers who practice transparency, with the understanding that this isn’t a perfect system. Remember our process to determine which retailers made it onto our Sustainable Style page? Transparency was at the heart of that, too.

Never thought I’d put these words together. Gang, I found a sexy and sustainable…sweatsuit. NAADAM’s cropped hoodie and high-rise sweatpants (I have xs in both) are 95% organic BCI cotton, 5% cashmere, and shockingly sexy on. The fabric is drapey and somewhere between a sweatshirt and sweater material — it just looks and feels so lux. I got a set for Mike, too, because I couldn’t stand the sight of his unwashed gray sweatpants one. more. day. (His new sweatshirt is here, sweatpants, here – size M in both.) See us “modeling” them on the TME IG (@themomedit).

This whole outfit is my dream for working-from-home. This soft pink crewneck sweater is calling my name…especially with that spot-on styling if you follow the link (hint: easy, wide-leg trousers + sneaks). I wonder if I could, uh, “sweatpantize” those trousers somehow? These Lululemon ones might work…(and the company’s response to the COVID-19 situation is pretty great — they’re paying employees through June 1 and cutting the salaries of senior leadership)…or those linen Athleta trousers would also be really pretty. Heck, many of you raved about Athleta’s studio wide-leg pants — maybe they’d have the same vibe?

Found: little boy sweatpants I don’t hate. Raines just grew out of all pants. Since J.Crew seems to be having crazy amounts of sales these days, I ordered their boys’ slim-fit sweatpants for Raines and they’re awesome. Seriously sleek and cool-looking, not schlumpy. I also picked up this hoodie because I love when J.Crew goes with a gender-neutral color palette (and Raines looks especially cute in pink).

Be a dragon. Syd found this interactive choose-your-own-adventure story online called, Choice of the Dragon. You play (read?) as a dragon and get to choose how you interact with the kingdom (also available in Spanish). I played for a bit and got sucked in — the writing is witty, modern and fun. My boys will love it.

Favorite games? In tomorrow’s special Sunday night newsletter, we’re going to be highlighting the board or card games we’ve been swearing by these last few weeks. If you haven’t yet signed up for our newsletter, we’d love for you to subscribe, here.

I cat do this I need you man. This note cracked me up. It’s to a Dad from his 6-year-old son…who was trying to get to a new level in Sonic. (Thanks again to Syd.)

You’re so funny, no YOU’RE SO FUNNY…did you catch our April Fools Day article? (We think we are verrrrry funny.)

So Pax has been busy. I don’t know what his parents have been doing, but they need to GET ON THEIR GAME. Holy shit. (Watch with sound on.)

Stay safe, wash hands, wear masks and…chin up, you guys. We can do this.

xo,

S

11 COMMENTS

  1. I appreciate the balance in your recent posts. I’m a physician working in the hospital (we have COVID patients, but our state is not among the few hardest hit…yet). I find myself annoyed both with people who seem to assume everyone is at home not working, but equally annoyed by overly dramatic “I’m a healthcare worker putting my life on the line” type attitudes. Good balance here. Thank you!

  2. Elizabeth Rafter, I hear you. Didn’t mean that I am not also extremely worried about all aspects of this pandemic (my patients, coworkers, my family, myself, my friends who are small business owners…etc etc). I hear you.

  3. I am so glad you clarified the April 1st post. I have not been keeping track of days- did not even think about it being APril Fools day- I was very confused. 😀

    • This cracks me up!! I can only IMAGINE what you guys must have been thinking!! (The best April Fool’s Day pranks are, IMO, the ones where you’re not quiiiite sure…haha.)

  4. This is my favorite weekend post ever. I appreciate your balanced and sane approach to shopping during this pandemic, and I’m grateful for your honesty about dealing with the stress of the situation. Everyone at TME is so smart! I respect each of you and look forward to the daily email more than you probably know.

    Also appreciate the clarification about the April Fools Day post 😆

  5. Thank you for your weekend posts. I look forward to reading them. It helps in not feeling alone while we are all dealing with this. What steps are you doing to disinfect your groceries? I hear a lot of different opinions and would like to know yours. Thank you so much for being a bright spot in my day. I’ve been following your blog for years.

    • Thanks for the love. My “routine” is, uh, not impressive. For a while, we were just wiping everything down with anti-bac wipes…but we’ve run out of those and can’t seem to find them anywhere. So now we’re spraying everything down with all-natural home cleaning spray and using paper towels. Except for the fruit and berries – those we just wash (and I don’t worry about the plastic berry containers…we just make sure we wash our hands a bunch).

  6. Thank you so much for sharing Mike’s work (and so eloquently, too). In your own ways, you both are doing critical work. Mike is tirelessly supporting the frontlines through his models, and you helping those at home feel part of a community. Every bit counts right now, and that’s incredible news that Mike’s modeling showed the effect of social distancing.

    This is my fifth week of isolating at home and it’s hard at times. My body feels tired from sitting and I don’t sleep well. I’m also heartbroken that our Washington Governor announced schools will remain closed through the end of the school year (I run a literacy tutoring program for elementary schoolers). But I’m finding ways to get in touch with my students and their tutors, and we’re doing our part to stay home. Thanks for this post: it was encouraging to see that it’s working.

Leave a Reply