Facebook Post from Virginia McAlister (A Seattle Teacher)

(This was posted on Facebook by my friend Virginia about her experience in Seattle, Washington during the corona virus outbreak of 2020

Hi friends. For those of you that live outside of Seattle, I want to give you some information about what’s happening here in the US epicenter of the virus. This is not meant to incite panic, but these are facts, not my feelings or personal opinions. Please don’t post videos or links about coronavirus facts in response to this post. I assure you, as a scientist, a teacher, and a reader (and as a human living in the very thick of it) I am extraordinarily well-informed.

– K-12 private and public schools are closed for 6 weeks. I don’t know yet how this will affect my school, since I run an isolated preschool classroom in the forest. We don’t have a source of running water for hand washing, so we’ve been continuing to thoroughly use hand sanitizer. (Yes, I realize that it’s not as effective).

-However, I am an hourly worker (not salaried, despite my 15 years of experience) at a well-meaning non-profit that is constantly financially struggling. If we shut down, I will likely get laid off, and thus lose my income and my health insurance.

– The Seattle Aquarium, the Woodland Park Zoo, the Pacific Science Center, the Seattle Art Museum, the Asian Art Museum, and all branches of the Seattle Public Library are closing, due to staff illness and the governor’s limit on large gatherings of people.

-Initially, many restaurants closed in the International District/Chinatown due to racism/xenophobia sadly related to the virus’s geographical origins. However, the past few days have seen many “fine dining”, local staples, and other restaurants close both temporarily and permanently due to illness amongst staff, as well as customers staying home due to social distancing recommendations.

-The University of Washington has suspended all in-person classes and has moved online.

-The Washington State Convention Center laid off all of it’s hourly employees.

-Google, Facebook, Boeing, and many other tech companies here have closed their offices due to confirmed cases amongst staff. Tech workers are mostly working from home.

-Taking public transit here is currently ill-advised. This is, unfortunately, my only means of transportation besides walking. All grocery delivery services have been suspended.

-There is talk in the news of potentially closing the borders to the state of Washington, since we are considered a “viral hotspot”.

-Hand sanitizer and bleach wipes are 100% unavailable here. I found some toilet paper last night after getting a ride to the Trader Joe’s supermarket in Shoreline, north of Seattle. My aunt and uncle are mailing me bleach wipes from Oklahoma.

-A quarantine facility has been established for unhoused and/or low-income people (and college students who live in dorms) in the south Seattle neighborhood of White Center. White Center is one of the poorest and most racially diverse areas in the city. Why would they put a quarantine site next to senior living facilities and a couple of churches in a low-income, residential area with a large population of immigrants and people of color, especially when other sites the county had scoped out were in more commercial/industrial areas?

I’m not looking for sympathy, just relaying information. I am more scared of losing my job than of getting the virus, and I’m privileged to have a strong immune system and a safe basement apartment with a landlord who will (hopefully) never throw me out. Things are really challenging here, but hopefully some kind of vaccine will be developed before it gets this worrisome where you live.

I love y’all, and will update more as the situation unfolds.

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