Dispatches from the Block, Week 5: Household Shortages

(Derek Hatfield / Flickr)(Derek Hatfield / Flickr)

During the pandemic, WTTW News is checking in with a few people around the city and suburbs to see how the “new normal” is affecting their everyday lives and communities, and we’ll keep in touch as events progress. To date, none of the subjects in today’s dispatches are reporting any symptoms or diagnoses of COVID-19. 

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Did you miss week one? Read it here to learn more about each person featured.

Check out week two here and week three, and go here for week four. And if you’d like to add your voice, contact us! We want to hear your stories.


Alice and Chris

Is your household experiencing a weird shortage?

We are running out of dish soap and laundry detergent all the time. I think it’s because we normally let the laundry reach elephant eye level before doing it and now we are weekday laundry doers. I don’t recognize us anymore.

(Courtesy of Alice and Chris)(Courtesy of Alice and Chris) Is there anything that you’ve recently noticed because you’ve been around it so much?

We laughed once at this car’s sticker and now we see it all the time, in fact we walked the dog today and noticed that we didn’t see it. Hopefully one day we’ll meet the author and have cheese.

Pretty much everyone’s been sheltering in place for a month now. How are you feeling after a month of shelter-in-place?

It is fairly variable over here. Today it’s a bit depressed and tired. We are all pretty over it, but there will be moments of excitement and hope. It does feel good to see the sun even if it’s 30 degrees out.

What are your thoughts on progress being made on the virus?

It is a huge relief and we are really glad it’s working. This is directly attributable to strong competent local leadership and we need to stay the course. One area that feels like we could be doing better is in dealing quickly and with compassion with incarcerated folks. It would be so perverse to go back too soon and undo all of the efforts that so many people have sacrificed for. It’s especially worrisome as nicer weather will surely make it hard for people to comply. But this is Chicago, nice weather isn’t going to be here consistently until June anyway, stay inside!

What’s a non-coronavirus related news or media item you’ve seen lately that you think deserves more attention?

The continued erosion of our democratic processes and governmental safeguards. The handling of the Wisconsin election by the U.S. Supreme Court should have been the biggest story in the country. It should serve as a huge wake up call to the risks our democracy faces by putting political partisans in what should be non-partisan roles.


Steve

Is your household experiencing a weird shortage? 

If anything it would be toilet paper. Our favorite brand is the Costco brand, and they have been out every time I have gone. So I get smaller packages at our Jewel, and they were way overpriced.

Is there anything that you’ve recently noticed because you’ve been around it so much?

The amount of dust that accumulates on a daily basis since we are both in the house. During lunch, we both take a bit of time to sit and watch news in our living room and always notice the dust on the coffee table. As for the neighborhood, we have noticed a lot more litter, especially gloves and masks. We just cannot believe how careless people are about these things and our environment. 

How are you feeling after a month of shelter-in-place?

Feeling a bit stir-crazy. Ready to go out and do something other than being stuck in the house all day and all night. Would like to have dinner with our daughter and son-in-law. Go out to a restaurant. Also feeling anxious since we have a scheduled vacation in June for the whole family, both daughters and sons-in-law and our granddaughter.

What are your thoughts on progress being made on the virus?

In our town, we have one of the highest number of confirmed cases (Skokie). And just yesterday our mayor enacted a rule that we must wear a covering over our mouth and nose when going into any establishment in our town, such as grocery stores or picking up carry out, and riding in public transportation.

What’s a non-coronavirus related news or media item you’ve seen lately that you think deserves more attention?

I would say probably two things, one is the November elections as there is no more debates, and town halls. And also the crime, I did just hear this morning of another attack on the Red Line.


Mikal

Is your household experiencing a weird shortage?

Hot sauce. We are running dangerously low on hot sauce. It’s on the list.

These two turned one area of the house into a TikTok studio. Whatever lets me get my work done, I’m all for it. (Courtesy of Mikal) These two turned one area of the house into a TikTok studio. Whatever lets me get my work done, I’m all for it. (Courtesy of Mikal) Is there anything that you’ve recently noticed because you’ve been around it so much?

I’ve become reacquainted with just how early the birds seem to sing this far north. I’m randomly waking up at around 3 a.m. these days, and the birds are outside already delivering concerts. 

How are you feeling after a month of shelter-in-place?

I’m stir-crazy, yet hesitant to spend much time outside beyond yard cleanup and taking out the garbage. On Wednesday, I put on my mask and ran some school-related errands. I was on edge after being at home for a good month. About half of the few people I saw were wearing masks. Foot traffic was nonexistent. It’s one thing to see how the pandemic has changed Chicago on TV or in photos, but it’s so startling to finally experience the change yourself. I feel safer at home. On a great note, our relative who was hospitalized with COVID-19 has been discharged, and is recovering. I’m feeling pretty grateful for everything.

What are your thoughts on progress being made on the virus?

I’m encouraged when our elected leaders say they’re relying on the scientists and the data, instead of on yearnings to get back to “normal,” to make their decisions. But sheltering in place, comfortably, has been an option for the fortunate. Those who are essential workers, or who just can’t or won’t shelter in place, are at higher risk of becoming ill. What’s working for some is not working out well for others. Those clamoring for a return to business as usual don’t care what happens to any of us, really. 

What’s a non-coronavirus related news or media item you’ve seen lately that you think deserves more attention?

The sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden. This would have been a much larger story absent the pandemic. Not to mention the way that leading publications have chosen, finally, to cover it. Or not.


Jenny

Is your household experiencing a weird shortage?

I'd say fish. I want a nice piece of fish. We are dangerously low on toilet paper but we have a Charmin big roll we can use and a Tushy. We have an order of TP supposedly on the way from Costco. Our last purchase was in February, so this should be good for a while.

Is there anything that you’ve recently noticed because you’ve been around it so much?

We have a lot of books – so many books I thought I wanted/needed to read. Also, six people on the internet at the same time is not fun. I think we need a new and bigger modem. A really fast one. Like a race car.

How are you feeling after a month of shelter-in-place?

My kids seem to be doing well, e-learning aside. That has been a struggle, especially for my ADHD kid. We are all on weird schedules. I still wake up every day wondering what I need to do and then
"It's Groundhog Day! You have nowhere to be and nothing to do!" And then, when I think about how long we will probably be here... well, I need to step back and just take it all one day at a time.

What are your thoughts on progress being made on the virus?

I am pleased with our collective progress. I am grateful to our local leaders for setting the example. Although, it's easy for me to say, as we don't have a first responder risking everything every shift they work in our immediate family. My husband still works every day in food service, essential but not life-sustaining (depending on whom you talk to, he is in the coffee business), but he has far more control over his work environment than anyone in the medical, police, fire/ambulance fields. I hope people realize, we need to protect these folks.

What’s a non-coronavirus related news or media item you’ve seen lately that you think deserves more attention?

I've seen pictures of Mount Everest, Mount Kilimanjaro, Los Angeles, New York, and The Great Wall of China during the past few weeks. I have a glimmer of hope that we absolutely still can reverse some of the damage done to the planet. And let's get those dolphins back in the canals of Venice! (I kid!)


Nancy

Is your household experiencing a weird shortage?

I am buying more tortilla chips than usual, because my husband has decided once a week for lunch what he wants is tortilla chips and cheddar cheese. Not nachos. Just...chips and cheese.

Is there anything that you’ve recently noticed because you’ve been around it so much?

I live by some streets full of big houses on double or larger lots; I've been figuring out which one looks the most like a murder mystery could be filmed there as I wander around. I've also been taking lots of pictures of flowers on my walks, but that's pretty usual for me in spring. 

How are you feeling after a month of shelter-in-place?

Fine in myself, mostly, in the day-to-day. I do really hate wearing the mask when I go shopping; I dread it each week.

What are your thoughts on progress being made on the virus?

The numbers ticked back up here in Chicago over the weekend, which was kind of gutting. On a national scale, I’m so angry whenever I let my thoughts drift that way - shelter-in-place will just keep going and going without a coordinated response at a national level. The goal of the lockdowns was to buy us time to work through some problems, like the lack of tests, and I don’t think the federal government has made much movement there. I think it’s terrible that governors are having to organize regional pacts to give us some kind of partial way through (though I am very glad they're doing it).

What’s a non-coronavirus related news or media item you’ve seen lately that you think deserves more attention?

I don't know that it deserves more attention, exactly, but I do think the giant siphonophore that they found in the deep ocean is really neat. 


Follow Erica Gunderson on Twitter: @ekgundy


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