The Lockdown Diaries: Week 9

by Janice Nigro

Tomorrow at midnight, Week 9 under lockdown in California will be over and we will be heading into Week 10.

If I really try, I can convince myself that I’ve been on a vacation. Maybe vacation isn’t the right word. Sabbatical? Hiatus? Artist-in-residence? (if I’m really generous to myself). Maybe these are better words. Because I’ve been lucky throughout. Fingers crossed. I haven’t been sick. But I haven’t seen family or friends.

The hiatus as for everyone else is per government orders. It’s an excuse to slow down. Get off the fast track. But what is the fast track for a freelance writer? Now isn’t much different than my daily life before lockdown. I stay home and do my work from the computer. Under lockdown? I stay home and do my work from the computer.

Yet it is different.

With other freelance writers, we laugh at how we complain about the stress of being under lockdown. “Huh?” we have to ask ourselves. But the way I see it, there isn’t more stress, it’s that the source of the stress is different. Fundamentally, it’s change. Until last week, I couldn’t go out for my morning beach walk. I’ve tried to replace it with a zoom yoga class. It’s not been easy.

I don’t have to drive anywhere now. I didn’t before. But I’m trying to write a romance novel while my neighbors speak to each other in a language made up of four letter words because they don’t go to work now. It’s a bit of irony, but when am I just a busybody? A nosy neighbor? Or when do I call the police?

Before I worried about putting sunscreen on before I went out. Now it’s my mask.

Some articles ask, does it serve any scientific purpose? It only works to prevent people who have disease from spreading disease. We don’t know who has it, I say. It’s an imperfect barrier for sure, but physicians wear them. That’s a good enough reason for me to wear it any time I expect to be near more than a few people especially inside a building or a bus if I dare to take one.

But now I worry whether my mask is cool. Do I have the right one? Should I have jumped on making them for some extra money?

Or am I giving people enough space when I’m out? How silly do I look abruptly avoiding any person I come across like a robot changing direction, any direction, just to get out of the way ?

And what is the etiquette now at the grocery store? Can you feel the avocados? Or do you have to buy the ones you touch?

But most of the stress is from too much information. Lots of facts but without a legitimate story. No solutions. No interpretation. I open Facebook and I see words, like people shouting at me from all across the USA. Chaos, like neon signs flashing too many choices for where to eat. What is the message?

Is there a message? Or are articles written only with the point of embarrassing our leaders? The stockpile was full of broken tests? Ha, ha, ha the media joke, coronavirus did not exist before the fall of 2019.

But the technology today has advanced to a point where the next disease doesn’t have to have a name. With the technology we have today, scientists can identify the disease causing pathogen without knowing what it is in a couple of weeks. If the stockpile had been put together right, such tools would be in there.

But do the media ask? Do they even ask what’s in the stockpile?

How, even during this pandemic, can so many of us remain content to be divided? To believe that our way is better than another? To facilitate the divide?

Is the situation so black and white? Or has our division made us weaker as a nation before this pandemic? Did it make us vulnerable to the pandemic?

Americans think they should be different. But leaders worldwide are just making it up one day at a time. There is no rule book.

We don’t like change. We don’t like mistakes. We don’t like criticism of our routines, our institutions, like the WHO, the FDA and the CDC, which might need to be updated. In a crisis in today’s world, institutions with established protocols from nearly 80 years ago failed us. Should we be surprised?

The same could be said for some of our politicians who play the game the same as they have for over 40 years. It’s time to adjust to the way things are, not the way they were.

The CDC and the FDA adapted. Unlike us. Unlike many of our politicians. These agencies had a choice. That’s what we should expect them to do. The United States has fostered a research environment with significant depth and wide spread infrastructure in both academia and industry. This was the time to reach out, and the CDC and FDA did. All parties involved might now reposition themselves to work with each other in the future in different capacities and to choose leaders who might best make the bridges between the different science communities we now have and government.

It’s been a glaring example of how disconnected the government is with the way the world works today. But also a lesson in how it can adjust.

For the last three years, I ask, have we been missing an opportunity for real change? Yes, I think maybe yes. Because we don’t like the messenger. We don’t like the message. And we don’t like the way it’s delivered. We look at the surface and not the goal.

It couldn’t be clearer. For the last three years, we pretend we’re fighting against people, what they stand for, who we think they are, but it feels like what we’re really fighting against is change.


Until next week…happy cocooning.


©Janice Marie Nigro/

Looking for a scientific editor or writer? Contact Janice Nigro at Janice Nigro Ink. I have published in Cell, Science, and Nature, and articles I have edited have appeared in Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer ResearchPLoSONE, the Journal of Surgical Oncology, and Oncotarget.



6 thoughts on “The Lockdown Diaries: Week 9

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      1. California has done OK especially for such a large state. But our governor is being super cautious. Not sure what the answer is, but one thing is for sure, we can’t stay locked down forever. I’m not sure they’ve been using all this time to come up with contingency plans. From a science side, I’m a little disappointed in some aspects, but I don’t work in government either…:).

  1. Actually the infrastructure in the science community in the US was/is really prepared for this. I’ve heard that because the methods are more universal in their application many companies have made an easy pivot to work on vaccines and other forms of treatment for Covid-19. The idea of a vaccine by the end of the year is not fantasy. But clinical trials and moving into manufacturing will probably take longer. Then of course distribution around the world. But those are all issues that can be worked out once they have something. The US just had a big misstep with the testing. It kills me because the technology used around the world was developed in the US. Our government agencies sort of screwed up, a bit, but then adapted. I guess everyone is learning.

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