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Situation Summary: On March 16, 2020 the White House issued a Coronavirus Guidelines for America. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the stock market as the Dow recorded its worst one-day point drop in history. The human toll of the virus continues to grow – more than 4,500 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States and 88 have died. Globally, the death toll is just over 7,100.

March 16, 2020 – 136 cases in Louisiana, 94 in Orleans Parish (with 3 deaths) and 16 in Jefferson Parish

I started the day by contacting the store managers of the Macy’s stores in Baton Rouge and Metairie to see if the hours had changed or if there were other things I needed to know before going to them this week. They said they were going on a conference call today to hash out details of their response. We’ll see if I’m driving to Baton Rouge tomorrow.

It was then time to gather up my financial documents for the rental place and scan them all in so I could send them to the accountant to the do the taxes. As I need a Schedule K to do my taxes, I always try and make an appointment to do TGG Enterprises tax prep in the middle of March. Debbie is working from home, so getting everything to her electronically actually helps.

I reached out to the tenants and spoke to both of them about their situations and decided to forgo any rent for April. We will revisit in May but I will talk to my dad about waiving May rent, too, should the stay-at-home order continue.

I made chicken salad for lunch and pulled aside some sourdough starter for more bread baking.

The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (which has failed us badly in the past with water pressure and breakage issues) released a statement that the water was safe. EPA has confirmed that the sanitizing done by the City is sufficient to protect it from viral contamination.

My Barbara’s Bookstore boss let me know that the Philadelphia Macy’s store was to be closed until the end of March and that they wanted me to not go to Baton Rouge for the next couple of weeks. Then, there was a press conference by Mayor Cantrell where she spoke about more aggressive measures to stop the spread, including closing movie theaters, malls, gyms, bars, casinos, etc.

The IWO board agreed to cancel the March 21st Candidate Forum and Endorsement meeting and move it to May. We held the meeting by conference call as we didn’t want to disobey the social distancing directives.

March 17, 2020 – 171 cases in Louisiana, 136 in Orleans Parish, 4 deaths. 5894 cases nationwide

For St. Patrick’s Day I drove over to my parents in Alabama. We had corned beef sandwiches and I went through their pantry to go on a food and staples run for them. Alabama has only had 39 cases, most in the county in and around Birmingham. My parents live in Baldwin county and it only has one case so far. My plan is to hit the grocery stores and bank for them tomorrow so they can go thirty days without leaving home. They are both in their mid-70’s and mom is a lifetime smoker who is very susceptible to bronchial issues in a good year.

I heard from my publisher, Bella Books, that they are significantly reducing staff in the warehouse (down to one person every day). Those who can are now working from home. They are going to have a St Paddy’s day sale today to help people stuck at home with nothing to read a boost but they were informed by Amazon that they are pausing any ordering or fulfilling for products that are not household staples, medical supplies, or other high demand products. On a positive note, Ingram says that they are well positioned to fulfill any Amazon orders direct to consumers once Amazon starts to order again.

All of the Macy’s stores are closing at the end of business today, so I that means no work at all for me until the end of the month, as most of my nonprofit clients are under shelter in place orders (California) or facing the same strictures I am here.

I also learned that our tax preparer’s husband, Billy, is in the East Jefferson hospital with pneumonia. Keeping a good thought for Debbie and her family.

I may stay for longer than planned at my parents, as it isn’t like I need to be in New Orleans now that my work is closed through March and, likely, most of April, too.

March 18, 2020 –7323 cases in US. 46 cases in Alabama, only 1 in Baldwin County, 280 in Louisiana with 196 in New Orleans with 7 dead

I went shopping today to Publix, Wal-Mart, CVS, Winn Dixie and Piggly Wiggly. Some places were out of flour, low on meat and out of bread, toilet paper and cleaning supplies. I got everything on my parent’s list but rubbing alcohol and sanitizer and am glad I remembered to bring my toilet paper from home when I came. I also ran by the credit union to deposit money from Mom to my niece who has been laid off.

I was amazed at how courteous folks were being – lots of excuse me, please and thank you. This is definitely time to give the hardworking folks at grocery and convenience stores who are dealing with same stresses but are still having to work full shifts in front of the public.

All the stores had wipes available at the entrance, so I was able to wipe off the cart handle to begin and clean my hands as I left.

I was reminded by a friend (and fellow introvert) to check on our extroverted friends during this time of crisis. All the social isolation and event cancellation must be hitting them hard. I won’t go crazy and call but I can text and check in online.

Speaking of online, I’m seeing a whole of people posting about Facebook sending notices about posts being removed for not meeting community standards. One of mine, about Octavia Butler books being published by the Library of America, was reported as well. I appealed and the post is back.

Who has the time for that nonsense?

I came home and brought stuff to the door before I removed my shoes to come in and washed my hands. After helping mom put everything away, I showered and changed clothes. Not sure if I’m keeping them from getting exposed but I’m doing my best.

My uncle and his wife came over that evening for drinks and appetizer. They are from the northern part of the state (with the most cases) and with heart and health problems, coming to their beach house was a pretty good plan.

March 19, 2020 – 249 cases in New Orleans. 392 in Louisiana with 10 dead and 78 cases in Alabama.

First day of spring and the earliest spring in 124 years. I saw a cottontail rabbit in the front lawn and took a picture.

Dad went out fishing with his brother and a couple of his friends that came down from the north of the state. Most of the fish they caught were too small and under the limit, so he left the ones they could keep with his brother for them to have for dinner.

We’ll have some fish from last year’s fishing trip for a meal once the fillets thaw.

Learned that one of the first people I met when I moved to New Orleans Corinne Barnwell’s husband has been admitted to the ICU for pneumonia. The Rev William Barnwell is an amazing activist for racial justice and I’m keeping him in my thoughts.

March 20, 2020 – 326 cases in New Orleans with 10 dead. 537 in Louisiana with 106 cases in Alabama.

Gulf Shores is closing their beaches today. The state of Alabama still hasn’t but, then again, neither has Florida. This means parking lots controlled by the city and their public beaches will be closed.

I had a conference call last night that started about the Louisiana legislative session which has been temporary adjourned until March 31st. As more people talked about their organization’s (and personal) difficulties the call became more supportive than advocacy. There still is plenty to do to protect our democracy and ensure that free and fair elections still go on as well as to protect women who may be in isolation with their abusers and to address the digital divide that keeps some children from being able to keep up with online schooling.

My sister and her husband came by with a couple of pizzas they picked up from Pizza Hut. We ate and then sat around chatting on the back porch as the sun went down.

March 21, 2020 –22043 in US with 763 cases in Louisiana with 20 deaths, 131 in Alabama. 418 cases in New Orleans

Made blueberry sourdough pancakes (recipe here- https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2020/02/23/blueberry-sourdough-pancakes/)

Did some more bird watching and took this picture of a red bellied woodpecker.

March 22, 2020 – 30,788 in US, 837 cases in Louisiana with 20 deaths. 451 cases in New Orleans, 15 have resulted in death. Alabama has 138 cases

Dad and I enjoyed oven baked fish with cornbread. The mackerel was basted in lemon butter sauce. He also made coleslaw and had some peas but I didn’t have any of those although I did have 3 pieces of cornbread. Recipe for the cornbread here – https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/one-fish-two-fish-fresh-fish-good/

March 23, 2020 – 1172 cases in Louisiana, 567 cases in New Orleans, 196 in Alabama, 33404 cases in US

I pan fried pork chops and made gravy and biscuits to go with them. Excellent comfort food.

One of the ospreys that is nesting nearby used one of the pine trees in the yard as their base for hunting.

I think it was a young bird as it took a while before they caught a fish. I was lucky to catch it flying off with dinner with my camera.

March 24, 2020 – 675 in New Orleans with 26 dead, 1388 in Louisiana, 242 cases in Alabama, 52145 US cases with 544 dead

My dad went to a doctor’s appointment over in Florida. It was the final one after his back surgery last year. He did get a final set of physical therapy appointments from it, so that was good but I’m not sure when the physical therapists will be able to see him.

I was able to convince him not to go grocery shopping although he did hit the Class VI store at the Pensacola Naval Air Station to pick up 4 cases of beer. He has his priorities, after all.

March 25, 2020 – 62,873 confirmed cases in US with 894 dead, 1795 in Louisiana with 827 cases in New Orleans, 386 cases in Alabama

I woke up and started venison tenderloin, mushrooms, bell pepper and onion in a marinade for us to have shish kabobs for lunch today. I then headed down to the boat launch on the far side of the neighborhood and birdwatched for a while. I saw white egrets, a great blue heron, a couple of pelicans, a million seagulls and a porpoise.

Dad went out for a physical therapy assessment that took a little over two hours and left him wrung out. Upon his return, I made him immediately take a shower. I then wrapped his clothes in the bathmat and washed a load. I’m not taking any chances, even though there are only 4 cases in Baldwin county.

In the evening I had a conference call with the Executive Committee of the Forum for Equality and we decided to make sure thank yous went out to all the donors and attendees of the recent legislative event and to do a check in with all members of the Equality Club. Instead of the usual board meeting next week, we will do a check in with the board by video conference to keep everyone up to date and engaged.

Our best case scenario is that the two really horrible bills already filed (and the other two being threatened) are not bought up in the shortened session that could be reconvened before the end of April (although we think it may be put off to May). After hurricane Katrina, the session focused on recovery and budgeting issues and we’re hoping that the members have the same mind set post-COVID19. However, with the last of the term limited legislators out of office, we’ve seen more and more ideologues who may not care for focusing on recovery and instead try to push their partisan agenda. We have to have our eyes on the session and be ready to act immediately to stop those bad bills.

March 26, 2020 – 80,021 confirmed cases in US with 1,136 deaths. 466 in Alabama, 2305 in Louisiana, 997 in New Orleans

I got up early again to head to a location across Wolf Bay where I was hoping to catch some pelicans. Unfortunately, it had a big gate so I couldn’t go exploring. I went instead to a boat launch in Miflin but the fog made it hard to see any birds. I could hear them, though. I did take one picture.

There had been a bit of an odor outside bedroom window where I’m staying and I showed my Dad how the area near the septic tank was flooded and the standing water was bubbling. He was able to get a guy to come out and look at the pump. He will return tomorrow with his guys to replace it.

March 27, 2020 – Alabama cases rose to 639 with 3 deaths, 1170 cases in New Orleans and 2746 in Louisiana with 119 deaths. Cases in the United States rose to 101,657 with 1581 deaths. 579 cases in Mississippi

Started the day waiting for the septic tank pump replacement. It was quite the incredible smell, as Han Solo would say once the workers opened the tank for emptying. The weight difference from a pump installed in 1993 and fixed about 10 years ago and the replacement was astonishing – the guy in charge says it will lift as much liquid as before, maybe even more.

The Facebook and Twitter timeline was full of the ‘gotcha’ type interview Wolf Blizter did with Mayor Latoya Cantrell, trying to blame New Orleans for being an epicenter on Mardi Gras. What the news seems to forget is that the President of the United States was still downplaying Covid-19 at that time. The first Louisiana case wasn’t identified until 9 days after Fat Tuesday (Feb 25).

Considering how quick the Mayor was to cancel St. Patrick’s Day celebrations (and how quick people were to pooh-pooh her actions at the time), it is infuriating that she was supposed to know more than the Federal Government and anticipate how bad things were going to get. Trump’s tweet from the day before Mardi Gras Day was: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.”

You don’t hear anyone going after CPAC event which ran from February 26-29 or the Florida governor who didn’t shut state beaches until March 19 (after most spring breakers returned home to infect their colleges). Heck, Disney didn’t close their parks until March 13th!

My sister and her husband came for dinner. I made 2 sourdough crust pizzas (recipe here – https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2020/02/01/cast-iron-skillet-sourdough-pizza/) I made one a mushroom pepperoni and the other a green pepper and onion plus mushrooms and pepperoni. Everyone raved about it and we ate all but 1 slice.

I found out from a friend that William Barnwell has died of Covid-19. My deepest condolences go to Corrine.

March 28, 2020 – Louisiana cases hit 3315 with 137 deaths. 1298 cases in New Orleans with 70 dead. Alabama has 668 cases with 3 deaths. 6 cases in Baldwin County. 663 cases in Mississippi with 13 deaths.

I went out early with my sister and her husband to putter around Wolf Bay in my Dad’s boat. It is charmingly named “At Ease” as he was a career military officer. We saw heron, pelicans, thrush, osprey and seagulls during our morning cruise.

For lunch I made Greek souvlaki with tzatziki. I love firing up the grill and the pork loin cooked pretty quick on indirect. Recipe here – https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/greek-gyro/

I was grilling barefoot and stepped on a coal – ouch! I filled a cooler with ice and water and shoved my foot in it while the meat cooked. At least I had prepped everything else (the pita bread, cherry tomatoes, onions, etc) so it wasn’t much for my folks to do to bring it together.

It is my parents’ 55th wedding anniversary. They sat on a porch for a while talking about the passage of time and then sat down in front of the TV for an all-day ‘Mythbusters’ marathon.

March 29 – US cases 142,106 with 2479 deaths

The first US death from coronavirus was on February 29th. The 1000th death was on Thursday, March 26th. The 2000thdeath was yesterday, 48 hours later. That is exponential growth.

I started the day by watching the sunrise on Wolf Bay.

Then, I got up and made sourdough pecan waffles for me and my parents. Very yummy. Recipe here: https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/sourdough-chocolate-pecan-waffles/

After breakfast, I recorded a reading from my last novel, Bitter Heart, on Soapbox. Of course, I was forced to shower and put on a nice shirt first! The organizers at Saints and Sinners have requested it. The Literary festival had to be cancelled but they’re now offering readings from the authors who were scheduled to attend (plus links to buy the books from a local bookstore, Tubby and Coos Mid City Book Shop).

March 30 – 159,184 cases in US with 2945 deaths. In Louisiana, we saw a jump to 4025 cases of which 1480 cases are in New Orleans. Alabama has 907 cases of which 17 are in Baldwin County.

Mom and I finished a 1000 piece puzzle of rainforest animals that she started before I arrived so more than 2 weeks to put it all together. What a challenge!

For lunch I made a chicken and mushroom pot pie using some BBQ chicken I found in the freezer and picked off the bone. Recipe here: https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2019/08/18/skillet-chicken-mushroom-pot-pie/

Dad had physical therapy but this time, he didn’t complain when I made him immediately take a shower and gather all his clothes together for washing. I think the increase of Baldwin County cases are making him take notice – or maybe it was the death of Joe Diffie, a country music singer that he has always liked.

Their next door neighbor called that he was watching two eagles fly overhead so I went out. They were too high up to get a good picture but hypnotic to watch. After, I went and took some pictures of some of the azaleas my dad has cultivated. This one is a native honeysuckle azalea, known as Flame.

March 31 – US has 174,467 with 3416 deaths. 1834 cases in New Orleans, 5237 cases in Louisiana, 974 cases in Alabama

I started the day by making cake donuts (recipe here https://mouthbrothels.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/national-donut-day/). I made several with a cocoa cinnamon sugar (3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons cocoa, 1 teaspoon cinnamon whisked together) and the rest with cinnamon sugar. Dad wants me to make them again with blueberries.

I have now been in Alabama 14 days. It looks like I’ll be here for another month.