It was a bit confusing at first. Pandemic?  

I had to look up the difference between pandemic and epidemic.  The pandemic is much worse because it covers a broader area. I watched like everyone as the number of cases in Colorado increased, 2, 8, 20 and on and on it went until we got to thousands.  

Governor Polis started to have a press conference daily, reporting the severity of the spread of COVID-19 and encouraging us to practice “social distancing”, a new phrase that was both frightening and foreign.  We started to learn more as schools, then bars and restaurants were ordered to close.  

People were encouraged to work from home if possible and employers were asked to split shifts and create the 6-foot gap between workers.  I started to wash my hands constantly and wondered why toilet paper was the thing people were hoarding. 

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And I did not know anyone who had the virus, not even a friend of a friend.  But the news from Italy, then New York showed the overwhelming number of sick people and the exhausted and spent medical workers.  I started to wake up every day and realize “it’s real and the news won’t be good.”

There is a promenade on the north side of the apartment building I live in.  It is about four city blocks long, a wide sidewalk, open to emergency vehicles only.  About midway, just off the path, is a huge water tower proclaiming “Olde Town Arvada”, which is the area on the east end of the promenade. 

The water tower has an ocean blue pointed top and bowl bottom. The tank is ecru with black lettering. In Olde Town Arvada you’ll find specialty shops, coffee, restaurants, bars and a stop for the G-Line light rail that commutes to downtown Denver.  The busy walkway accommodates bikes, dog walkers, families, traffic from the neighborhood to and from the shops.  

The traffic is sparser as we react to the pandemic, but not deserted.

I met my neighbor Lily and her big fluffy black dog just outside our main door. She was brushing Rex, gathering the puffs of hair as my terrier, Riff, inched closer for a sniff.  I noticed a woman with a dog approaching from the east, a block or so away. Her terrier was about Riff’s size, pulling her along.  

She stopped well beyond six feet away.

“I know your dogs are probably friendly,” she said, “but I have the virus and don’t want to get close.”

Lily and I pulled back toward the building, dogs on short leashes to let her pass.

“I’m so sorry, are you a medical worker?” Lily asked.

“No”, she answered slowing a little, “I got it on the bus.”  

So the first case I encountered was a stranger.  Now I do know people who are sick and likely that number will also increase.

It is impossible to digest all that has happened in a month and will continue.  It’s enough right now to know the most I can do is stay at home and start to wear a mask. 

Joan Bancroft lives in Arvada.