A week ago, schools were still in session, the bars and restaurants were full, and most of us were going about our everyday lives, albeit with a growing sense of dread. Here at C-VILLE Weekly, our most pressing problem was what to do with a multi-page cover story we’d prepared for the book festival, which had just been cancelled.
Then came the UVA announcement, then the public schools. Then the events began falling like dominos, all the local harbingers of spring: the 10-miler, TomTom, even the Friends of the Library book sale. For the first time in the paper’s history, we scrapped our events calendar, the bread and butter of every issue, as the CDC advised social distancing and everyone in town, seemingly simultaneously, began to realize that our everyday lives were no longer sustainable.
Watching news of the coronavirus as it steadily does its damage across the globe has been like watching a slow-motion car crash, a multi-car pileup that’s headed straight for you. Yet, it’s still a shock when it hits. Virginia, which had zero known cases of COVID-19 when we first began reporting on the virus two weeks ago, now has 51, and the first Charlottesville case was announced on Monday.
By Monday afternoon, businesses on the Downtown Mall were closing up shop. I stopped into Bizou, an old favorite, and found the normally bustling dining room quiet and dark, the employees lined up behind the counter, eager for a takeout customer. They’re planning to try starting delivery. They’re hoping for the best.
Staying home, avoiding gatherings, shutting down (temporarily) our communal public life—it’s the right thing to do, the only thing to do, to keep the most vulnerable members of our community safe. But it still hurts.