Quarantining “Claudius the God”

Book quarantine at Baltimore library.

I stare at a used copy of Claudius the God. I have stared at it for 24 hours. At least it feels like it. I’m waiting for a sign.

I called my cousin the librarian. “When will it be decontaminated?”

“No one dies from reading a book,” she said.

The official library book quarantine time is 72 hours here. Then patrons pick up their library books, and the most careful may quarantine them for another 72 hours. With all that quarantining, there isn’t much time for reading, is there?  We’re scared to read our own books.

“Quarantine theory” isn’t my cousin’s department, and she doesn’t have much confidence in her colleagues’ calculations. Although the ALA (American Library Association) site provides links to scientific studies of COVID-19 at the New England Journal of Medicine and the CDC, there is remarkably little information about the virus on paper. The virus lives on cardboard for 24 hours.

So I checked WebMD. It’s where I diagnose all my illnesses (usually correctly). WebMD says of paper like newspapers and mail: “The length of time varies. Some strains of coronavirus live for only a few minutes on paper, while others live for up to 5 days.”

Not very specific, is it?

“Reading Woman on a Couch,” by Isaac Israels

I’ve dutifully stayed home, washed my hands, worn masks at stores, and now I just want to read my book.  Is this COVID-fatigue?

According to UCDavis Health, COVID fatigue is born of constant stress and anxiety. And then we get careless about the precautions.

Kaye Hermanson, UC Davis Health psychologist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. says, “We’re tired of being cooped up, tired of being careful, tired of being scared. Our collective fatigue is making some people careless – one reason COVID-19 is rising sharply again in California and throughout the U.S.”…

“We can help ourselves,” Hermanson said. “We’ve heard this before, but it’s true: It’s time to develop coping skills.” Those include:

  1. Exercise: “It’s the No. 1 best thing we can do for coping,” she said. “Any exercise – even a simple walk – helps. It releases endorphins, gets some of the adrenaline out when the frustration builds up. Just getting out and moving can be really helpful for people.”
  2. Talking: “This really helps, too. Just saying it out loud is important,” Hermanson said. “Find the right places and times, but do it. Ignoring feelings doesn’t make them go away. It’s like trying to hold a beachball underwater – eventually you lose control and it pops out. You can’t control where it goes or who it hits.
  3. Constructive thinking: “We may think it is the situation that causes our feelings, but actually, our feelings come from our thoughts about the situation,” she said. “We can’t change the situation, but we can adjust our thinking. Be compassionate with yourself and others. Remind yourself, ‘I’m doing the best I can.’”
  4. Mindfulness and gratitude: “The more you do this, the easier it gets,” she said. “Try being in the moment. You’re right here, in this chair, breathing and looking around. We put ourselves through a lot of unnecessary misery projecting into the future or ruminating about the past. For now, just take life day by day.”

I’ve decided I will read Claudius the God.

I hope this is as reckless as I get.