Robichaux: A TV show come to life

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 9, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The moment I first heard of the coronavirus was worthy of a mention in an Alanis Morissette song.

It was mid-to-late January and I was slouched on the sofa, watching a Netflix show that first aired in 2016 and was cancelled after one season. The name of the show? Containment. It was about a deadly epidemic that broke out in Atlanta, forcing part of the city into a military-enforced quarantine.

I told my family that if I were ever in the midst of a pandemic, I wouldn’t be caught dead standing less than six feet from someone. No way would I leave the house without a mask. These fictional characters were just making the worst decisions for the sake of TV drama.

My phone screen flashed with a text message. Did you hear about what’s happening in China?

To be honest, I didn’t give it much thought. I made a mental note of the irony and tucked the thought away. These things happen in the world, but rarely do they reach the River Parishes.

I was a little distracted. Weeks away from closing on my house, I was overwhelmed with real estate paperwork and the thought of cleaning out an overcrowded closet.

I hardly paid attention to the last two episodes of Containment — but I thought about the show two months later, when it became clear that a pandemic could and would alter our daily lives, not just in the River Parishes, but in every corner of the country, simultaneously.

My behaviors during a pandemic aren’t quite as extreme as I imagined. Watching the show, I thought I would self-isolate in my house, apocalypse style, with a substantial supply of food.

Granted, the virus in the show had a 100 percent death rate within 48 hours, so COVID-19 isn’t the same. But some of the social impacts are.

While I have put forth my best effort to stay home since March, I have left the house for the grocery store, restaurant pick-ups, press conferences and frequent walks around the neighborhood. I’ve tried to social distance, but I haven’t maintained a perfect six-foot distance from others every second of the day.

My fear throughout this virus hasn’t been getting sick, but spreading sickness to others who are more vulnerable. I also feel a responsibility to stay healthy for my job, because news doesn’t stop to wait for you to feel better.

More than anything, I yearn for “normal” as we knew it before. I want to visit my grandparents, but they are in their late 80s with cardiovascular conditions. I want to go to restaurants and to the movie theater. My weekends feel empty without it.

It’s starting to feel like we’re moving past COVID-19 as more restaurants and businesses reopen to the public. I’m still cautious. Complacency means our guard will be down, and the coronavirus won’t disappear from our world without a trace. It’s part of our ecosystem now.

That being said, we can’t live in total self-isolation and fear as I would have in my imagined “Containment” scenario. Life still moves forward, and we have to adapt the best way we can.

As Louisiana opens up, let’s continue to wash our hands, disinfect surfaces, maintain a safe distance from others, and wear facemasks when needed. For now, this is our route to getting back to the things we enjoy most while minimizing the risks for the most vulnerable members of our community.

Brooke Robichaux is news editor for L’OBSERVATEUR. She can be reached at 985-652-9545.