A sign on the door of the city’s Development Services Center. / Photo by Megan Wood
A sign on the door of the city’s Development Services Center. / Photo by Megan Wood

Like everyone else, I regularly fantasize about the mundane things I want to do when this pandemic is behind us: stroll into Trader Joe’s without waiting in line, order a margarita in a restaurant, drop my son off at daycare.

What I miss most, though, is not any individual outing or event or meal, it’s doing any of those things without a nagging, overwhelming, crushing feeling that your every move is being watched and judged.

It’s not just that I hate waiting in line to enter Trader Joe’s. It’s that every minute spent waiting in line at Trader Joe’s or doing any rote activity in public view is to be a newborn fawn teetering into a clearing – you’re suddenly a target, and the barrage could come from anywhere.

Is my foot stepping over the line marking the appropriate distance to keep from the person in front of me? Am I the only one who hasn’t been secretly amassing a trove of bandanas and honing my sewing skills?

My neighborhood mailbox has been defaced not by mischievous teens but by nagging elders who’ve scribbled angry missives to those who’ve dared pick up their mail without a mask. (Ironically, my masks arrived … in the mail.) If you happen to obtain too good a mask, though, you risk being reverse-scolded for keeping it for yourself instead of donating it to frontline workers.

Twitter, Facebook and Nextdoor now exist solely for shaming people who aren’t behaving in the precise ways all of these sudden public health experts have determined they must police.

Culture writer Anne Helen Peterson rationalized this week that in the absence of national leadership and with misinformation rampant, people are desperate for a sense of order – thus, they lash out at strangers to impose it: “While some people channel their anger and frustration toward the president, others, exhausted with that prospect, direct it toward others.”

The New York Times this week dubbed it “corona-shaming.”

A few weeks back, pieces popped up all over the media urging people to adjust their own expectations and productivity goals during quarantine and to instead just give yourself a break already.

Now it’s time to give everyone else one too.

What VOSD Learned This Week

Traffic and air pollutants have plummeted now that no one’s leaving home – and that could guide how San Diego approaches its future climate plans. Speaking of everyone staying home, the San Diego Airport is well-positioned financially but the long-term impacts of widespread closures could threaten its massive upcoming projects. MTS, meanwhile, says it’s seen the writing on the wall and is officially halting its effort to put a new tax on the November ballot that would have funded transit projects. Another transit agency, the North County Transit District, appears to be one of the earliest local agencies to start sounding the alarm about the virus.


Despite guidance from the CDC and direction from the City Council, San Diego Police are continuing to cite homeless people for congregating on the street or staying in their vehicles. Police aren’t doing regular parking enforcement like ticketing expired meters, but they are still writing some tickets – including vehicle habitation. As the city moves homeless residents into the Convention Center, it’s now hoping to purchase hotel rooms where they could live more permanently.


Some county projections show hospital capacity could hit its max with coronavirus cases, which is why several plans are in the works to determine who would get ventilators if there aren’t enough to go around. And county officials have said San Diego’s coronavirus testing capacity is increasing, yet the number of tests being performed is actually going down.


Grad students at UC San Diego are keeping up their ongoing strike amid coronavirus closures, but are being forced to change tactics. Over in North County, school districts are taking differing approaches to how they’re incorporating online learning. And with students out of view of the school officials tasked with reporting abuse concerns, child abuse calls have plummeted.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“Sonko, the governor of the Kenyan capital city, Nairobi, confirmed in a media briefing on Tuesday that his care packages include a few small bottles of the cognac, Hennessy. The governor justified the inclusion of alcohol as ‘throat sanitizer.’” – Who among us is not sanitizing his or her throat vigorously during this troubling time?

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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