Closed restaurants and shops, few cars and people around is what is the now the new normal. Imperial Beach residents are coping with the coronavirus situation as best as possible and doing what they can to stay busy during these unusual times by working from home, spending time with kids, doing projects around the house and cooking.
Samantha Snow is a working mom with two children, Daniel, 13 and Grace, 4. She works for a defense contractor and the week that Governor Gavin Newson told everyone to stay home, her employer was only allowing half of the employees at the office while the rest had to telecommute.
These days she finds herself busier than ever with two children at home and working full time; she doesn’t have much time for herself.
On Thursday, March 19, more news came. “Then it came out yesterday that only the essential people could be at work. Everyone needs a permit to come in,” said Snow.
At this point Snow has been working from home for a week. Her two children who attend a private school are doing online school for a few hours in the morning. Snow tries to keep a sense of normalcy in the house. “Every morning I write out a schedule for the kids and show them what I expect them to do for the day,” she said.
Snow also keeps them busy with activities and crafts besides schoolwork. In the afternoons they take the dog for walk to get some fresh air. “I try to make the afternoons and evenings as normal as possible. The online school keeps them busy and they see their friends virtually,” she said.
Snow and her husband are doing things that give the kids a sense that grown ups are handling things. Although she is allowing her kids the use of electronics, she limits the time they are on them and that’s paying off. “They are already getting more creative with their time - that’s the silver lining. They are getting the experience of childhood, more like we had. They find things to do. It’s unfortunate they cannot play with friends, the isolation may cause problems the longer it goes,” she said.
Snow finds that grocery shopping has now pretty much gone back to normal apart from paper products which are still hard to find. “Shopping is the thing to do now. We’re social. We’re not meant to be isolated,” she said.
Snow has connected with her friends through zoom and her prayer group meets virtually.
Another resident Kim Paris, who is in charge of community outreach for the non-profit IB Beautiful, has left town. Paris, her husband and granddaughter have left the area and gone to Kernville near Lake Isabell where they have property. “We have kept ourselves away from anybody up here,” she said.
She feels comfortable leaving Imperial Beach for a while because all events for IB Beautiful are on hold. Her husband, who is in the service industry, can’t work right now. Her son, a case manager in law enforcement, can’t work because there are no arraignments. Her daughter is a law school student and works as a waitress and living off her tips is also not working.
“Everyone is struggling,” she said.
While Paris is in Kernville she plans to stay busy with her time off working on filing taxes. She said she did not overbuy food when everyone was doing so. “We have enough to last,” she said. “There are zero outbreaks here. We’re in isolation.”
“Everyone in my household doesn’t have a job and there are five adults,” said Kim Nolan owner of Vitamin Sea Wellness, a spa on Seacoast Drive. The decline in business started two weeks ago when her clients started canceling on March 13. Nolan offers massages, facials and more. “My business stopped. I’m into the third week,” she said. Her oldest daughter works at a Marriott hotel and she is not working right now, the other one is in college.
Nolan has had very little business and very little money coming in. “Luckily I have had a few people buying CBD products,” she said.
Nolan sells CBD products which can be especially helpful during this time since the products help with stress, anxiety and pain. Her customers have helped her out by buying gift certificates to be used at a later date and paying through Venmo.
“We’re a military town they still have their jobs, money hasn’t changed for them. If they prepay for one or two [gift certificates], it’ll keep my family alive,” she said.
Nolan was worried about the rent but she and her landlord worked it out, but she’ll still be responsible for the rent in the future when business picks up. “It’s ok for a couple of weeks but if this lasts two months, how am I going to catch up?” she wondered.
Nolan is looking at ways to help people via zoom to help them with stretching now that she can’t do massages. With time on her hands she has worked on a backyard project and getting rid of things. Slowing down hasn’t been all bad. Nolan is also growing micro greens in a hydroponic garden.
“In a way it is a good thing. It’s a time for people to calm down…look at how we treat mother earth…staying busy cooking at home. I have made my first batch of Kombucha,” she said.
The entire family is being extra careful when anyone goes out because her oldest daughter has asthma. “The risk is huge for her. We’re taking enormous steps,” she said.