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‘You just have to deal with it for the greater good of society’ | What sheltering in place is really like

WUSA9 Investigative Reporter Laura Geller’s family is under the shelter-in-place order in California. She talked to them about what people in the DMV should know.

WASHINGTON — After several states across the country have issued stay-at-home orders, many people in the DMV are wondering if our officials will soon issue similar commands, and what that would be like. My family is in California, where they're already dealing with a shelter-in-place order, and I spoke with them via Google Hangouts about the experience. 

My family is used to seeing each other mostly through a computer or phone because I'm a "long-distance auntie." But this conversation was a little different. For a family with two kids under ten, sheltering in place gets interesting.

Interviewing kids can be a challenge any day of the week, but these particular munchkins, my nephew Tyler and my niece Danielle, have been under a shelter-in-place order in California for over a week now. 

My niece Danielle wiggles and dances in my sister Rachel's lap as I ask her questions. As Rachel puts it, "it's not the easiest situation."

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The California State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health is ordering all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence, except as needed to maintain continuity of operation of the federal critical infrastructure sectors.

"It meant basically the four of us being under the same roof 24/7 trying to work, do school and not go crazy,” she described.

They're only allowed to go out for things like groceries, medicines, going to the bank or getting some exercise, and only as long as they are social distancing.

I asked my 9-year-old nephew what his parents told him about why he can’t go to school or go outside a lot.

"Because of COVID-19," he responded simply. "It's a virus and it's bad."

Video Rachel shot shows empty parking lots of stores that on a typical Saturday, would be very busy.

"We drove past the mall and some other retail outlets and it was like a ghost town," she said.

Schools, like many here, have moved to virtual learning, so, they've had to get creative with indoor time. Baking cookies with mom becomes "home economics" class.

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Credit: Leonard Family Photo
The Leonard family "home economics" class, while sheltering-in-place

I asked Danielle if she misses going to school.

"No, I just miss my teacher," the six-year-old exclaimed. "I also miss... I have a lot of things that I miss." 

My sister and I talked about what she would say to people here in the DMV, who are concerned that the idea of sheltering-in-place will soon become reality. 

"You just have to stay home," she said. "You just have to deal with it for the greater good of society. For lack of a better phrase, just suck it up and do it." 

For now, that means a lot more screen time, including some with their aunt.

"Adios, I love you," Danielle signed off before getting back to her virtual classroom.

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