Recently, my mornings have settled into a fairly predictable rhythm: Wake up, throw on some telework-appropriate clothes, make a cup of coffee, boot up my computer and check the latest news on COVID-19.
Watching the number of confirmed cases in Japan increase day by day, I often find myself starting to panic — yet I can’t help myself from checking. The hourly headlines coming out of the United States do little to ease my worries, particularly when combined with on-the-ground reports from my family and friends who are in complete lockdown.
My heartbeat quickens, my hands start to shake and I feel clammy. “Could it be a fever?!” I wonder, for the hundredth time. I grab my thermometer to check my temperature for what I know will be one of many times in the day. I’ve lived with Crohn’s disease, a chronic autoimmune condition that targets my digestive system, since I was 10. That means I am more at risk of becoming seriously ill if I catch the new coronavirus, despite the fact that I'm in my mid-20s, an age group who are less affected by it in general. Whenever I head into a public space, mask in hand, I find myself viewing anyone who so much as clears their throat with suspicion, hiding my face like a vampire shielding themselves from the sunlight. Living in this state is exhausting.