In Quarantine

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Few of us have experienced something this sweeping in our lifetimes: a global pandemic bringing nearly everything around the world screeching to a halt. Many of you shared how you were being affected via an online survey sent out in the April issue of the (e)ucalyptus email newsletter. Read those responses below, and update us on how you’re doing by emailing us at

Our house went on the market on March 13, right when COVID-19 came to a crescendo. Fortunately, we were under contract by March 17, which is fantastic! We’re purchasing our next home all at the same time. While it is a welcome distraction, and I am immensely grateful to be able to be in the homeowner game in the first place, it is a very stressful time. –Dana Maralason Edwards ’12, MBA ’14; Nederland, Colorado

I am a writer and have worked from home for the last 15 years, so I have had the flexibility to be a mom to three children… who are presently now at home 24/7. Thankfully (!), they are fairly independent and motivated to do schoolwork remotely. Although it seems like “life as usual,” with their dad leaving early in the morning, we know it’s not. As an essential employee, he is required to work. It’s hard to not worry about him and our general health every day. –Joycelyn Fung Yee ’90, San Ramon, California

I’ve been in full time isolation for weeks now since I’m a very high risk chronically ill and disabled person. My whole family is also in the high risk category so we are stuck relying on others for food right now and to keep us safe. I’ve also been told to cut some of my meds in half and taper others since important meds for autoimmune disorders and even my needles for my insulin are no longer available as they are being used to treat patients with COVID-19. –Jessica Reff ’12, Los Angeles

I postponed my wedding in May, which was heartbreaking. –Kelsey Mercado ’12, Santa Rosa, California

I am a public health physician with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). We are deeply involved in the COVID-19 pandemic. Some FDA employees inspect all sites that are involved in developing products regulated by the FDA—including vaccines, prescription and non-prescription drugs, and medical devices (from simple devices such as intravenous lines and inhalers to artificial lung machines). The FDA works closely with sister agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health. Not only are we supporting efforts to contain and eliminate the coronavirus, but some employees among us have been infected with COVID-19. I am unaware of their health status and carrying them in my heart. –Susan Kay Cummins ’77, Bethesda, Maryland

As a teacher, I am one of many quickly trying to adapt to distance learning. I have more experience with online platforms such as Google Classroom, so I’ve also become one of three “tech leads” at my school to help train and support my colleagues in using online platforms to teach. Of course, we are all concerned about our students and how to support their education while also considering their mental health and well-being, and worrying about their home situation or ability to access computers and internet. The world is turning upside down and teachers are feeling the effects just as much as we struggle to care for ourselves and our families, but there’s also this pressure to achieve unattainable standards. –Melanie Vega ’15, MA ’16; San Jose

Life has slowed down. I am currently working from home with my spouse, and our dogs couldn’t be happier. –Priscilla Falter ’14, Panorama City, California

At the end of January, it was interesting to leave my home in Saigon where the virus was already taken very seriously. Everyone on the plane then was wearing masks. Entering California, it was a different story for nearly two months until awareness sunk in here. –Sue McKinney ’75, Oakland

I’ve found that the smallest kind gestures go a long way these days. Waving at a neighbor, buying an impacted friend groceries or supplies, supporting local businesses that I can’t bear to imagine going under, calling a family member I haven’t talked to in an embarrassingly long time, or just wishing a good day to someone randomly passing by seems to make a difference. –Shivangi Bhatnagar ’14, Long Beach, California

Never in my life have I seen a grocery store with no paper products, no meat, no produce, no eggs, whole categories of foods just not available all at once, and not because they are some exotic thing we can no longer import. I am sad and angry that my only child, who is four years old and too young for video chats to be in any way meaningful, has no friends, no playgrounds, no activities, and no social life except for his parents. We are doing our best to manage our anxiety about money, jobs, and our family members who don’t have forever to wait for a vaccine. –Pamela Prober Trounstine ’99, San Jose

I had already been at home two weeks when my husband’s job moved home after Santa Clara County’s shelter-in-place order, the first in the nation, went into effect. I’ve sewn homemade masks. I’ve picked our tangerine tree clean of fruit and taken several small boxes to a local food bank. (Please do the same if you have a harvest.) I’ve communicated with relatives in Italy, some of whom are in the medical profession and are on the front lines of their war against COVID-19. I have a close friend in Connecticut at home with COVID-19 as well, and I worry about her. She said it’s wicked—you feel like you’re on the mend, and then it comes back the next day. –Louise Leck ’11, Fremont, California

In part due to the virus, my nonprofit New Plaza Cinema, which brings newly released international and foreign films to the Upper West Side of Manhattan, lost its theatrical venue. Since then, we changed our business strategy to bring some of these films to our 15,000 supporters through the internet and hold virtual film Q&As with our audience through Zoom. –Norma Levy ’65, New York

My husband and I know we’re doing the right thing and our part to help save lives by staying home and helping to flatten the curve, but it’s difficult with a three-year-old who doesn’t understand why his routine has been turned upside down and why he can’t see family and friends. At the end of the day, we know this is temporary, and we are very grateful for our safety and recognize the privilege we have. –Dee Montero Iacopelli ’03, Ventura, California

For me, it’s been a moment to pause and evaluate my own changes. What I have learned, what I am ready to let go of, what I am still learning. And a lesson in finding joy and pleasure where I can. I think this is a microcosm of what’s happening at a global scale as well. –Stephanie Der ’13, Napa, California

We have been sheltering in place since early March. My husband and I pass the time doing jigsaw puzzles, quilting (me, not my husband), reading, and gardening. By the time you read this I hope we are all free to move about our neighborhoods, cities, country, and the world. –Maurine Harkness ’71, Stockton, California

It turns out that sheltering in place is something I like to do. The Cody grocery store—yup, there’s only one—is open for two geezer hours twice weekly. Our church has gone virtual, and since I still work there, I’m in our home basement making video puppet shows (I can hear people groaning!) and resource sheets for each week. –Nancy Fardelius Fees ’71, Cody, Wyoming

Despite all the interruption to our lives, we are doing OK. Mills taught me how to be forward-thinking, and I took my business remote as soon as I returned from a wedding anniversary interrupted. If this had happened when I was a resident student at Mills, I’d have chosen to hunker down (shelter in place) with all my intellectual sisters. –Victoria Frost ’80

Our likelihood of being infected is low, if I can keep myself from going to town to buy groceries. I have folded myself a bandana mask, and we’re creating a small vegetable garden using last year’s seeds. But my 85-year-old husband has had his heart surgery postponed indefinitely, and my little job with Mendocino County’s tourism bureau is gone, possibly forever. –Kathy Miller Janes ’69, Navarro, California

Click here to read more of our coronavirus coverage, including a timeline of COVID-19 at Mills, thoughts from graduating students, and alumnae poetry.