I hope I don’t come down with Covid-19. A few years ago, I had pneumonia after an upper respiratory infection, and at age 59, I’m a prime target for this new disease that I’ve heard came from a dead snake in a meat market in far off China.

My wife, Carol, and I just returned from one of the most spectacular vacations we’ve ever taken — four nights in Las Vegas, with trips to Hoover Dam, Death Valley, Zion National Park and the Valley of Fire, before cruising through the Mojave National Preserve to Southern California to see my family for almost a week.

The whole time, news of the Corona virus continued to spread. It didn’t help that Carol had developed a hacking cough before we left Ohio March 1. She arrived at my father’s house with a sore throat and a voice like a frog just as news of the epidemic was spreading.

Day by day, the news got worse. First, they closed northern Italy, and then the rest of the country. Cruise ships were quarantined. Next, I got word that schools out here in Ohio were taking an early, extended spring break.

Then I got notice that our office was going to remote status — I would be working from home when I returned to Ohio. I gave serious consideration to remaining in California. Why not? I would just be a little more remote.

We arrived home in Cleveland around 5:30 a.m. Friday and caught a shuttle to our car, parked in a hotel a few miles from the airport. 

It wasn’t until I stuck my thumb into my nose, prompted by an irritation, that I realized that the shuttle bus driver had not been wearing gloves when he grabbed everyone’s bags by the handles to load them up. Thank God it was his early morning shift, and not one at the end of his day.

At some point, sports were canceled. Then, on Sunday, Gov. Mike DeWine closed the restaurants and bars.

That news came as I made my second trip to the grocery store since returning to Ohio.

On the first trip, my attention was drawn to the empty display where dozens of 5 pound bags of potatoes are usually stocked for sale.

Whaaaat?

All the chicken and hamburger was gone as well, along with the cheap butter. Hoarders even bought all the cheap charcoal.

Incredulously, I spoke out loud, "Charcoal? It’s not even April!"

I got a chunk of corned beef and the last big bag of potatoes, some beer, cabbage and mustard and went home to cook.

The second trip was in a different town, on my way back from seeing our kids and grandkids in Cuyahoga Falls.

The potatoes were also gone there, along with the hamburger, paper products and other staples. I bought a nice rack of ribs, a jar of pickles and some other goods and got in line behind two people pushing heavy carts full of groceries. Behind me, another shopper was waiting with at least 30 pounds of pork stacked on top of her overloaded cart.

I only had a little basket, so I gave her the stink eye and moved ahead when she tried to cut in front of me when they opened another lane.

Now, from my bedroom office, I’m stuck with the task of how to explain all of this.

I’ve got two weeks of e-mailed announcements about events that are all likely canceled. Some have sent word that their gatherings have been rescheduled, postponed, or otherwise not taking place, and it seems that everything, pretty much, is shut down.

Since I’m back to try and deal with all of the correspondence that may not have made it through my colleagues’ hands while I’ve been gone, I’d suggest readers contact the organizers of every event they may wish to attend from this point forward.

It’s been almost 20 years since Carol and I were on vacation in September, when we watched planes crash into the World Trade Center in New York on television. Our drive back home from Put-in-Bay was remarkable for the lack of aircraft in the sky, and the lack of conversation at every gas station and rest stop along the way.

It’s going to be interesting to see how people deal with this crisis, when there will be far fewer people to talk to in person.

My guess is, the toilet paper trucks will make their deliveries this week, so most of us will do well.

We should also keep in mind those who will be forced to deal with this disease, along with their families, as none of us are truly alone.

Eric Marotta can be reached at 330-541-9433, or emarotta@recordpub.com.