We started to grasp the severity of the COVID-19 situation about halfway through a Thursday night shift. It was March 12, and I was on the takeout register at the Los Angeles Vietnamese restaurant where I've worked for the past two years. Our busser had been coughing heavily for about a month, and now he was visibly sweating. "I think I have to go home," he said. At that point, I was naive enough to think he could get tested and treated. He nodded and left.
News came to us in fragments. One table mentioned the NBA had just ended its season; another was frantic about the European travel ban. I began making a list of food and non-perishables to get from the grocery store. We laughed at my scattered list and our utter confusion, still unsure where this all was going.