It began last Wednesday, March 11th. The Prime Minister of Denmark announced that all schools were to close due to COVID-19. If you could work from home, do. The virus had taken a hold of Denmark.
Did not start great.
Claire was very upset there was no school. She was even more upset when I told her it was canceled for the next 12 days. Avery wasn’t too upset. I think she was more upset because her sister was acting so sad.
But I promised the girls we would have a fun day. I printed off worksheets for them to do. Lots of coloring and painting for Avery. Problem solving and math for Claire. We put together unicorn Aquabeads, played games and had a dance party in the evening. Avery also managed to change her outfit six times throughout the day.
Denmark didn’t have the best day either. Storm Laura was also making its way across the country. It brought strong winds that closed down the large bridges that connect Sweden and Denmark and some of Denmark’s islands. We even had some graupel at one point.
There was also hoarding, or hamstring (in Danish). The government had warned NOT to do this but obviously a few folks decided not to listen. Bread, milk and yeast were the most picked over items. Due to this hoarding, the Danish government decided to restrict the release of drugs from pharmacies. This is to prevent needed medicines from being hoarded and running out for those who desperately need them.
Emergency day cares were set up for parents who had to work in essential jobs.
The government was also beginning to work on legislation to help the economy. There were discussions to issue subsidies to businesses to help avoid massive layoffs of employees. New laws were being made to try and slow the spread of the virus.
Denmark also imposed restrictions to travel to the United States after the US imposed restrictions on most of Europe. Denmark pretty much said all travel should be avoided.
The numbers on Day 1: 674 infected, 0 deaths.
The home front was a little less crazy. We again played with Aquabeads, printed worksheets, worked on activity books, painted nails and played the game Twister (I won) and Spot It. It was also a gorgeous day so we went for a bike ride. The girls also played outside in the leftover rain puddles. All in all…it was a good day.
The Denmark government was starting to come up with new laws and all were expected to be enacted. I’ve translated it the best I can but some information may be lost in translation. The Danish government can now:
- Force isolation or vaccination
- Cancel public events
- Close or restrict access to public institutions
- Close educational institutions
- Override patient rights
- Limit public transportation
- Restrict or limit visitors to nursing homes and hospitals
- Enforce rules to ensure supply of goods
- Expropriate private property
I believe these laws are only in enforcement for a certain amount of time but I can’t recall how long.
Officials in a press conference (which now happen every day) admitted they were too optimistic Denmark would miss the virus. They regretted not acting faster before community spread was detected. Therefore, it was determined that Denmark must go from a containment strategy to a mitigation strategy; the “flatten the curve” strategy that is well known across the world now. It was also announced that only the severely sick would be tested for the virus to free up hospital employees and prevent spreading the virus within hospitals. A drive through test center had been set up in Aarhus but you could only go if recommended by your practitioner.
The border was closed on Saturday at noon. Danish citizens were allowed in as well as goods and medicines. Without a valid excuse, foreigners would be turned away.
The numbers on Day 2: 801 infected, 0 deaths.
We decided to escape the confines of the house and go to the beach in the afternoon. It was sunny but windy and cold. The high was only in the mid 40s (°F). But hey, the sun was shining!
We had a good time. I was freezing but the girls were bundled up in their snowsuits and winter gear. Claire ran around the beach, jumping in puddles and finding shells. Avery dug in the sand and tried to build a sandcastle with gloves. The husband drove his RC car. I soaked in the rays and listened to the ocean.
We weren’t the only ones who had thought to run away to the beach but most Danes were staying to themselves and keeping a good distance between each other.
After a good hour or two, we made our way into the coastal town. We saw the ferry that was no longer running due to the border closing. The husband also found a fish market with smoked salmon (it was delicious). I found local honey.
We stopped at the grocery store to pick up milk and bread and headed home.
Another press conference brought more details about the coronavirus. Most of the infected were believed to have been related to a popular skiing resort in Austria. It explained why many of the infected were in their 40s.
The first death was reported in Denmark from the virus. Hundreds had been turned away from the border. Some young adults had also been found to have spread the virus through a game of beer pong.
But it wasn’t all bad news. The health department had asked for medical volunteers to sign up to help with the influx of patients expected over the next several weeks to months. Over 1,700 had signed up to assist. They were medical students in their final years, those who were retired and the unemployed with a medical background. Awesome!
The numbers on Day 3: 827 infected, 2 deaths.
Sunday I ran to the school to pick up Claire’s packet of homework she was expected to do over the next two weeks. The school had crafted an online program and I needed to get the paper stuff before it started on Monday (a million thanks to the mom who picked it up for me Thursday). I also stopped at the grocery store which was pretty well stocked. Some shelves were empty but it definitely wasn’t aisles of empty shelves.
Back at home, we spent the day playing, making St. Patrick’s Day crafts and wearing swimsuits (Avery). That night, we enjoyed Frozen 2 and I still know all the words to the soundtrack.
Germany closed its borders while Denmark’s other neighbor, Sweden, remained open. It was expected that further restrictions were to be announced in the coming days. The government was also still putting together a proposal to boost the economy and prevent major layoffs. Italy’s death count was starting to trickle in too. Sunday it was 368 dead in Italy from the virus in 24 hours.
The numbers on Day 4: 864 infected, 3 deaths.
Claire and I both missed the classroom. We had a few bugs to figure out. Claire thought she could say no to everything. I had to remind her that this was schoolwork and she was expected to do it. One particular assignment sent her to the corner crying. Ooooffff!
Avery learned about cats and rabbits. The resources we used were from Scholastic learning and Pinterest.
After homeschooling, we went out to roller skate. The girls also started work on a food truck (still a work in progress).
And the BEST thing of all? A Easter care package from Grandma arrived!! The girls got lots of Easter candy, a book and activity. The grownups even received some candy and saltine crackers (for the husband). Next time, Grandma is sending jalapeno Cheetos.
Numbers from Italy continued to come in. Around 350 deaths in 24 hours. All religious ceremonies in Denmark were to be postponed until Easter or later. The European Union introduced a 30 day entrance ban on travelers to slow the spread of the virus. The Danish border had rejected over 500 people from the borders over the weekend. The mitigation strategy was still in effect but due to WHO recommendations, an average of 600 were being tested per day. The spread needed to be followed and it was possible, Denmark was only in week one or two in to this pandemic.
The numbers on Day 5: 914 infected, 62 hospitalized, 3 deaths.
Elearning went better. Claire was in the swing of it and completed all her work in about two hours.
Avery continued with crafts and other learning resources I had found online.
We went for a walk along the stream in our town making sure to stay away from anyone passing by. We even ventured to the small playground but left as soon as someone else showed up.
We dyed our hair with hair chalk, wore green and even watched the Cedar Falls Library do a live story time on Facebook.
A BIG press conference was held. It was announced earlier in the day and well…the hoarders hit the stores again. There was a rumor that a complete lock down was going to be announced. But this did end up just being a rumor.
What ended up happening is stricter measures were put in place but not a curfew.
The new restrictions until March 30th:
- gathering must be under 10 people
- all gyms and sport facilities must close
- hair salons, tattoo parlors, etc must close
- restaurants, bars and cafes must close; but take way will be allowed
- malls and department store must close; drive up will be allowed
- food stores and pharmacies must STAY open BUT employees must be 4 square meters from costumers and use gloves if possible
It was enforced that numbers will continue to rise and the healthcare will be taxed if people do not take this seriously. A two meter distance must be kept. Social distancing must be used.
To enforce this even more, Queen Margrethe II spoke. This was historic as the queen or king typically only speaks on New Years Eve. This was the first time since World War II (I believe) royalty have spoken outside of the New Year speech broadcast.
The queen spoke in harsh words. She urged Danes to keep their distance. That birthdays and parties must be canceled. That it is “mindless and ruthless” to not social distance. She went on the thank all those working in the heath field, grocery stores and the truck drivers.
The numbers on Day 6: 977 infected, 82 hospitalized, 4 deaths.
Elearning went well again. Claire did many more hands on/creative activities. She built a “robot” out of recyclable materials, made a civilization she called “Ghostland”, painted with nature and made a sign about recycling on Canva. Her elearning lasted past lunch.
Avery was a little more difficult. She was tired of our routine and wanted to do something else. Luckily, her teacher sent her a project just in time so she was able to make an owl. I also found a big empty box and she pasted it with stickers and said it was her new bed.
They spent the rest of the afternoon playing outside, drawing with Mo Willems and playing together inside. I even taught Claire how to play solitaire. They went to bed together. Their third slumber party of the week.
The Ministry of Justice set fines for violating the new laws enacted by the prime minister the night before. Fines would also increase for repeat offenders. The Director of the National Board of Health then spoke. He said that there are young and old coming in to the hospital and that it is too soon to release the age distribution. They are mapping respirators throughout the country. They fear the biggest challenge will be staff capacity and not equipment shortages. Testing is now up to 1000 people per day. Experts believed it is unlikely institutions will be allowed to open in two weeks like planned. The Ministers for Business and Finance are working on details to keep businesses safe (a lot of details and numbers that I don’t understand).
The numbers on Day 7: 1057 infected, 129 hospitalized, 4 deaths.
So there it is. One week in Denmark with the virus sweeping the world. We have thought about going back to the USA but things developed so rapidly we now feel safer here. Flights are hard to find and the risk of getting infected will likely be higher if we get on an airplane and travel through packed airports. Therefore, our family will be staying put in Denmark.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. We have no family here to rely on. But we do have friends and a wonderful international community. We are following all the rules set in place by the CDC, WHO and Danish government.
Homeschooling and isolation will be hard for my outgoing girls who miss their friends dearly. They continue to find my buttons and push them. Send wine and Cheetos.
However, we are healthy. I pray it continues that way.