As New Zealand starts to settle back into some form of normality, the USA is still seeing daily cases of coronavirus increase. Grace and Joe Seko share with us their experience of living in a Covid-19 hot spot. 

The couple and their six children live in San Francisco, which on March 16 became the first US city to have a ‘stay-at-home’ order.

Three months later the State of California has had almost 160,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and over 5,000 deaths. San Francisco has had just under 3,000 confirmed cases and 45 deaths.

San Francisco has started to relax some of their restrictions around gatherings with more ‘essential’ businesses are now starting to open.

The Sekos cannot remember the last time they’ve ever seen Central Freeway in San Francisco so free flowing instead of bumper to bumper.

“You can actually see the road now, there’s also less pollution as you drive around our city and more people are walking and biking,” says Grace Seko.

The Seko family who all regularly wear face masks and follow strict hygiene rules admit they’re lucky to all be healthy. But a close family friend wasn’t so lucky and tested positive for Covid-19.

“She’s a nurse and is asymptomatic, thankfully she has recovered, but it was a worrying time for us all.”

The pandemic has affected their income with Grace, a customer services agent for United Airlines having to take leave from her job.  

“I’m on leave for about 3-6 months, because I work at the international gates, the risk of infection is much higher.”

The couple own and operate a party rental business which also took a hit due to the pandemic.

“We’ve had to cancel all of our events or postpone them until the end of the year or next year, that has been a hard adjustment.” 

Like many around the world the Seko family watched through the media as the Coronavirus outbreak took its toll on the world.

A recent trip to the hospital to get their 4-month-old child’s immunisation shots showed the couple the seriousness of the virus and how much medical visits have changed.

Hospitals in their state only allow for one adult to accompany their child and everyone must wear a face mask and keep to the 6ft (1.8m) social distancing rule. 

 “Once you’re checked into the hospital, the receptionist hands you a piece of paper to give to the elevator attendant. The crazy part is they [attendant] press the elevator buttons for you, open the doors for you, continue to remind you of the 6ft distance and that you’re not allowed to touch any surface in the hospital.” 

The Sekos have five school-aged children who have also had to adjust to finding their own space at home to attend their daily school Zoom classes.

“As parents it has been overwhelming with five kids in different grades of schooling and keeping them entertained, but they’re starting to understand how the world has changed.”

The Seko family admit they were constantly on the go, but now they can finally enjoy family time. The couple have even taken some online classes to help their business when they’re able to operate again. 

But if there is one positive they’ve taken from this, Grace says, “the pandemic has taught us to stop and smell the roses and enjoy our planet.”