Editor’s note: This is the first installment in The Virus Diaries, a series in which Mainers talk about how they are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Physical isolation doesn’t bother Lizette Deschenes. She has hundreds of books and movies in her apartment in Turner, and also likes to bake and cook.

“I am scared to death of going out to the grocery store and pharmacy,” says Lizette Deschenes of Turner. Submitted photo

So she’s on board with hunkering down. What makes her anxious, amid the coronavirus outbreak, is the world outside her apartment.

“I am scared to death of going out to the grocery store and pharmacy,” she wrote in an email to the Portland Press Herald on Saturday. “I am 67 years old, am in stage 3 kidney failure, having high blood pressure and am pre-diabetic. I have other conditions which I don’t think would affect me.”

Deschenes had remained in her apartment for the previous six days.

“Some people don’t care about social distancing or about the virus,” she wrote. “This is one reason I haven’t left my apartment. I feel paralyzed by fear. I need a comforting voice to help me leave long enough to pick up groceries and medications.”


Sunday brought her some measure of comfort. After getting a heads-up from a Press Herald employee, a friend who had lived in Turner connected Deschenes with a local woman who took care of the grocery shopping and dropped off the food.

Deschenes also took advantage of the sunny weather to go outside for a few hours, first walking around the parking lot and then settling into a chair on the back patio. A neighbor also came out.

“It took a lot of courage for me to stay outside,” Deschenes said by phone on Monday. “I made sure we were six feet apart. We talked about a lot of different things. It felt good to talk to someone and see one of my friends.”

Since moving to her 24-unit apartment building seven years ago, Deschenes has become friendly with many of her fellow residents. They played Bingo on Tuesday nights and met for coffee on Fridays. Now they no longer gather in common areas.

She was scheduled to go to the pharmacy on Tuesday, but called to make other arrangements for obtaining her medications.

“I’m not lonely or bored,” Deschenes said. “But the virus is very, very scary. I’m afraid to get it and die. That’s what I’m so scared of.”

Do you have a story to share about how you are affected by the coronavirus outbreak? Email us at virus@pressherald.com

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