Isolation in the Middle of the Ocean

Girl in mask with right hand on painted water buffalo

Our family is stationed on a naval base in Guam, a small island located in the Northern Marianas. This little island doesn’t normally feel isolated, but as soon as COVID-19 hit and everything shut down, it became a scarily isolating place. Stores, businesses, and everything on base closed.

People were only allowed to leave their homes for essential work and to walk pets. Our house was located 30 feet from where COVID positive sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt were being quarantined. People in hazmat suits would walk between the houses of the sailors for routine checks multiple times a day and guards were posted on the roads to stop people from going near the homes. At one point, I was walking my dog and was screamed at by healthcare workers for being too close to the houses. These same healthcare workers were shocked to see my house was directly next to these houses, and I had no choice but to pass those that were infected on a daily basis. Since then, those sailors have left but the base has stayed in a continual modified lockdown. Children were taught virtually from March to October, the multiple lines to enter the commissary make grocery trips exponentially longer, and shipments of necessities are few and far between. With this being said, the base has worked effortlessly to make our lives as nice as possible. They have offered weekend drive-in movies in a socially-distanced environment, hosted regular virtual and drive-thru events, and everyone’s effort to abide by the rules have allowed for more and more activities to take place. COVID-19 changed all our lives in good and bad ways, but experiencing quarantine on an island that’s 30 miles long and 8 miles wide for almost a year is something I will never forget.