News & Politics

My Life in DC’s Coronavirus Era: Rick Tyler

A new feature about how people around Washington are adjusting to our new reality.

Rick Tyler handles all mail and packages with surgical gloves, and sprays it down with Lysol. Photo courtesy of Rick Tyler.
Coronavirus 2020

About Coronavirus 2020

Washingtonian is keeping you up to date on the coronavirus around DC.

Rick Tyler is a political and communications consultant who served as the national spokesman for Senator Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign. He is also an MSNBC political analyst.

First, can you describe how concerned you are about coronavirus?

My wife, Tamara, and I are both very concerned especially for seniors and those most vulnerable to having serious complications as a result of being infected. We both have parents who are in their 70’s and 80’s. My father is already battling cancer, so we worry about him the most.

When and how did you first became convinced that coronavirus was something that would require you to change up your daily routine? 

In keeping up with current events, I first became concerned in mid-February by watching the daily new case numbers from around the world. By the first week of March, I thought it wise to stock up. At that point, I thought we’d be in the midst of a shopping panic but we were about a week and a half early.

Can you walk me through your current daily routine, taking care to note the specific ways that you’ve changed your routine as a precaution against coronavirus?

The most important thing is to not have contact with others. So late in the second week of March, my wife and I just decided to stay home. We had plenty of provisions by then and we had a full tank of propane and a generator in case we were to lose power. We have hunting rifles, shotguns, and lots of ammo in case it gets really bad, which we don’t expect but we are prepared if we have to hunt for food.

The second most important thing is to stay healthy in general, making sure to keep our immune systems strong, so we’ve been more regimented about taking supplements like probiotics, curcumin, and vitamins. We also eat lots of onions and garlic.

We have N-95 masks in case there is a need. We have surgical gloves which I use to process the mail and packages that arrive. We also leave packages on the deck for at least three hours before handling with gloves. Then I spray everything down with Lysol before opening everything outside, finally disposing of the boxes and envelopes. Only what’s in the boxes and envelopes comes into the house.

We also call our loved ones and urge them to take this pandemic seriously. My wife calls and checks on friends particularly those who are most vulnerable.

What do you like best about your new routine?

There is much more time for eating, reading, spending time together, and working out. I have to say we are eating very well during this trial. I work at home but I’ve had more time to spend editing my new book coming out in August. I’m also catching up on projects like fence repair. I don’t miss the traffic and I’m saving lots of money on gas and tolls.

What do you miss most about your old routine? 

I simply miss being with family and friends.

Have school closures affected your children yet? If so, how do you plan to manage child care?

My daughter is grown, so we are empty nesters. My daughter is a first-year teacher so her school is shut down. I’m very proud that she is helping the parents of her second-grade students to keep learning while home.  The same is true for my wife, Tamara, who is a preschool teacher. Her school is also shut down and she is helping the parents so her kids don’t fall behind.

Given the current state of uncertainty, are there any items—canned goods or bottled water, for example—that you’ve been stocking up on as a precaution?

We have stocked up on frozen meats, vegetables, canned goods, pastas, rice, and beans. We have about 40 gallons of drinking water, a full propane tank, gas for the generator, and plenty of ammo.

What advice would you give to someone else who is accustomed to working in an office but now has to work from home?

Find a quiet place in your house without distractions and go there like you are going to work. Show up on time and stay until work is done. Give yourself some transition time before leaving work so you can be engaged fully with your family and not still be in work mode.  But it’s great to be able to just go to the kitchen and have lunch with your family and the commute to and from work is a lot shorter and less hectic.

Are there other work-related things that you’ve done—canceling trips or turning down speaking engagements, for instance—as a precaution against coronavirus?

I’ve not had to cancel any trips but I’m not accepting speaking engagements for the near future. I will be doing a book tour if all goes well in August but we will have to wait and see it that is going to be feasible.


Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.