News & Politics

My Life in DC’s Coronavirus Era: Susan Glasser

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

Susan Glasser's home office. Photograph courtesy Susan Glasser.
Coronavirus 2020

About Coronavirus 2020

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

Susan Glasser is a Washington-based staff writer at the New Yorker.

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


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

Never heard of “social distancing” before a few weeks ago. Our friend Alan Cooperman of the Pew Research Center was very on top of this and starting in late January giving us a crash course in pandemics. We’re all reading The Great Influenza, by John Barry, about the 1918 flu now.

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?

These seem in a way like questions from the Pleistocene era of say, last week. Absolutely everything is shut down around here now. It’s a work day and all the cars on my block are here, there is no traffic, everything is canceled. So: the entire routine is upended. I think it’s still important to have a schedule: get up before 8, have everyone eat meals together (at least lunch and dinner).

What do you like best about your new routine?

Everyone is at home together. Love seeing people out on walks in a usually empty neighborhood during the week. Great not to have to wake up at 6:30 AM to get my son up for school.

What do you miss most about your old routine?

DC is a social place. It’s hard not to go anywhere to meet people, or to restaurants, or even to interviews in person. Our friends have proposed a video cocktails on Friday night, we’ll see how that works.

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

All schools are now closed, with a teenager who is a sophomore in high school, I believe the challenge is not so much child care as making sure he actually showers and does something other than watch Netflix.

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?

Yes for sure. Just came from the grocery store; after a few waves of panic buying, the store has almost no meat, no bread, no toilet paper left. But I didn’t have to wait. My husband has been ordering wine on the Internet.

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

Don’t forget to go outside.

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

Everything is canceled—the question now is whether it will ever start back up again. Hard even to envision what the post-pandemic world will look like. Maybe we will stop having so many conferences and panel discussions. Or maybe we will find that we missed them so much, we have even more. . . .

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.