If you aren’t already, it’s time to treat the coronavirus pandemic seriously. Stay away from people you don’t live with, wash your hands, cough into a tissue or your elbow if needed, call a doctor if you have symptoms. Our actions this week, maybe before anyone you know has been diagnosed, will make all the difference. Read this article before you or your kids go anywhere: this is not a snow day! [Update: Still headed outside? Or worried you have it? Read this: 11 things everyone should know about getting coronavirus.]
On the other hand, we can use this as an opportunity to connect and build new skills even as we hunker down at home. Read on for tips on doing that and for staying close despite everything, plus a cartoon and a video with tiny horses! In case you missed it, here’s last week’s suggestions for stocking your pantry.
One of my favorite comics, XKCD, captures my concern about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and the world in general.
When you hover your mouse over it, this pops up:
I actually came in in the middle so I don’t know which topic we’re briefing on; the same slides work for like half of them.
Exactly. We have a serious threat that people can avert, but they aren’t paying attention. Without making relatively mild changes during the early stages of the problem, it will get exponentially worse. By the time we can no longer ignore it, we’re in a hellscape. The virus wreaks havoc over a matter of days, not decades, so the human mind is better able to react to it than to climate change, biodiversity loss, or bad diets. But evidently it is too slow for my neighbors who threw a big, contagious-spreading party last night.
Because the virus is virtually invisible and people can be contagious for days before getting symptoms, if they ever do, people feel safe when they are not. Dads in my neighborhood are shaking hands while their kids wrestle for a frisbee. My county school system kept schools open through Friday, until our governor closed them state-wide, because kids usually only get mild symptoms. Mild if the kids have asthma or other health issues. What the school system didn’t mention was that these kids would head home to spread it to their parents, who might go to work, church, or a packed airport. Particularly in lower-income families, kids often live with grandparents either as their main caregivers or as part of multi-generation families. Grandparents or older relatives who live elsewhere may babysit or score a visit. Older people are more likely to require hospitalization or a funeral if they catch the coronavirus.
Let’s rise together as a community in the face of this threat
I hope you took my advice last week and stocked up. I’d hoped to be done earlier in the week, but Whole Foods shelved my bulk order instead of calling me, so I couldn’t make my last store run until Friday morning. I’m counting on the wonderful Beth of Wild Onion Farms for fresh veg during her weekly CSA drops on my back porch. If you are in Raleigh, check out her drop-off locations. If not, consider joining a Community Supported Agriculture program in your area.
If you have events planned, please consider reaching out to cancel or reschedule. Flattening the curve so that that disease ramps up more slowly will help keep the medical system from getting overwhelmed and reduce the death rate. I spent most of the week canceling everything from birthday gatherings to environmental workshops to cooking classes. Alas! March and April were set to be my busiest months in years. It’s hard to go against social and business norms like this, but most people will be grateful that you took the first step. Please be gracious about rescheduling if you are asked to do so.
Use alternative ways to stay in touch. When I sent out a notice delaying a series of Drawdown workshops, Mike Rulison suggested that we use Zoom to have an online gathering instead. He let us use his account and suggested a test call for the facilitators before the full meeting. Everything went like a charm, with a real sense of sharing and connection. The participants liked it so much we’re going to do it next week! This inspired me to set up other online meetings for my book club. I also set up a Google spreadsheet so our book club can request or offer help.
- You can use Zoom, Facetime, or Google Hangouts or other programs to stay in touch from the comfort of your own bunker.
- Meet in a park and have a well-spaced walk or yoga session together (six feet apart minimum, please!)
- Call, email, or use social media to stay in touch
Look at this example of neighborhood creativity from Dr. Elizabeth Sawin, one of my favorite people on Twitter:
If I start feeling too housebound, I’m going to ask friends to meet outside for tea and cheer from afar!
You don’t need hugs to be close, as lovely as they are
This forced separation reminds me of my beloved Aunt Evelyn. She lived in Burbank, near Los Angeles, and I live in North Carolina. She didn’t want to face being old, so she would never let me visit her in person. (She was a tigress from the Mad Men era, working at Paramount Studios in LA. At ninety-two, she complained that no one called her a sex kitten anymore!) She wanted someone in her life to think of her as young and beautiful. We talked on the phone about once a week. I sent her flowers, books, and videos. She sent elegant sweaters and insightful political commentary. I researched nursing homes and ventilators online. She told family stories. On holidays, I used Yelp to find restaurants that would deliver her favorite meals, then we’d chat after she’d eaten. We were close despite decades of coast-to-coast separation. I’ll always be grateful to my cousin, who hugged her in person and helped with the got-to-be-there parts of life. In turn, I try to help out people near me.
Still need more inspiration? Check out this adorable video and sound advice from Arnold Schwarzenegger, with two little horses! If you have other ideas, please share in the comment below or on my Facebook post for this topic.
Stay at home as much as possible. Listen to the experts, ignore the morons (foreheads). We will get through this together. pic.twitter.com/FRg41QehuB
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) March 16, 2020