I have been home for 56 days. For twenty minutes last week, I ventured into a food store and I cannot tell you how fast I worked to get back inside my house. I do believe at one point, I was jogging through the parking lot to get to my car. I have an anxiety disorder, so my reaction will oftentimes be more emotionally elevated than others might experience. Other than that, I have not ventured into any establishment for that many days. I do drive my son to work and pick him up, but I never get out of the car for any reason. As those who visit here often, they know he has Autism and does not drive. I take a walk outside when the weather is nice for exercise, but I do so alone and use continuous social distancing. I order everything online and spray everything from the mail to the groceries my husband brings in from the store he works at. Both he and my son bag all their clothes upon arriving home from work, shower immediately and wash their hands quite often (as do we all here).
I watch with trepidation, the news stories of people demanding to get their hair cut/dyed, their nails polished and the great rush to get to the beaches where they are open. I read daily about those who are still droning on about this terrifying, new, emergent virus as “just like the flu”. I’ve noticed the “TV doctors” like Dr. Phil talk about how more people have died from smoking cigarettes (a choice) and from drowning in a pool (swimming is a choice, obviously, drowning is a result of a tragic occurrence during swimming) and other non-contagious lunacy that has NOTHING to do with COVID-19. Then again, Dr. Phil isn’t a medical doctor, so he has no right to be commenting on such things far out of his “expertise”.
At this time, I only listen to the experts, and by experts I mean Dr. Fauci pretty much. Without getting into the other “issues” going on here in the U.S. and exposing my extreme anger at things, I will say he is the only person with enough actual experience with viruses and other emergent issues that I trust in the mainstream right now. I am fortunate to live in a U.S. State with a very cognizant and caring Governor. He is going out of his way to try and protect us, despite the number of people trying to ignore his directives. He wisely does not see any need to open things up yet, as we are still on our way “up” with all the numbers and his prudence will continue to save lives. At least, those lives connected with someone actually listening to him.
The worry for people in my life who choose to continue to go out to stores for non-essential shopping is out of my control. I can worry for them, tell them I’m worried or otherwise convey my concern. There is nothing I can do to stop them. If they fall ill, I will be devastated, but I will not say “I told you so” even though I might think it. If they truly believe that the items they are out shopping for or their need to “get out of the house” is greater than their health and safety, I’m sure that sending them an article about the countless others who have perished at “open up” rallies, attending crowded church services, and other tragic losses isn’t going to do much good. They already know and are willing to take the risk. I am of course not talking about essential trips for necessities, which many are doing with great care and concern for others.
There is absolutely no guarantee that my son or my husband won’t bring the virus home in some way. They encounter hundreds of customers a day, many openly mocking the existence of this virus or in one case, two men took off their masks in my son’s register line a few weeks ago, before the mandatory mask edict came out, and coughed on each other, cackling and laughing while slapping each other on the back. You really can’t make this stuff up. I think about that when a family member of mine, a nurse, isolated at home for two weeks, who waited to see if they contracted COVID-19 from the patient and doctor in the room with them tested positive (thankfully, they did not). Did those two men care or wonder if my son lived with someone with an underlying medical condition or maybe had one himself? I’m sure you have your own examples of what you’ve seen, read or heard over the past many weeks of the selfish madness many exhibit.
In the meantime, I am extremely grateful that I CAN stay home. I cannot and will not dismiss the economic concerns that countless millions have. I believe that the drive to open things back up are extremely connected to the government’s inability to properly address this crisis for many months now and inadequate assistance at the Federal and State level. Many botched attempts by states to process unemployment insurance claims, the slow response of stimulus checks that will barely fund one month’s mortgage for millions, lack of universal health care, inability for many to pay for adequate food, and a large list of problems that desperate people are encountering every day. These are real issues that people deal with every day and will continue to do so for some time, if the experts are correct. While millions were forced to stay home, essential workers, from frontline medical personnel to delivery, retail, food and other industry workers have borne the brunt of keeping things going, constantly being exposed and dealing with not wanting to expose their loved ones to this horror.
In the end, the ONLY thing I can do to “do my part” is to STAY HOME. As some states release extremely small segments of the workforce and people stampede right over it, thinking things are back to normal, we are going to see a huge spike in infections and deaths. Even if Dr. Fauci hadn’t repeatedly told everyone that this would happen, it seems some people aren’t heeding the call. Pictures of packed beaches, salons and other non-essential businesses are showing up online. In the end, the responsibility LIES WITH ME. I could be exposed and probably will be at some point, but I will hold my head high and say I did my part because my life, the life of my children and family matter more than a new shade of color on my nails, or on my hair. I’m not going anywhere anyway…