Friday, October 23, 2020

Coronavirus Update 10-23-2020: Please stop telling me that we all just need to get on with living our lives

Earlier this week, I posed what I thought was a simple question on the private Facebook page of my community's homeowners' association: given the current rise of COVID-19 cases, should we, as a community, rethink our trick-or-treating plans. It was intended to start a generative discussion about whether we can host public trick-or-treating safely, but it quickly devolved into insults and name-calling.

The general theme of my pro-Halloween opponents was some combination of—if you don’t feel safe stay home in your basement; and we need to live our lives. People felt comfortable expressing this opinion even after others had commented about family members COVID-19 had killed. 

People need to stop correlating COVID-19 safety measures with a restriction on their ability to "live their lives." We are in the midst of a pandemic stemming from a highly contagious airborne virus. The pandemic is not getting better. In fact, it's getting worse as we are just at the beginning of the second wave of this deadly virus. More than 220,000 Americans have died, and countless more have suffered the loss of a loved one, or are continuing to suffer the lasting and lingering effects of a virus that we still don't fully understand. The numbers are getting worse (health experts use the ominous word deterioration), and we are in for a long and difficult winter as we battle COVID-19's second wave.

You living your life is stopping me from living mine.

My family has been very cautious with this virus. For the first two months of "living with Covid" we stayed in our home. We had groceries delivered. We only met with people from outside of our home on Zoom. We did not even order takeout. Seven months later my wife and I are both still working from home full-time.

As we entered summer, however, we started to slowly branch out. I started going to the grocery store in person. We ordered takeout from our favorite restaurants. (I scratched some off the list after seeing employees not wearing masks.) Every now and then we started grabbing a glass of wine outside at our favorite local wine bar, have enjoyed a few nights of live outdoor music at the wine bar, have entertained family and friends outside on our deck in small groups, and, in August sent our children back to school. For us, this is living our lives. 

Others views of living their lives is quite different. They have large parties, visit restaurants and bars, and attend huge social gatherings. Moreover, as COVID fatigue sets in after seven months of limitation and restriction, people are getting lazier with maintaining distancing and wearing masks. 

In short, a lot of people aren't doing the things we all need to do to battle back this deadly virus. And because of it, I'm being forced back deeper into my comfort zone, my bubble. 

Maybe I'm resentful. People out "living their lives" may not get sick at all, and I'm being hyper-cautious and I or my family still might. 

Or maybe I don't understand the appearance of selfishness and callousness—that you care more about your own life than that of your fellow human beings. That it's more important to you to host that large party at your home or fill your kid's sack with bits of candy, than to ensure that you don't spread a deadly virus around our community.

The reality is that we can still beat back this virus. Science is in agreement with the simple steps we need to take. 
  1. Wear masks. 
  2. Maintain physical distance. 
  3. Wash your hands. 
  4. Stay home if you're sick. 
These measures are not complicated. But I also understand that simple does not equate to easy. It's going to be a long fall and winter, especially in climates like Ohio's, where we will be forced indoors for several months. But if we continue to ignore basic health and safety measures, COVID-19 will continue to thrive, more people will get sick and die, and people "living their lives" will continue to either jeopardize mine or force me into full-time hermit mode. 

So today I am imploring everyone to think about others in addition to thinking about yourselves. When this virus I over (and one day it will be over), I will not have any regrets over how I lived my life. Will you be able to say the same?