Sunday, July 12, 2020

Is It a New World?

     Some people are acclimating themselves to the Covid-19 pandemic. They're going outside, eating at restaurants, playing sports. They've decided that the disease will be with us for a while. We can't continue living the shut-in life that we went through in April and May. And so we have to take measured risks just to live our lives.

     Others are more nervous than ever. They're realizing that over 130,000 Americans have died of the disease -- more Americans than died in the entire Vietnam war. They feel like they're playing Russian Roulette. They squeezed the trigger in April, and again in May, and it came up a blank. But how many more times can they squeeze the trigger before there's a bullet in the chamber?

     I know a few who have had the disease and survived. A 68-year-old fellow golfer was in bed for five days, then recovered. He's okay now. A couple in their 60s both had to go into the hospital. She was put on oxygen, he had to go on a ventilator. They both suffered terrible pain and fear. They, too, survived, but may suffer permanent effects.

     And the experts say we haven't yet reached the peak of even the first phase of the disease -- not to mention a second wave that may come in the fall or sometime next year.

The new normal
     So what are we doing? Some people are still in lock down. They are going out only to collect curbside pickup at the grocery store, or get takeout pizza. They're taking a walk down empty streets. But for the most part they're still staying home, closing themselves off like hermits.

     Some people are behaving selfishly. They are hoarding everything from groceries to toilet paper to hand sanitizer. Others display blatant disregard for both themselves and others. What, me worry? they say. And so they go out to parties or the beach or the amusement park and just have fun. They don't wear a mask because . . . well, it makes it hard to breathe.

     One couple in our community owns an RV. They are currently traveling out West and posting pictures on their Facebook page. Are they offering us some vicarious pleasures of their travels? Or are they just rubbing it in?

     Some people are going out of their way to be helpful. My town offers a program where people can call locked-down residents of senior living facilities to provide a friendly voice and give people news from the outside world. Some are going shopping for elderly or disabled people, or holding Zoom meetings for kids to help keep them entertained.

     Most of us are just being sensible. We go out when we have to, but stay home most of the time. I'm guessing our lawns and gardens look better this year, because we're spending time in the yard. Maybe we've used the time to clear out some clutter in the garage or basement; or we've organized our photo collection or knitted a sweater or scarf.

     Some people are thinking that our lifestyles have contributed to the problem. Are pollution, overpopulation, climate change and global warming contributing to increased pathogens and disease? Nobody really knows. We do know that less human activity associated with Coronavirus has cleared up the skies in some major metropolitan areas, at least temporarily.

     We also know that co-morbidity factors such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure can make us more vulnerable to the virus. Some people have taken this as a wake-up call to improve their lifestyles -- eat better, get more exercise, lose weight. I certainly see more people than normal walking and jogging up and down my street these days.

     Some people are trying to get creative, find new ways to do things. How many of us have learned how to Facetime or Zoom in the last few months? We have several teachers who live on our block, and they held spring classes on Google Classroom, exploring new ways to reach out to their young students using photos, games, videos.

     School administrators are trying to figure out how to hold classes in the fall. There are all manner of compromises and creative solutions being proposed. At my own Center for Learning in Retirement, we are holding all fall classes online. The good news: almost all the instructors have agreed to teach their classes online, and so far enrollment looks like it's going to be at least as good as last year, if not better.

     So where do we go next? I'm still hoping that researchers will come up with a cure or a vaccine -- and in a year or 18 months this will be but a bitter memory. My wife B thinks Covid-19 will be with us for a long time. In her opinion, we will have to learn how to adapt. Be cautious. Be safe. Wash hands. Use hand sanitizer. Wear a mask. But there are still going to be people who get sick and die. We'll have to live with the toll of Covid as a price of modern life, just as we live with the toll of crime or car accidents.

    That's why I'm at home right now, pecking away at my computer. And she is out this morning, taking a walk down to the farmer's market. It has reopened -- restricted to 50% capacity, with mandated face masks -- even though the number of new cases is rising again in our state.

26 comments:

Cop Car said...

In our own area, there are more people using the streets as their exercise venue because they do not now go to gyms. I haven't even checked to see if "my" gym is open because I wouldn't take the risk of going there if it is.

Hunky Husband and I did not gad about prior to COVID-19, so we are not as inconvenienced as some people. I buy groceries between 6 and 7 am at a small store near us; whereas, we used to buy groceries, together, at a large supermarket. I can get in and out of the small store in 15 minutes having seen perhaps one or three other shoppers; whereas, it took the both of us 20-30 minutes in a milling crowd at the supermarket.

We do miss eating lunch out during the weekend, but a couple of times each month we get takeout - usually curbside, contactless.

In the beginning, we knew it would take at least 2 or 3 years to come up with an inoculation system for the world, so we had no expectation of a quick fix.

ApacheDug said...

A great post, Tom--and I guess I'm a littls slow on the draw, I have a large window (on the 4th floor of my apt building) that looks down on the street below, and the other day I was wondering why I hadn't noticed all the joggers before. Duh.

I freely admit the virus scares me plenty--I'm on meds for high blood pressure, and some kidney issues that kept me in the hospital for awhile last year. And I've just recently been learning how painful this covid-19 can be. I also think your wife is right, this isn't going anywhere for a long while--but at the same time, I just can't see us going on living 'undercover'. Good luck to those who want (or need) to chance it.

Barb said...

Im.not quite at the hermit phase but sdmittedly close. I take drives. Go outside and so on. But I allow stores to come to me as opposed to the opposite (part of which is laziness. Not fear). None of the groups I belong to are meeting but if I had the chance for small grouo socialization I might take it. Family members are back at work with precautions and eventually I will move of course. I am with B. Plan on this being a multi year thing.

Arkansas Patti said...

I too think this will be with us for a long time and when high risk like I am, I have to toe the mark will all the precautions. I so miss my group activities and the many laughs we would share.
I think some people just have not had this hit them personally and actually don't know anyone in their circle who got it. I did have my next door neighbors get it so I am a believer. She had no symptoms but he had brutal ones. He thought he was dying and sometimes thought that might actually be best.
Have no idea how this will turn out. Just taking it one day at a time.

Celia said...

I also think this is with us for the long haul. We are an hour from the nearest big city in the next county but when our county opened up from phase one to phase two we got tons of visitors from nearby phase 1 counties and guess what, our case numbers shot straight up. Good grief people, please stay home. I am being a hermit having health issues and being 78.

Fortunately all my family members who work are still employed. No one of us has lost their jobs but the three young adults due to go away to college in the fall will be doing it online and living at home much to their disappointment.

I am hermit-ing, being high risk and 78 and I'm not enjoying it. My doc says keep it up until phase 4 and then be careful. New World. I get up early to grocery shop at a small grocery and walking around my neighborhood for exercise. My condo has a large patio so masked family members can come and sit distanced and chat at least while the weather is nice. I still love driving and there are many scenic places to drive to and park a bit.

gigi-hawaii said...

I stay home and only go out for dental and doctor appointments. Hubby shops for groceries, buys take out restaurant food, and swims at the district park.

DUTA said...

You've summed it up pretty well!
As for the 'prognosis' - Yes, we're going to have to learn to live with the virus by our side. A vaccine would come up eventually, but I'm not sure it will solve problems; more like it will create additional ones.

Janette said...

I hear you.
I am in the "we will be living like this for many years" camp. Even with a vaccine. I had measles, the measles shot and booster--and I am still not immune. Go figure.
We are on the track to move next summer.That means lots of getting rid of stuff. Much more difficult with the places I would prefer to donate to being closed. We will be driving to solidify plans in September. I am laughing because we haven't done a 2500 mile road trip since my hubby was a First Lt in 1984. I cannot wait of this! Not!
Otherwise, my husband makes all of his visits to Home Depot at 7 am and Walmart (our one "big store") shortly after. He voted at 7 am this week. I am just not "there".
I do the grocery once a week. The same cashier works the one checkstand that I use every week. So far, so good. We are seeing the grands regularly while numbers are down. I anticipate being cut off again (for my own good) in Nov or Dec.
Wish I could go to the beach- but everyone else is there. Wish my grands could go to school- but everyone not at the beach will be there. It is what it is.
If I can live in Saudi Arabia for 18 months- I can do mask, duck and cover for a few years. Just another click in the experience wheel!

Tom said...

Sigh. It seems that, once again, more people agree with my wife than they do with me. Does this mean we'll never be able to go to the movies again?

Janis said...

Although this virus is unique in many ways, there is hope that (in addition to a vaccine) it will slowly mutate down to something less lethal like others have. In the meantime, we are mostly hanging out close to home. Gardening, writing, house projects. Truth-be-told, not that different from before. I do miss traveling and gathering with groups of friends, though.

David @iretiredyoung said...

I think the next period is going to be interesting where we live. Although it's a tourist town, we're at the end of a valley which meant there wasn't really any visitors or through traffic when lockdown came. We therefore had very few cases.
But now that things are opening up and the town is getting quite busy with both national and international visitors. I do worry that means an increase risk of a spike in infections. The USA sadly seems to be an example of what can go wrong - I hope that gets under control quickly and that other places learn the lessons from it.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that in our culture that prides itself so on scientific prowess and advanced thinking, so many have largely abandoned science entirely in favor of what feels good in the present moment. That this particular virus lies dormant with no symptoms for so long is the heart of the problem. I wish I could resume "normal" life but as long as so many are doing so irresponsibly, I guess I have to be content with a more cautious approach. I do 90% of groceries through curbside pickup and I am shocked by how much I miss grocery stores. I take walks, with mask in hand in case of close encounters. More than movies, I worry about whether we will ever be able to travel again.

Wisewebwoman said...

I'm with B. And the carelessness now will have a huge price tag. We've only had 1 case here in 47 days and it came in from Texas. But he took all precautions but we have to wait another 12 days to verify that.

I am appalled at the pub and restaurant activities,no masks no distance and well, drunk people touchy feelies.

XO
WWW

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! I actually find it fascinating how we all seem to be figuring this out on our own. Obviously it would be helpful if our government offered us a strong and careful plan to address the issue on a national level. I suspect that is one of the biggest problems our country is facing. My husband and I are remaining cautious but in our own way (Like I think we all are doing.) We do go to get groceries about once a week and take turns going in. I have gone to a couple of doctor's appointments but they tend to be very careful and have felt totally safe there. We have gone to eat out at a couple of outdoor restaurants where all servers are wearing masks and sit at tables away from others. But no movies, no haircuts, no nails! no indoor bars or restaurants. The good news is we are staying in a mountain community with LOTS of hiking and very pleasant to sit outside on a patio so I don't see that changing any time soon. Meanwhile, I hope and pray for a vaccine sometime in the next 6-12 months because I REALLY want to resume travel. I am also hoping an praying for a BIG change in governmental leadership that can help us through the deep changes this virus causing in our economy and world. ~Kathy

Rian said...

To be honest, Tom, I don't really care much what anyone says or mandates. Common sense tells me to be cautious, wash my hands, wear a mask, avoid crowds, don't eat out - not even take-out as who knows what goes on behind closed doors. No haircuts (I cut his and mine is getting long). If my family were working at home, I would see them, but they work in hospitals with Covid patients and thus, avoid bringing anything to DH and myself. We do Skype. And I'm not really fearful... just think this is the smart thing to do. DH just had radiation for cancer and I'm a cancer survivor, so why take the risk? It is what it is... and for however long it takes, we can handle it.

DJan said...

Although hubby and I are elderly (late seventies) we have no co-morbidities, but we still both got the virus in late March. At least we think we did, since we both recovered and couldn't get tested. We didn't end up in the hospital, and he was much sicker than I was, with a severe cough and chest pain for a couple of weeks. But we did get better. We don't go out much, and always with masks, with are mandated in our state. I think that young people who smoke don't realize that it makes them much more susceptible to a poor outcome if they get it. I think it will be with us for a long time. :-(

Anonymous said...

All you baby boomers had to do was FREEZE the economy for 4 months. Freeze bills, rent, mortgage, taxes, and make it illegal for companies to fire their workers. You did not do this because you are greedy bastards. Now the entire Western world is going to collapse as a result. The best case scenario for you boomers is to end up in a retirement home where you will be treated like utter trash. And you deserve this. You boomers are completely evil people. The younger generation will look at your suffering with glee and joy. Just drop dead, you boomer scum!

Anonymous said...

Boomers are not 'greedy bastards' as you suggested. They do not dictate the actions you suggested to save the 'entire Western world'. The younger generation will not all look at the boomers' suffering 'with glee and joy' as many of them are full of love and respect for their elders instead of hate as you.

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Madeline Kasian said...

We're being uber cautious.My husband goes back and forth about being comfortable driving too far, as he feels if we had a mishap they hospitals here in Arizona are almost full and we would not be able to get care. So our weekly drives to the lakes are out for now and I miss that. My fear factor rises and ebbs, day to day. I miss getting together with my several social groups but none of them are going out either!! We are all age 55 plus.. most in our 60's and so.. home we stay. No crafts group, no cards,no Dominoes and coffee, no lunches out with coupons,lol!

I go to Trader Joe every 10 days or so, at Senior hour, when very few in store, all older, and all wearing masks and distancing.that is the extent of my "outside life" now.

We takes long walks in local parks. Swim, hang out on patio.

I am growing weary and it's getting harder to keep my mood up.ZOOM is just not the same.

We had so many small but very interesting trips planned that we had to cancel.

In Arizona things are very bad. I would not even consider going to in restaurant dining (which are still, amazingly, open..) a hair or nail salon, or any indoor venue other than Trader Joe right now. Or in the forseeable future.

I am trying to come up with new ways to enjoy life to the fullest but it is getting harder.I do believe we will be in for at least another year.



Bob Lowry said...

Well, I see you got the "Boomer scum" comment that was left, word for word on my blog. This joker pops up every week or so. I delete as soon as it appears but this seems to be his/her hobby.

What really worries me are the figures I see that suggest up to 30% of Americans are anti-vaxers, even for a Covid shot. They see a plot or something nefarious with vaccines. So, we could all do everything to protect ourselves. get a vaccine, but still have to deal with an economy and education system under assault. Such a belief is hard to even fathom.

Madeline Kasian said...

We're being uber cautious.My husband goes back and forth about being comfortable driving too far, as he feels if we had a mishap they hospitals here in Arizona are almost full and we would not be able to get care. So our weekly drives to the lakes are out for now and I miss that. My fear factor rises and ebbs, day to day. I miss getting together with my several social groups but none of them are going out either!! We are all age 55 plus.. most in our 60's and so.. home we stay. No crafts group, no cards,no Dominoes and coffee, no lunches out with coupons,lol!

I go to Trader Joe every 10 days or so, at Senior hour, when very few in store, all older, and all wearing masks and distancing.that is the extent of my "outside life" now.

We takes long walks in local parks. Swim, hang out on patio.

I am growing weary and it's getting harder to keep my mood up.ZOOM is just not the same.

We had so many small but very interesting trips planned that we had to cancel.

In Arizona things are very bad. I would not even consider going to in restaurant dining (which are still, amazingly, open..) a hair or nail salon, or any indoor venue other than Trader Joe right now. Or in the forseeable future.

I am trying to come up with new ways to enjoy life to the fullest but it is getting harder.I do believe we will be in for at least another year.



Nancy Coiner said...

Hi,Tom -- Great job of summing up the situation! I'm in a Blue State with declining numbers -- and happy about it. On the other hand, we have hordes of college students (not all, by any means, but maybe half of the usual number) descending in late August. And though I loved the teenagers I taught, I know that most college students will NOT be able to manage safe behaviors all the time.

I feel SO SORRY for teachers and parents! All these decisions to make, and any of them could be life or death for some! It doesn't help that I'd usually be keeping cool in Nova Scotia, and I can't because we in the US didn't behave as intelligently and helpfully as the Canadians. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

"Does this mean we'll never be able to go to the movies again? "

Drive in theaters are doing well.

If your area has a large parking lot & someone/people can find a big screen, you can have a "drive in" movie theater. https://www.funflicks.com/drive-in-movie-projector-screen-rental/

or https://northernvirginiamag.com/things-to-do/things-to-do-features/2020/06/26/3-temporary-drive-in-movie-theaters-to-visit-this-summer/ if you live in northern VA, I think others are popping up in other parts of the US.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/culture/movies/how-to/a1637/4216446/

Rebecca Olkowski said...

Although staying in is getting frustrating as we're stepping back again in LA, there are good things. As you mentioned the air is better, people are taking better care of their homes, spending time with their families. I'm enjoying that there is barely any traffic. I can go down the 405 on a Friday during the day and not get jammed up. I wish that would stay that way.

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