Observations and Questions in the Time of COVID-19

Is there more birdsong these days or have I just slowed down enough to hear it?

Same question about critters in general – my yard is filled with bunnies, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, woodchucks. Were they always there and I didn’t notice? As I was writing this, a fawn came out of the woods and strolled across our yard!

one of two fawns in our yard this morning

I’m thinking of taking up bird watching as a new hobby.

Why do people bother wearing a mask if they don’t cover their nose with it? Are there any medical conditions that are truly worsened by wearing a mask? And, if they are that compromised, why are they walking through the supermarket in the first place? Though I have been tempted, I have never said anything to anyone who was wearing their mask incorrectly. Should I? I don’t want to police other people’s behavior. I also don’t want to get into an argument. At this point, what is the chance that they don’t know better?

It is hard to ignore the fact that poor people of color have been disproportionately harmed by coronavirus – in the incidence of illness, number of deaths, job loss. Perhaps our awareness of how inequitable our society is will be the one good thing that comes out of this catastrophe. The question remains, how will we respond? Will that awareness translate into structural change?

The number of deaths is mind-numbing. It feels like we have stopped noticing. I guess we have to do that, or we would be paralyzed. Will we ever deal with the enormity of it? Will the New York Times run another front page story listing the names of the next 100,000?

How do you decide how much vigilance in keeping physically distant and washing or sanitizing your hands is enough? Our daughter and son-in-law-to-be visited from Somerville, MA this past weekend. The reason for the trip was to order her wedding dress! A bright spot in an otherwise dreary time – even if we don’t know if the party can go on as planned.

The agreement about the arrangements for the visit (per my husband who is a doctor) was that we would keep physically distant. We didn’t hug. We did most of our visiting either outside or at least six feet apart in the house. We didn’t share serving utensils. They stayed in a bedroom in the basement. Any time he handed something to them, Gary ‘purelled’ before and after. I was not quite as careful, though I did my best. I’m thinking that if any one of us has COVID, we exposed the others just by being in the same house for an extended period. Did it make sense to take all of those precautions? I am thankful they visited, regardless of what happens. Unless all four of us get sick, we won’t know that we got it from each other anyway. All it takes is one virus-laden sneeze from a person on the one occasion you go out to put gas in your car… You can go round and round thinking about this, ultimately you make your best guess after weighing the risks and the benefits. The risks of their visit, given that Gary, the most vigilant among us, is the only one out in the work world on a day-to-day basis, and none of us had symptoms, seemed low. The benefit, especially to my emotional well-being, was huge. How are you dealing with making these calculations? Is it making you as crazy as it is making me?

As this drags on, will we get more lax about it?

My mom called asking my thoughts about getting picked up by her brother, taken to his house, visiting for an hour (so she can participate in our family movie club which is done online), and then getting driven back to her place. Her I-pad is too outdated to support the software for her to join in from her own place. She wanted to go. I thought about how hard the isolation has been on her, how much she enjoys movie club, weighed the risks and the benefits, and told her she had my support.

I hope with all my heart that these are the correct calculations.

4 thoughts on “Observations and Questions in the Time of COVID-19

  1. You can’t know how much Ira and I have been wrestling with the same decisions. When Paul and Em were able to come up from visiting her family in CT for Zach’s backyard Graduation, we agonized over allowing them to stay over. Ultimately it was decided the risk was too great. Everything was done outside with distancing and masks. It wasn’t perfect, but we had our kids with us for the first time in 8 months.
    Because MA, like NY has flattened the curve, we have very gradually begun seeing others. My 3 coffee girls come over on Weds afternoons for a couple of hours in the yard, weather permitting. This past Friday, 2 close friends came by for dinner outside and stayed til sundown. We tried to make sure we used disposable everything. We brought in pizza. We wore masks. We distanced. I keep gloves, and sanitizer on the patio table. I disinfected the bathroom completely.
    I can say that not seeing family is killing my elderly clients (2 of whom I am currently not seeing) as much as a potential infection. These folks are having time stolen from them. You made the right call, Linda.
    Honestly, cannot say I have an answer when we will feel safe enough to attend a large gathering, dine in a restaurant, or get on a plane. The fear is that we, and others will become too complacent about being vigilant where the virus is concerned until a vaccine is available.
    Thank you for another timely piece.


    1. Thanks, Mary. I can imagine how hard it was to make the call about the graduation. I don’t want to be greedy, but it is just not as satisfying to visit under these conditions. But we need to keep on keeping on. Eventually we will get through this.


  2. You have listed many questions. Many of the answers could have been given had the federal government
    taken the lead and provided direction. Since this virus was and is unknown an entity, combating it the federal government may have gotten some things right and other things wrong. But we would have learned as the we progressed in time with the virus. We as a nation would have been in sync on how to respond. Instead the federal government lead by our President kick the ball to each of the 50 governors on how best to mange the pandemic. This created much confusion. States took different approaches leading to the uncertainty within communities and states. It also has cost us much more in terms of buying necessary products to fight the virus in that states were competing with one another driving up prices to acquire the necessary products. This pandemic required strong sane leadership from the top of government. Since sadly this did not occur. The result now is some people wear masks and others refuse to (sometimes violently so). This is why some people make the decisions within their own households as to whether they should unpack groceries outside your house, sanitize the mail, don’t allow anyone in your house (no one has been in mine since the beginning of March) etc… And take actions such as Gary has.


  3. As a medical doctor, I thought I would focus on the wildlife outside our door. Some of them-like that adorable fawn-stir our heartstrings. Some of them like the rabbits seem cute and cuddly. But those woodchucks that were so joyfully eating the gardens that took so much effort to create will never get any sympathy from me. I think of squirrels as potentially getting into the house and causing trouble. And those critters that burrow under our feet (are they voles) are not my friend.
    Thank goodness for those adorable, graceful, Lyme disease carrying deer.
    Wonderful blog post. Thank you


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