The other day, I talked for over an hour with an old friend who now lives in Madrid. They teach English in a public school in the capital and have been on lockdown for the past two weeks. With over 110,00 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Spain, lockdown for them means that only people with dogs are permitted to leave their houses. Coincidentally, they’re thinking about getting a dog.
Hearing their story made me reflect on the relative luxury we still enjoy during lockdown in the United States. I can still pick up a matcha latte at Starbucks (corporate cafés are closed but “licensed” franchise locations can be open). I can still walk in the park and along the beautiful Mississippi for miles and miles. I can still pick up groceries for my family and friends. And I can still check in with my mental health providers through video chat.
Given the amount of death and suffering that Covid-19 has caused in Spain and many other countries, I began to wonder if these are luxuries that we can actually afford in terms of health in the United States. I worry for my 93-year-old grandmother in a senior apartment. Now her meals are delivered to her door to prevent grouping in the dining room, and she cannot bring in visitors from the outside. The only time she sees other people are at bridge club and over FaceTime with my mother and I. She can leave the building, however, and with today’s good weather she is enjoying walking outside with the blue skies, warm air, and bright sunshine. So for now, we check in several times a day and I bring groceries every week to the front door, then wave goodbye from a distance.
The same is generally true for my mother. She is 63, and up until a few weeks ago she was auditing a ceramics and sculpture class at the University. Now it’s more of an online art class. She walks along the river southward from Downtown. There are fewer people on her route. She spends most of her day reading books, cooking, making art, and watching her favorite pottery competition show on YouTube.
How can I best protect and support the older people in my life, while also keeping myself healthy and sane? I try to be social from a distance with my friends. Recently, four of us met up on Houseparty and played games and chatted for a while. We are making that a weekly date now, and I am scheduling regular times to check in with my other friends as well.
I don’t have all the answers. I know my goals and my tactics probably don’t align perfectly. But I strive on, check in frequently, and treat myself often.
On March 21, 2020, the Minnesota Department of Health reported the first death in Minnesota from COVID-19. On March 30, nine days later, the total number of deaths was 10. Where will we be in another two weeks?
With that in mind, it is clear that we all need to take this seriously and stay home.
How are you keeping yourself healthy? Share your sourdough starter recipes, TV show recommendations, and other silver linings in the comments. We will get through this together.