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Living on the Edge: Covid-19

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.

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9 thoughts on “Living on the Edge: Covid-19

  1. Mary M Verness

    Conrad,

    Your Mother and Grandmother are blessed to have you in their lives.

    I too would especially worry for your Grandmother and I hope they are taking tons of precautions. How about getting an air filter for her room? She has lived through some scary times in this world during her life and I hope she draws strength from those memories.

    As for your Mom… I too am 63 (shhh). It’s really not that old. She’s staying active which is great! Text messages a couple of times a day really help. I’m not blessed with children or family really so I have a Posse that I check in with plus am on the Internet a lot when I’m not working. I’m also very fortunate to have dogs that will center me when I get overly anxious- plus I turn my TV onto H&I which has NO NEWS. I watch a lot of Star Trek which is just fine with me. I’m going to end this with one more tidbit. Whoever and only those you love in life, because it has to be real, tell them I Love You. One doesn’t have to get dramatic, just a simple I Love You. Hang in there.. we can do this!

  2. Mark

    I’d recommend skipping Starbucks. Sure it’s nice, but it isn’t essential right now. Everyone should be focused on interactions that are only essential. Limit your grocery runs to once a week and get only what you need. Go outside for walks but everyone needs to stay keep a safe distance and people need to realize there are plenty of walking locations other than Bde Mka Ska. Aside from that just stay inside. Talk with friends, family. Catch up on Netflix. The economy will implode short term, but we’ll all be better in the long run if we hunker down.

  3. Monte Castleman

    We need to continue to have discussions as to what is “essential” and what needs to be shut down. Grocery Stores, Restaurants, and Gas Stations are no-brainers since people need to eat and essential employees need to travel, and it seems you’d be less likely to catch coronavirus in your enclosed, glassed in car then on transit. Also it seems filling up at a self-serve pay-at-the-pump has essentially zero risk if you wash your hands afterwords. It would also seem that delivery and the drive-thrus that the city just banned are the safest ways of getting food if you pay ahead on an app and have 5 seconds of arms length contact when collecting your food from a window.

    In what world are “liquor” stores essential? If we truly think it’s vitally important that people be able to get their wine and vodka in the middle of a pandemic maybe we need to have a discussion of allowing sales in grocery stores and gas stations so the liquor store clerks can stay home and customers aren’t increasing their exposure. If people just feel the need to get blasted you can do that (eventually) with 3.2 “beer” or you can have the real stuff delivered

    Coffee shops are not essential. I’m not going to argue about the necessity off coffee, but you can buy a bag in any grocery store. The justification that now and then someone buys a food item seems rather flimsy.

    Fabric stores are not essential. They’re not the only way of obtaining “fabric for sewing masks”. Do you not have old clothes around that you can’t donate to goodwill? If you already are the type that sews, don’t you have a huge stash of fabric? If nothing else you can buy fabric at Walmart and presumably other places that sell food.

    There’s been suggestions that restaurants and grocery stores permanently move to a take out and delivery only model. I don’t think that’s feasible. Even if people like me that have no idea how to use online ordering through a grocery store or grubhub figure it out, the economics for such full service didn’t even work in the days before mininum wages and it’s hard to think of something more regressive than driving up the cost of everything we eat. Some Walmarts have actually stopped pickup because it was so labor intensive that they need all hand on deck now just to keep the shelves stocked for the self service people.

    Right now we trusted people to behave in the park, and they’ve violated our trust with reports of basketball games and walking to close on the trails. Perhaps shutting down more of the parks is a discussion we need to have.

    1. Brian

      Liquor stores are considered essential because severe alcoholics typically require hospital care if they go cold turkey. The state doesn’t want hospital beds taken up by alcoholics.

      1. Mike SonnMike Sonn

        Also, if you look at Denver, the mayor said he was closing liquor stores and there was a massive run on liquor which included people packed into stores and packed in lines to access the stores. Probably put WAY more people in harm’s way by that order than keeping the stores open.

    2. Pete Barrett

      I love the heavy handed judgemental nature of “…the need to get blasted…”

      Some of us can stop at one or two.

      1. Monte Castleman

        So can I. Which means that we both could deal with the liquor stores being closed as non-essential businesses.

    3. Tim

      I’ll argue that fabric stores have a number of uses besides making masks — making and repairing clothing and household goods, for example. They are a pretty basic, foundational need for a lot of people, not just crafters.

      Plus, having fewer places to buy something creates more likelihood of temporary shortages, as well as overloading stores that are already busy (not to mention driving more people into them). As long as safety precautions are followed, keeping more stores open means more dispersal and less concentration, plus allows for more robust supplies of essentials (any given channel can only accommodate so much of a given product within their network at one time).

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