Clemencia and I, like many of you, have been making many difficult decisions over the past few months of the pandemic. You’ve probably noticed too that they aren’t getting any easier.
Recently we’ve been facing the decision of how much to go back out into the world. In our state, Maryland, the positivity rate for the virus is 4.53%, up slightly from yesterday, but still the lowest it has been in months. The lowered positivity rate gives confidence that people can begin to move about more freely outside their homes.
With that new sense of freedom, we begin to wonder how much moving about is too much. It also raises the question “Just because we can begin to go out again, should we?”
We’ve answered that question for ourselves. Given:
- the changing understanding that the coronavirus is not only spread by droplets but aerosol;
- the risk it poses to older people like ourselves and, now as we are learning, for young people;
- the gross failure of the Trump administration and many governor’s to act in accordance with the best science available to contain the virus; and,
- the overall failure of American’s to use the simplest mitigation practices: wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance,
we are deciding to shelter-in-place until a vaccine is widely available.
Yes, we know that could be many months, even years. However, the possibility of catching or spreading the virus seems completely irresponsible to us given all we know about the virus and what COVID-19 does to people. It isn’t just that it kills many older people, it now appears to destroy the bodies of younger people. Actor Nick Cordero, who was only slightly older than our own children, is a horrific case in point of just how much the virus can devastate the body.
For us, it is easy to stay at home because we can both work from home and online. We do not have to go out. Still, it is a hard decision because we know it means we cannot be with family or dear friends.
Earlier today, after sharing this decision with a friend and colleague, I was asked, “But what would you do if you had young children?” The presence of young children presents an even harder choice. I had to stall a little as I quickly thought about it.
Finally, I said that I’d do everything I could to keep my children home with me. I say this fully aware that, though I am not a wealthy person, I live a privileged life compared to many others. And it is privileged compared to my younger self, too. I know what it is to live paycheck to paycheck; to be far behind on payments; to be on the verge of eviction; to have my credit ruined because of debt delinquency; and to miss meals because I couldn’t feed my family and also feed myself.
In reality my younger-less-privileged-self would not be able to stay at home and keep my children at home too. My heart aches for the parents who feel they have no recourse but to send their children back to school in a few weeks. My blood boils at Lame, Lummoxed, Loggerheaded Leaders who are so lacking creativity and courage that they cannot re-imagine how education could be – if resources were made available. We can help parents teach and manage their children even as they need to continue to work, from home or outside the home, even as essential workers. It still wouldn’t be easy for a parent but neither is sending a child off everyday to an environment you are not sure is really safe for them.
If those “Leaders” wanted to, if we as a society had the will, we could make the investment for every parent and every child. In turn, they could make the easier choice of keeping their children safer at home this Fall. Really, can’t we do that?
chickenman – episode 77
This episode focuses on life back at the Commissioner’s office in Midland City. Ms. Helfinger realizes the Commissioner has a brother! A rum running brother!