Fandango has a provocative question he puts out every week, and while he doesn’t mean it to be politically controversial, this week it really is – of course, everything in the U.S. is political nowadays! Here’s the question(s). Do you think it’s premature for states to be lifting the stay-at-home, shelter-in-place, and social distancing restrictions? Or do you believe that it’s about time they were rescinded? Once they are removed, how quickly are you likely to resume living your life as you did in the pre-pandemic days?
I do think it’s premature and ‘wishful thinking’ because the quarantine/lockdown/stay-at-home – whatever you call it – is working as well as it can, in the absence of widespread testing and contact tracing. Of course, some states are doing better than others. Yes, the coronavirus is still spreading, but it would be worse if we weren’t doing these distancing measures. At the same time, people are desperate because they can’t go to work so they don’t have money and end up in food lines. What’s the point of all this distancing if there’s no plan being put into place? We can’t stay in lockdown forever.
The federal government lies to us, saying testing is “widely available” when it wasn’t when Trump first said it and it isn’t now! We are currently testing a mere 2% of the population! If we don’t have a way to control the chain of infection when restrictions are lifted, the virus will continue to spread like wildfire. The government should be working hard to expand testing so everyone who needs a test really CAN get a test, while we oblige by staying home. The federal government should also be planning how to give financial support to the people who are unemployed, not just once, not just now, but for many months to come. If Hillary Clinton were president (which she should be), she would have put into place from the get-go a short- and long-term strategy with the goal of keeping the public safe until there is a viable treatment and vaccine. (Also, she would not have disbanded Obama’s pandemic response team.) Instead, we have a TV president, who cares only about his public image and has no leadership qualities whatsoever. His strategy has been: Ignore the problem and maybe it will go away. Meanwhile, tell people “good news” whether it is true or not.
Although subject to much criticism lately, our governor (J.B. Pritzker) is handling this crisis sensibly. The state will be divided into regions and even sub-regions, and allow more opening up in the areas where there are few to no cases. Certain criteria will have to be met, and these criteria are rather strict.
In the northeastern region, where the Chicago metropolitan area is, the process will be slower and more cautious. The stay-at-home and wear masks in public mandates will be in effect for the whole state until May 30. Certain requirements will have to met for that region to move to the next phase. Also, a region could move backward, back to more restrictions, if there is a resurgence of the virus.
There are 5 phases in the opening process. We are on Phase 2, because some non-essential businesses have been allowed to open as of May 1, such as golf courses (with modified regulations) and plant nurseries. People are still supposed to stay home, but must wear a mask in public places.
Believe me, I don’t want this quarantine to last into the summer. We were hoping to take a trip to Arizona for my 50th high school reunion in June, but it looks like we won’t be able to go at this point. I am retired and my husband and I live in a retirement community, so our life hasn’t been totally disrupted. However, there are certain things I really miss: we used to go to lots of concerts and theatre, so I hope we can get back to that someday, and I miss our community’s many activities. Most of all, I really miss traveling – I thought for sure we’d be fine to take a cruise to the Amazon in late November, many months away, but Dr. Fauci says most likely there will be a “second wave” of the virus in the fall.
Now Trump is saying we have to “sacrifice lives” in order for the economy to go back to normal. What?? He’s saying people should DIE from the coronavirus so that his economy could go back to the way it was, with the stock market soaring again! I wish we were in New Zealand or somewhere with a sensible government and few COVID cases. But we have a total lack of leadership in the U.S. – many mistakes have been made and the crisis neglected until it became dire.
When the restrictions are lifted, there is going to be a long period of recovery. It will take a long time for the economy to get back on course and many people will find themselves playing “catch-up” due to lost wages. It is doubtful they will get the financial support they need for as long as they need it. Food pantries will have high turnouts for quite awhile. People won’t be rushing back to malls and restaurants as long as there is still a clear and present danger of contracting the virus, even if they are “allowed” to. Of course, people will be forced to go back to work, but perhaps more will continue to work from home.
I don’t think our lives will ever be the same again. Some people will continue to wear masks, like many Chinese have done long before COVID-19. Hopefully, problems will be addressed that have become too severe to ignore. And we will have a presidential election in November, hopefully installing capable leadership in Washington D.C. (The Democrats are in a very good position to win big this fall.) But it will be a vicious campaign because Trump doesn’t have the economy to run on anymore. So he will resort to strong attacks on Biden, trying to destroy his character and credibility. I hope people won’t fall for these tactics. Democrats need to learn from the disaffected Republicans in a group called The Lincoln Project, that have put out an ad called Mourning in America.
As for me, I will probably be more conscious about hygiene. I don’t follow the 5-second rule anymore – our shoes could be tracking the virus into our house, so any food that falls on the floor, I throw away immediately. I don’t read newspapers until they are 3 days old, so I just go online for current news. I made an exception for today’s paper which explained the recovery plan for Illinois.
I look forward to the resumption of our senior community’s activities, but as soon as business as usual returns, I am going to get a pedicure! I desperately need one because my toes are ugly and it’s almost sandals weather! (I do understand, though, that in the grand scheme of things, haircuts and pedicures are not really important.)
Perhaps this crisis will teach us all to give more value to things that matter – family, friends, the environment, the need for everyone to have health care (because if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything), appreciation of the postal service, gratitude for what we have. We may learn to appreciate small things such as flowers that bloom in spring or the beauty of snow in the winter. Hopefully, consumerism will be less important, but somehow, I don’t think so. It will be enough if we learn the lessons of the pandemic, if we are paying attention.