The Country Opens Up, But What About Us? Can We Watch Out for One Another?
Most of us are concerned about the future of the nation, our health, our families, our lives, and well, let's face it, the human race. The United States government appears to be opening up the country again, despite the fact that many states have failed to lower the number of Corona virus cases or even flatten the curve. It's almost as if everyone has swallowed the grim pill that we need to live with this new normal rather than wait it out until we've learned more about the nature of Covid-19. But who's comfortable with that?
I have to be honest, I'm not. I live in Oakland, CA, Alameda County, the largest amount of Covid-19 cases rising in the San Francisco Bay Area at this moment and my job requires me to have physical contact with my clients for an hour at a time. This while I don't even make that kind of contact with anyone outside of my immediate family. I haven't seen my parents, sister, extended family, or close friends since this went down in March, and now, it's sink or swim in shark infested waters.
Nor have I been able to get acupuncture, a chiropractic adjustment, or bodywork for myself. Or a dentist appointment for that matter. I should mention that I have auto-immune issues and this makes me uneasy since it's clear the medical professionals don't fully understand the nature of Covid-19. Not saying that I'm anymore important than my neighbor, but do I offer a service that I should avoid receiving myself?
We're at a point where we have to weigh the value of and decide what we deem as "essential services." So this begs the question; what are the essential services when it comes to healthcare? In an ideal world, all health services available would be classified as essential, but this world is even less ideal than it was three months ago.
And I think about this when I take my infant son around the block for some air and see people, whom I'm fairly certain are neither related nor roommates, hanging out in groups, smoking and drinking together without masks or social distancing. Attempting to shame them or call the police (which is something that should never be taken lightly in Oakland) is going to support a pattern that weakens the fabric of the community at a time when we all need each other. I fear that a system of snitching on strangers will just create more resentment and distrust in a community that had already worked so hard to create safety and stability long before the pandemic. I'm very serious about that because it's clear that we can't depend on support from the federal level to be sure that the proper precautions are being taken.
Not to mention that there are few places in the US where the homeless are properly being taken care of to see that they don't get infected or infect others. At the risk of sounding like an activist, it's another indication of how our infrastructure fails to support those trapped in lower rungs of society.
I considered myself fortunate to live in a state where our governor, Gavin Newsome, had made it clear that he would not lift shelter-in-place guidelines until it was deemed safe, even in defiance of the federal government. Now even he seems to be at a loss as of what to do because the only option would be to enforce martial law or draconian-like measure to keep people quarantined, and that rarely ends well in places with a sizable disenfranchised population. He's opening up CA little by little despite the fact that there are more cases than when shelter-in-place began.
Packed beaches and parks in places with a significant amount of Covid-19 cases and anti-shutdown protestors without masks are not helping the situation. In fact, it's resulting in situations like this....
It's as though people think because the government has lifted restrictions, the threat has magically vanished. One of the few indicators we can check with now are the hospital staff on the front lines of the pandemic. Do they want me to go back to work?
I'm reminded of an experience in traffic school some time ago in my early 20's. The teacher said "If the police took a day off from monitoring traffic and the highway, would you drive that day?" Everybody in the room looked around in horror. "You wouldn't would you? Well that's how it is in many other countries, which is why everybody on the road is watching one another so they have less accidents. I think we have too many regulations in this country, and that's why we've become less mindful drivers: we rely on the highway patrol do it for us rather than paying attention to the other drivers on the road."
Now let's apply that analogy to the way in which politicians and the police try to enforce rules around flattening the curve. We can't rely on them, it's on us to make responsible choices, stay together as a community (at six feet apart), and figure out how we can safely function as a society. I want to trust my neighbors, I want to see my loved ones, and I want to go back to work and know that I can trust my clients to make responsible decisions. I don't care whether you believe in God, multiple gods, the universe, or none of that at all, the human race is being challenged and I'd like to believe that we can all step up to become a better people at the other end of this thing.