This week, I looked at the worldwide COVID19 stats for the first time in ages. It’s incredible that some folks think we’re doing okay and that it’s okay to open up the economy right now. The US has a third of the world’s confirmed cases (when we have less than 5% of the world’s population!), and six times the next-highest country’s level of confirmed cases (Spain). If you break those numbers into “per million people,” to take population into account, the worldwide figure is 531, whereas the US’s figure is 4144. Only Spain’s number, 4829, is higher. As for deaths, we have 28% of the world’s deaths as well, and 2.5x higher total deaths than the next in line (UK). This is just plain nuts. The US has done the very worst job in the world at taking care of its populations during this pandemic. How are there some people who don’t see this?
This has all gotten me thinking, particularly because COVID19 isn’t going away any time soon. It’ll be at least 12-18 months until a vaccine can be created, tested, verified, approved, and rolled out, and that’s best-case scenario. We still don’t know if people can catch the disease twice, or how its mutations will thwart vaccine-creation. We have to start thinking of this as a longterm situation and consider how to handle our lives beyond the immediate. Because no, of course we can’t shut down the country for the next year or two. We already know we can’t rely on the federal or state governments to help those in the most need. And we know that the people most affected here are the people we need crucially – essential workers like health care folks. Things can’t stay frozen, but they also aren’t going to go back to the way they were. They need to move forward into a new way of living that takes into account this virus.
That has been my focus this week. I picked up coffee from a coffee shop even though I could have gotten it from home, because I wanted to support that particular business, and they have been doing a good job with social distancing, and it was a fundraiser for the Battered Women’s Shelter. I went to my dad’s house and had an in-person conversation with my extended family for the first time in two months, sitting ten feet apart to stay safe. My husband and kids set up our fire pit on the driveway so we could roast hot dogs and s’mores, and generally hang out outside, saying hello to people who walked by and watching all the other neighbors out in their yards and driveways. I invited my mom and another friend to set up a yard hang-out time as well, which will hopefully happen soon. I began digging up my yard to xeriscape, knowing that I can get curbside pickup at my local nursery. Jason cut his own hair, because this may just be what we have to do to stay safe for the next few years. I donated blood in another community drive yesterday (pic below), and was pleased at how safe everything has been set up.
Jason and I have identified businesses that are doing a really good job to keep people safe, and which are flaunting the rules, and have removed all of our business from the latter. For example, in the past it has been easy for Jason and me to get most of our groceries and household goods from our local grocery store, HEB. Some items, though, weren’t available, and it was easy to pop down to Walmart for them. Walmart, however, has done a HORRIBLE job taking care of its employees. It’s never been good to them, of course, but we never changed our habits before. Now, we’ve removed our business from them altogether and gone to better stores, both local and national. We plan to continue to boycott them even after all this is through, plus any other businesses that are saying f-you to the safety of their employees and customers.
It feels like a good time to be very deliberate in our choices. Not only are we shopping more at local/small businesses and supporting only companies that are taking this seriously, but we’ve been changing our habits. For instance, we’ve been making more vegetarian meals to ease the pressure on the meat industry after they were required to stay open. And we’ve watched other people make similar personal choices as quarantine enters into our third month or longer. Not everyone can be deliberate, I know – unemployment and health and other factors will interfere – but it seems a good time to use whatever privileges we have (be that money, or sewing skills, or time, etc) to reach out and/or help others.
These are the things we can do – adapt to the technology available to us (ebooks, online ordering, curbside pickup, contactless delivery, VPN, Zoom, etc), pick up some new skills like cutting hair or cooking, get better at budgeting and meal planning and consolidating errands and time management. Find ways to socialize and attend to physical/mental health, while continuing to keep the community safe. It can be done. We just have to stop looking backward and start considering the longterm instead.
Some of my favorite new-world innovations:
- mini greenhouse dining space in Amsterdam
- Marco Polo, an app for text video chats with people
- streaming movie releases at home (higher cost for earlier release in lieu of theatres)
- tele-medicine availability (both Morrigan and Jason have had these over the last two months)
- adaptations to more work-from-home choices, as a positive impact toward the environment and work/life balance without commutes
- yard hangouts with family and friends (I know that doesn’t seem like innovation, but it certainly feels like it is!)
- the Knight Bus feature and spell energy put on the map for Harry Potter Wizards Unite, to make play easier from home