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Zan’s Corner

Describe Your COVID-19 Experience: Has the World Ever Been This United?

By Zan Dubin-Scott
April 30, 2020

I asked friends a few days ago: Give me a line or two about your COVID-19 experience. Even as some areas now start to open up, it had occurred to me that the world had never felt so united, not in my lifetime anyway, nor that of a 92-year-old friend. Millions — from Ohio to Djibouti to Iceland — were sharing an experience that is changing our daily lives in a radical and concrete way. Sheltering at home, isolating, under quarantine. Whatever you want to call it. Possibly sick. I wanted to hear what it felt like. The answers stunned, moved, saddened and heartened me. Please have a look.

“Raw terror. Disbelief and distrust”.

–Heather, Georgia.

“Incompetent federal leadership”.

–Margaret, New York.

“Still Workin’”.

–Kim, Oregon.

“I’m heartbroken for those who have lost a loved one to this virus. I’m horrified by the people who are not taking the protocols seriously. I’m amazed by the change in our earth’s eco system as a result of people staying home. I’m doing my best to keep home and hearth together… Stay strong, stay safe, stay healthy, we’re all in this together”.

–Linda, Iowa.

“Anxiety at indescribable levels. Upset at federal incompetence and virulent strain of anti-intellectualism throughout this country. Know we will science the shit out of this and solve it. But it’ll take time. Perhaps a **long** time. Will we create better, more equitable systems capable of getting everyone through this trauma? Hope so. But fearful we’ll just try to go back to ‘normal’.”

–Elaine, Oregon.

“The other night while tossing & turning, worried over this pandemic, I realized at that moment nearly everyone else in the entire world was in their home worrying over the same thing”.

–Sue, Wisconsin.

“Feeling connected to the world through shared experience. About to strangle my headstrong child (WHERE does he get it from??). Using the time away from work to get the house ready for baby and focusing on the unexpected blessings stemming from being at home as a family”.

-Debbie, Virginia.

“Reordered my priorities; made me grateful for my friends and family”.

–Janet, North Carolina.

“After hearing what is going on in the world, I’m glad I live in Norway. But things are hard here, too. And homeschooling for three kids with special needs is not easy. I pray this will soon be over for every country in the world”.

–Astrid-Helen, Norway.

“I can honestly say I am somewhat conflicted and actually feel a bit guilty. While I am truly saddened at the loss of life worldwide, and I am quite certain the world will never be as it was, I must say I have waited my entire life for a “stay at home order” and I’ve been enjoying every minute of it. Unfortunately, the store I love and work for has closed and may or may not be able to survive this shift, so I’ve taken the opportunity to start planning my new business that I will delve into when this is all over. I’m thankful for all the essential workers that have put their lives on the line and will be happy when the world starts functioning in the new norm with stores and restaurants open again”.

–Cindy, Texas.

“Confusing and a little scary; also relaxing”.

–Barbara, Ohio.

“Remote education is way more work than in person”.

Amber, Texas.

“Staying at home. Appalled at some politicians’ attitudes”.

–Joyce, Brazil.

“Lots of anxiety, BUT, loving being home with my daughter. That helps with the anxiety”.

–Sheila, Georgia.

“I got a previously unknown 1–2 yr life expectancy diagnosis last month while in hospital for possible COVID pneumonia… my reality is frightful and I’m self-isolated, to boot. Trying to recover cardiac function. Keeping positive with Tai Chi, yoga, interpretive dance moments when I cry… I’m thankful for being alive each morning”.

–Leslie, Oregon.

“That’s the amazing thing about right now. We have a wonderful opportunity to be in solidarity with the entire planet”.

–Preston, Oregon.

“I’m just gonna post a series of memes I found online that describe where I am, okay? Okay”.

–Leslie, Nebraska:

Eight Days a Week: will we ever have enough testing?

April 24th, 2020–Testing and contact tracing. Many are bellowing it’s what’s required—on a massive scale—to safely reopen the country and prevent another outbreak.

Without contact tracing, which involves tracking down infected people, then finding everyone who has been near them and encouraging those people to stay home until it is clear they’re not sick, “there’s always a risk that we won’t be able to contain further outbreaks,” says Dr. Mike Reid, an assistant professor of infectious disease at the University of California, San Francisco.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom told NPR that eventually many thousands of individuals will be needed to expand testing and tracing statewide. And that’s just one state.

Indeed, the nation’s population comes in at 328 million.

But we’ll have no problem ramping up, right? President Trump has said we have “tremendous testing capacity.”

Well, of course there is a problem. I can’t turn right without reading that we have nowhere near enough tests or the nationwide public-private system required for sufficient testing and tracing effort, which involves everything from obtaining certain chemicals from China to coordinating with private labs and hospitals for execution.

It’s true, many are racing to beef up the effort. I hear talk of a Peace Corps-like effort, putting all the newly unemployed to work. The CDC is thinking of diverting 25,000 Census Bureau workers to do contact tracing. It is sending teams to eight states to help bolster contact tracing efforts and contain the virus, a federal health official told CNN. 

But let’s think about it. Say I work for the Widget Company, which is ready to begin opening up.

I go into work on a Monday. I’d have to be tested. Say I’m negative. Cool, I get to stay at work.

But what about Tuesday? Wouldn’t I have to be tested again on Tuesday? And Wednesday and Thursday and Friday?

And I’m just one employee. Wouldn’t every employee have to be tested every day? At every company, restaurant, store and gym from coast to coast?

Sure, you could just take my temp, but what if I’m asymptomatic? That’s common with Covid.

To complicate things further, what if I test positive? Will my replacement be ready to jump in? I can’t just work from home because I’m sick. And what about false negatives? And, with tracing, say I’m told that my buddy is sick. I’m well, but they’re asking me to quarantine for 14 days. Am I going to want to do that? Evidently, San Francisco, which has shared in California’s widely praised success in flattening its Covid curve, is looking at making it required by law. Will every city, county or state be so inclined?

But the topic here is what appears to be the impossibility of ever having enough tests.

“We are an order of magnitude off right now from where we should be,” Dylan George, an expert in infectious disease modeling, told NBC Friday. “Testing is the perpetual problem here.”

I think the answer will have to be settling for what we can manage—as we simultaneously employ the tried and true hand-washing and other mitigation measures. More federal assistance would help, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

“The next frontier (is) testing. We don’t have a system” to deal with the kind of volume needed, Cuomo said.

Likewise, I haven’t heard about a massive infusion of federal funding to help all the states do the testing and tracing they need.

Hopefully, the plans we do have in place, created by governors and including Trump’s new guidance for opening up, will be good enough. I have one friend, however, who plans to work at home until we have a vaccine. I think she’s probably making the right decision.

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