When we began hearing about the Corona Virus, there were people in our 90-unit Independent Living Center who made a lot of jokes. Many of the jokes revolved around a beer of the same name, Corona cigars, and Corona typewriters. Does anyone remember typewriters? Well, they became part of a circulating joke. The virus was one that could be smoked, drank, or written about. Certainly, a sudden outbreak of whatever it was, could be no worse than the annual flu strains that send many seniors to their doctors for shots and to the local grocery store for cough drops or an extra carton of orange juice, chicken noodle soup and perhaps extra Kleenex tissues.
Each night, the five o’clock news gave us more and more information and because they thought we were not listening or (like me) barely listening, they began throwing numbers and visuals at us. CHINA in bold letters kept coming up on my television screen and I began to listen more carefully. We have seen folks in other countries, with their faces covered to keep them safe from whatever new strain of “stuff” befalling them, but now, this “stuff” had sneaked into the United States and people were (gasp) dying.
In order to shake us up a bit, the virus was given a catchier and more ominous name. COVID19 sounded like something from a Buck Rogers episode and I imagined it to be of nuclear strength and then came the big caboodle…it was killing off “older people”. In the blink of an eye, our home office began firing off daily (sometimes hourly) new directives. Shut down all activities. Then we went to “work split shifts and keep your office doors closed..no residents allowed inside and you can neither accept fax jobs or do any copies for them…” The reason being, they might be swathed in masks and gloves but what about the guests and adult children and grandchildren they keep sneaking into the apartments? No congregating, which meant removing the public coffee pots and shutting down the common areas.
Of course, we still scheduled a massive monthly food distribution. We had to hand-deliver 300 bags of groceries to people, knock on their doors, and step back. “The virus” was part of a toilet paper panic at one neighborhood food store that required police intervention (guns are drawn and threats made) due to the fighting and screaming over toilet paper, latex gloves, paper towels, and anti-bacterial hand soap. Surgical type masks disappeared from every shelf within driving distance and the only way I have any now is because my #3 son is a truck driver and finds plenty of these items tucked away in little off the grid towns. He takes good care of his mom.
As things are doing whatever they are doing right now, I am seeing such a division in thoughts on how do we get back to a so-called place known as normal. I believe we needed a time out in this country but not to the tune of overworking medical staff, naysayers putting others at risk and panic-driven people, sitting inside looking through their blinds, waiting on the arrival of the grim reaper. Believe me, I do not take this lightly as I am certainly a senior and I just lost my youngest brother last week, due to this virus. A staff member carried it right into the residents of his long term physical therapy place.
My heart is broken, but like many who have suffered the same bad news, I am wondering what our next step(s) as a nation should be. I do not want to be arbitrarily given any medication or testing that was not being done before this outbreak. As a senior, I understand the importance of those who wish to get back to work, because a small stimulus check will not pay the bills forever. Not even for me as I work only part-time.
I have a small conference call group where we speak about this situation because we want to talk and not debate it. The last thing I debated was whether I could get equal payback in the ’70s. No, I believe I was debating as late as the early 2000’s when the grandson I was raising wanted to date at an early age. I am wondering what we are all thinking and talking about at this stage of the virus challenges. Our lives will never be the same as we have had to adapt to a “new ” normal when shopping, social distancing and even making our way to the dumpster.
Our faces are covered and we resemble broad daylight bandits” because we do not want to catch the “stuff”. I used to be a nurse’s assistant and learned to wash my hands a thousand times a day. Now they are washed twice as much and look as pruney as well….prunes. I hope, for the sake of everyone in charge of decision making on high levels, will remember that we are a comeback country and that this too shall pass, along with the trials and grief it has imposed on so many.