The way things are now

This post feels a bit like a cross between recent meditations on living in these COVID times and on calling things by their real names.

Or maybe, I should just call it: I may be a sad sack about my solo Solstice, but I am NOT going to be a selfish, solipsistic, self-destructive shithead.

(That kind of alliteration has to be kind of impressive, right?)

A 1970s era pattern made of titled S'es in orange, hot pink and purple.

Basically, this is me riffing further to expound on a comment from yesterday’s post. Someone’s initial response to my sadness from last night was to go see my family anyhow—cos life is short and nothing is guaranteed, anyways.

And I know that advice is coming from a place of individual compassion for me and my pain. But it is not counsel I can take in good conscience. ‘Cos I only have the tiniest bit of epidemiological understanding, but I know enough to know the importance of public health and to know how important it is to listen to public health and medical experts when you’re in the middle of a global pandemic.

I get it. It’s hard. I’m feeling the difficulty for sure.

But listen to these words from Dr. Madison Schaeffer, who’s a fellow Seven Sisters alum:

Hi, friends. Some of you might remember me from when I made a post trying to answer questions way back in the beginning of this insanity. I am a COVID-19 epidemiologist who works for the New Mexico Department of Health. I work on COVID all day, every day, 12-14 hours a day. And I need to tell you something hard.

You cannot do your usual holidays this year. You can’t. You have to stay home. You cannot travel. You cannot see extended family, biological or found. I am saying this at the top of my scientist lungs. I am saying it so that you, a person with family members who are pressuring you, feel like you have back up. I am an expert. I have a degree in biology from Bryn Mawr, two master’s degrees in public health and human biology, and about a decade of public health experience. All my time at work goes toward fighting this disease. You MUST stay home.

There is so much community transmission right now that the chances one person in a group of 15 has COVID could be as high as 60-70% in some areas of the country. You risk getting it and you risk spreading it. And friends, there are simply no ICU beds for you. There are not enough providers to care for you. There are not enough epidemiologists to trace all the contacts you were around. There isn’t space in the medical examiner’s office for you if you die. We – nurses, doctors, public health workers – are underwater. We have been at this for ten months and we are beyond exhausted. We can’t breathe. And the only thing you can do right now is STAY HOME.

People are going to die because they could not miss one family dinner and some football games. The consequences right now are profound. Please stay home. And if your family is mad, they are mad. Too bad. I would rather have mad family than dead family. Stay home.

ETA: I am fine with folks sharing this, with or without credit!

Please listen to the the smart, dedicated, badass doctor. Okay?

Two Coronavirus patients hooked up to ventilators. A doctor in PPE is writing charts at a small rolling table in the foreground.

Of if you need a bit more of a kick in the pants, listen to Dr. Mark Morocco. Ableist headline aside, there’s some some hard truths here and a lot of justifiable anger:

It didn’t have to be this way.

We bent the curve, then let it bend right back. Distracted and tired, our focus faded.

Fall is aptly named. People aren’t made to be perfect, but damn, we should be better than this.

What you do — how we ALL act in the next six weeks — will make the difference between an inconvenient fall and a disaster that will take years to overcome. [. . .]

In my world, we are deeply disheartened to realize that, as a country, the United States can’t unite as other countries have, and that the work of crushing this virus turned out to be too complicated for our leaders and our neighbors. Now we are in danger of losing perhaps half a million people or more.

It makes front-liners like me feel as though our work doesn’t matter.

And yes, I’ll say it again: I get that it’s hard. I am still hoping against hope that things will improve enough in mid-December that a brief road trip becomes an option.*

But I am also paying attention to the science and listening to the public health experts. And I am drawing on my knowledge of brain science, as beautifully summarized by Yascha Mounk for The Atlantic.

One major problem is that stopping the virus from spreading requires us to override our basic intuitions. Three cognitive biases make it hard for us to avoid actions that put us in great collective danger. [. . .]

If you go to one dinner, you’ll likely be fine. But if everyone goes to one dinner, the virus will spread with such speed that your own chances of contracting COVID-19 will also rise precipitously.

In a pandemic, what is individually rational can be collectively disastrous.

Let that sink in: Choosing to act as an individual right now rather than as a community member can be collectively disastrous.

So, however sad I’ll be, on and off,** around not being able to see my immediate family, I will remain steadfast and confident that staying solo with Mr. Mezz will indeed be the most loving choice I can make—for my immediate family, for my heart’s family, for my entire human family.


* Though given current travel patterns—CNN, NPR, NY Post—let’s be real: we are gonna have an unmitigated shitshow of a COVID surge 10-17 days from now. #ThisIsWhyWeCantHaveNiceThings

** And I do expect it be somethign that comes and goes.


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3 thoughts on “The way things are now

  1. Pingback: Heart to heart conversations – Self-Love: It's Just Another Lifestyle Change

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