It happened a lot faster than I expected. I’m not surprised, but I’m still crushed. Sad. Scared. Frustrated.
We knew it was coming. We hoped it wasn’t. And here we are. We now have even more cases than China. Just a few days ago, major newspapers published that Europe was the new Epicenter. And now, (as if the US were obsessed with being first place in everything), we have taken first place in contagion.
It didn’t have to be this way. We got the virus later than others. We had the good fortune to have seen what worked and what didn’t work in controlling the virus. Southeast Asia controlled it by cracking down fast and hard. Italy let it spiral out of control because they waited and didn’t want to restrict freedoms or hurt the economy (understandably). Knowing the consequences of overloaded hospitals and high death rates, we chose to follow Italy.**
And here we are. With a problem now even bigger than Italy or China ever had to deal with. (And we have less hospital capacity than Italy, with just 2.8 hospital beds per 1000 people, compared to Italy’s 3.2.)
We are now the experiment. We are now risking the lives of family and friends to show whether it was worth it to try to protect economic activity and freedom to move about.
Some said that maybe we could acquire herd immunity if the virus was just left to do its thing, which guided the UK’s weak initial response, but when simulations showed disastrously overwhelmed health care systems under this scenario, they changed course.
Sometimes I ask myself, what in the world motivated US leaders to make this decision? Some say they believed God would make everything ok. My dad always said God gives us brains (in this case, a community of people who have dedicated their lives to studying math, science, and medicine) and if we don’t use them, that’s on us.***
Well, the decisions have been made and I can’t do anything about the past. A wise person told me that dwelling on the past doesn’t do any good; healthy people learn from the past and move forward.
So, my lesson here is that not making swift and informed decisions of prevention is the same as making swift decisions to deal with a bigger, more expensive and extensive problem later.
Now, the moving on part.
Other countries that all acted earlier than us faced overloaded and understaffed and under-equipped hospitals. So, we will have to rise the challenge to address those needs. We will have to use our resources and specific talents to help out where there is need.
It would be nice to have strong federal leadership with a plan, but it is clear that our leadership does not heed advice of experts and their plans seem to revolve around protecting the wealthiest engines of the economy instead of the people that keep that same economy running.
So this is where we come together in a grass roots kind of way, looking towards the experts and community organizers that follow the advice of REAL experts to figure out where we can make a real difference.
This isn’t just about surviving boredom in the quarantine (though that’s important too).**** This is about coming together as a community to help each other out.
I have updated the list of things we can help with from my previous blog, and please let me know if you have others…
What can I do while I’m sitting at home in quarantine? Individual Action – what we need to (and can) do:
“In my experience, success is dependent on how much the public is informed and participates,” Admiral Ziemer said. “This truly is an ‘all hands on deck’ situation.” (b)
- Help each other out, have a little more patience and compassion since we’re all going through crazy times. Read this if you lead a team, or if you just want some tips and reminders for communicating with each other during these emotionally charged time.
- Do you happen to have nitrile gloves, hand sanitizer, surgical masks, or especially N-95 masks that could help protect a medical professional? Find a donation center here: https://getusppe.org/give/ and donate N95 masks here too https://www.projectn95.org/
- Plan for a few months of economic disruption the best you can, and if you can, help those that are more vulnerable and those who can’t work from home and won’t be able to receive income during the quarantine.
- Check for a “Virtual Tip Jar” in your area (google it for your area).
- Forward your payment to the handyman, keep paying your dog walker or cleaning person if you have one and are able.
- Share ideas on how to help in meaningful and practical ways, according to your interests and experiences. Many people are giving free online yoga classes. People are sharing at-home kids activities and home-schooling materials.
- Know some entrepreneurs and small business owners that could need help and be able to help during these times? Here is a portal with loans and other financial resources.
- For engineers, lab technicians, data scientists, bench researchers, etc: here are some virtual opportunities to lend a hand to relief efforts (ie. Helpful Engineering, Crowdfight COVID-19, and COVID-19 Pandemic Shareable Scientist Response Database). Here’s an example of engineers sharing designs for making ventilators.
- For people with medical training, there’s the Medical Reserve Corps (but if you hear of a better-organized way to volunteer, please let me know si I can add it here).
- Be creative in connecting with family, friends, roommates, etc. whether it be virtually or those with whom you live. Here’s a resource for stimulating good conversations at home or among your virtual work team.
- Learn something new, practice singing and dancing, try yoga, try meditation, do home workouts to keep the blood (and endorphins) flowing.
- Free yoga classes with Ari_NYT – around an hour on weekends and 30 mins on weekdays
- Read my blogs about my travels to take a break from the COVID-19 stuff. I promise, I will be returning to sharing my adventures in my next posts!
Most importantly, let’s help each other out and take care of ourselves too. Don’t ignore the anxiety and stress from the situation, accept and manage it by giving yourself some self time, by connecting with others – even if it’s phone calls and video chats.
We’re #1! Not because we don’t make mistakes, but because we get back up again every time.
*Just yesterday (3-27), the JHU dashboard showed the number of US cases jumping past China and Italy. However, that is not to say that just yesterday we had a surge in people contracting the virus; actually it means that it happened a week or two ago. Since it takes between 2-14 days to show symptoms, the data today shows us what was happening about a week ago. This time delay means we also won’t immediately be able to tell if the measures we are putting in place are actually working because we won’t see the effects for a week or two.
**The US has been working hard to bring US citizens home, but it has been doing almost NOTHING to make sure those coming home don’t spread the virus. Eight out of 11 people I know who have gotten back to the states in the last few days told me they had absolutely ZERO screening related to the virus as the entered the US. Two of them had their temperatures taken. One of them was asked if they had been to China, but not asked if they had been through Europe, which is actually the current epicenter.
***This paragraph has been updated because its intention could be easily misinterpreted. My intention of referencing this saying was to point out that we have a well-established scientific and medical community of people that have dedicated their entire lives to studying math, science, and/or medicine so that we as a human society can make better decisions, especially in circumstances like these. The current administration has consistently ignored, downplayed its value, and arrogantly contradicted its recommendations (citing one or two random people that have proposed contradictory theories that go against an entire community of people with evidence), and this situation is one of the more obvious consequences this attitude towards the scientific community.
****I am personally trying to view my time in quarantine as a type of meditation retreat where I am prioritizing time for myself each day and prioritizing time for relaxation. I know this isn’t as easy for everyone, depending on the circumstances, but I encourage everyone to try to carve out some self time. If not now, when?
Thank you to everyone who contributed ideas of how we can help, including: Monica Kang, Emily Tolos, Katherine Buckingham, Melanie Vant, Michael MacHarg, Catherine H. Clark, Stephen Zerfas, Stuart Murphey, Adrian Reif, Alyzza May, Stacy Kane, Nora L, Ari Isaacman Bevacqua, Harvey Floyd II.