As we enter week seven of home isolation, I am both alarmed at how fast states, including Florida, are opening up for business and how political the coronavirus pandemic has become.
I wonder if I am being over cautious because I am considered one of the “vulnerables,” who has a greater chance of dying from the virus because of a compromised immune system. But I would rather be in the vulnerable camp than the “warrior” camp.
The warriors, President Trump declared this week, are those who will die because as more businesses open there will likely be more cases and deaths from COVID-19. Those ‘’warrior’’ deaths are the collateral damage of getting the economy back on track when most states are not following the administration’s own guidelines on social distancing.
And then there are the ‘regular folks.’ That’s who Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack referred to, who she said, would not likely be affected by COVID-19 in her county. It was the meat processors who were the cause of the flare ups, she said. Yet, they are the ones mandated by Trump to stay on the job, even though in many cases the plants are not providing adequate protections for the workers, many of whom are migrants.
There are also the “protesters” who fall into several categories. There are those who refuse to wear face masks because I guess they just don’t want to. Health care workers say their actions jeopardize both themselves and people around them. Then there is the more militant sect of protesters who arm themselves with assault weapons and block state capitol buildings demanding the economy be “liberated.‘’
The ‘’violent protester’’ varies from those intentionally coughing in someone’s face to gunning down a 43–year-old Family Dollar store security guard in Flint Michigan because he refused to let a customer in the store without a face mask. Just this week a woman in Oklahoma City fired a handgun at McDonald’s employees who would not let her sit in the restricted dining area.
Politicizing the pandemic has reached a whole new level, with Trump egging on the protesters, gagging some of his most respected medical experts, and firing those in his administration who challenge his untrue narratives. He also has refused to use his authority under the Defense Powers Act to force the private sector to step up production of badly needed testing kits, face masks and other protective gear. As mentioned above, he did use the act to force meat plants to remain open despite the dramatic uptick of cases. I guess the judge’s assurance that the meat processors‘ viruses would not spread to the “regular folks’’ was a good enough reason to keep the plants open.
As a business owner, I am taking a more cautious approach to reopening Sunrise Ford and Sunrise Volkswagen. We have been fortunate to keep all of our employees on the payroll while rotating skeleton crews for necessary vehicle repairs and purchases.
When the Center for Disease Control issued it’s reopening guidelines, I figured the decision to reopen would be an easy one. The guidelines were straightforward. Florida would have to see a set decrease of COVID-19 cases over two successive weeks. Massive testing would be underway so businesses can tell who had the virus and who had built up an immunity. Extensive contact tracing would be done to locate those who may have unknowingly contracted the virus.
As of this writing, those guidelines have not been met, so for the time being so we will keep limited staff and hours of operation. As one of those “vulnerables,” I wonder how others in my situation are following the strict guidelines recommended by health experts. Like those in nursing homes, my husband and I are supposed to stay isolated in our homes, even staying away from grocery stores, pharmacies and family members and friends who aren’t in self isolation. When will those restrictions be eased? Probably not for at least a year when either a cure or a vaccine is available. It’s hard to even think about the time frame.
My only outings have been to my oncologist’s office for regular checkups and blood work. She had sent home all of her employees over the age of 60, fearing their exposure to the virus. I saw her at the end of the day and she looked exhausted, but we did chat for awhile about how COVID-19 affected her and her patients. She was getting “more calls than ever” from patients wanting prescriptions for Xanax and Ambien to help with insomnia and anxiety. She had to adjust treatments and chemo doses for many of her patients, hoping to boost their immunity should they contract the virus. She worried about her fellow health care workers not getting the equipment they needed and was concerned about the federal administration not taking an aggressive stand to battle the pandemic.
On a personal level, COVID-19 prevented her from her daily visits with her husband, living with Alzheimer’s in an assisted living facility. “We do get to FaceTime everyday so that helps,” she said. Then there was then a long pause in our conversation and I waited for her to continue. Instead she just stared and sighed. Then she said something that I believe sums up what most of us are now feeling. ‘’Everything,’’ she said. ‘’Just everything is in disarray.’’