Update From Quarantine

After 31/2 months of isolating at home with my husband, I was so hoping that by now the number of COVID-19 cases would have diminished enough that I could at least return to work and perhaps visit some family members without worrying about becoming infected.

But with record breaking cases being reported in Florida, and hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients on the rise,  we have no choice but to remain at home, have our groceries delivered to our door and run Sunrise Ford remotely.  Since I have a compromised immune system because of ongoing chemotherapy to keep my breast cancer in remission, I am considered to be high risk should I contract the disease.

Gov. Ron DeSantis referred to people like me when he announced this week that he would not order any major rollbacks of businesses, despite the alarming new statistics.

‘’If we protect the vulnerable then we are going to get through this patch adequately,’’ he said.  Keeping people like me, along with the elderly in nursing homes, as shut-ins may prevent us from contracting the virus, but at what price?

I feel more fortunate than most.  I, along with my husband, can still run Sunrise Ford from home, although I have always been a hands on dealer so staying away is difficult.  I miss interacting with our employees and customers.  But it could be much worse.  I could be one of the “vulnerables’’ whose job would not enable me to work remotely.  That would be a tough choice.   Stay at work for that necessary paycheck and worry about would could be very dire consequences or stay at home and worry about what happens when the unemployment checks (if you were even lucky enough to get them) end?

And what about the vulnerables in nursing homes?  For months they have not been allowed to visit with families and friends.  In most cases they cannot even share meals in their communal dining rooms.  Meals are brought to their rooms where they eat alone.

A friend, whose mother has lived in an assisted living home for seven years, has fretted for months about how much her mother’s health has failed during the shut down. Visits were limited to phone calls outside her window.   Their Sunday brunches In local restaurants, usually the highlight of her mother’s week, abruptly stopped.

‘’It just wasn’t the same,’’ my friend said  “It just breaks my heart.’’

Her mom died this week, a few days short of her 97th birthday.   Yes, she had a long life but my friend told me that her mother’s caregivers said the affects of COVID-19 were devastating to most nursing home residents.  ‘’People just give up their will to live,’’ the caregivers told her. ‘’They just didn’t want to hang on any longer.’’

So as this highly contagious virus sticks around,  there continues to
be suffering beyond the hospital rooms and gravesite services.  DeSantis decided to open up non-essential businesses weeks ago in defiance of recommendations from the Center for Disease Control.  Our state had not achieved the defined reduction in  COVID-19 cases that would have permitted the reopening.  Nor have some businesses adhered to social distancing guidelines.  

There have been packed bars and restaurants, crowded beaches and no statewide mandates about face masks.  Fortunately some local governments have enacted stricter regulations when it comes to masks and beaches and there is at least a new statewide closing of bars. To make matters worse, the Republican convention will be held in Jacksonville after the GOP decided they could not adhere to the safety measures North Carolina officials demanded. At this writing, it appears that masks will not be required so the convention will be deemed by health officials a ‘’super spreader.’’

Today the St. Lucie County Commission voted to require restaurant and grocery workers to wear masks.  Other businesses can decide on their own what they want to do.  The meeting was raucous at times with residents decrying any efforts to require masks anywhere.   A violation of their constitutional rights, they said. Some even insisted that there was no pandemic.

At this point I have given up hope of leaving our isolated existence any time soon.  I am afraid that until there is a vaccine we vulnerables will remain at risk.  Gov. DeSantis‘s sanctimonious talk about protecting the vulnerable does not impress me at all. If he was really serious about curtailing cases and deaths, he would implement tougher measures that would lead to that flat line of cases.  Until he does, we vulnerables will continue to be fearful of leaving our homes.  And those nursing home family visits will still require a phone. If you are lucky you can see your loved one through a window.  And like my friend, you continue to be broken hearted knowing your mom or dad, aunt or uncle, or dear friend will not be able to socialize with their buddies.  Instead they will stay in their rooms, watching TV and eating their meals alone.