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Culture, View Points

COVID-19 Self-Quarantine Day 4: Protecting the Most Vulnerable

March 16, 2020 by Brian Champlin
Photo by Ethan Prater via Flickr cc

During a press conference yesterday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out new guidelines to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, including the statewide closure of bars, wineries, and nightclubs. He also issued a recommendation for seniors and people with chronic health conditions to isolate themselves.

Isolate. That word sticks.

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Over the past week, I’ve voluntarily chosen to quarantine myself after coming down with what I’d consider mild to moderate cold symptoms. I’m beyond lucky to live with an able-bodied and loving wife who has made trips to the store and cooked a giant vat of chicken soup. But if you’re someone over 65 and you live alone, what a terrifying time this must be.

This morning, I finally felt symptom-free for the first time in five days. I decided to poke my head out the front door and get a breath of fresh air while the dog did his business. From across the street, I spotted my neighbor Lupe, who was walking one of Milo’s best buddies, Lucky. Unfortunately, the pups would not be greeting one another today.

Lupe and I spoke from 30 feet away. I imagine I’ll have a lot of conversations from 30 feet away in the coming weeks. I asked her if she lives alone. She does. Thankfully, her daughters have supplied her with food, which is certainly a relief. But the creases in her face hinted at an overwhelming unease with the whole situation.

I offered her my phone number and told her if she needed anything, please call us. My wife and I are pretty well-stocked, I said. I concluded by telling her that we’re all in this together. We’ll take care of one another. She agreed.

It’s a small thing, but hopefully a good example nonetheless. As the problem we face gets bigger, our worlds will get smaller. And small actions will make a big difference.

On that note, here are some other small suggestions I think are worth considering:

  • Check on friends and neighbors, especially anyone over 65 and definitely anyone who lives alone. Specifically, I would ask seniors about their stock of prescription medications and if they need assistance re-upping that supply.
  • Make an inventory of what you have in the house in terms of supplies and food. Can you spare anything if a neighbor is in need? Remember that LADWP says your tap water is perfectly fine. If you’re short on anything, make a note. Food supply chains are intact. You will have the chance to buy more stuff.
  • Mentally prepare yourself for continued uncertainty over the next few weeks.
  • Share messages of support on social media. I don’t believe in the ‘thoughts and prayers’ approach, but I do believe in crowd psychology. Right now, I think every bit of positive reinforcement helps. The more we follow up with one another, the more the feeling of solidarity will prevail.

Maybe the government seems like it’s falling short right now, at least at the federal level. If that’s the case, then it’s up to friends and neighbors.

Be good to one another.

“The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy, and the handicapped. ” -Hubert H Humphrey

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