As I write, the number of people infected with Covid 19 is climbing. Of course, we haven’t got a clue of what exactly are the proportions of the pandemic in the US, because the federal government has done a terrible job of deploying that most basic of tools: tests.
That means that all of us, and our city and state governments, must take matters into our hands and practice the most basic of precautions: excellent hygiene, and “social distancing.” In other words, stay home.
And here we come to one of the most heart-breaking points: this disease is already making clear the disparity between those of us who can afford to stay home, whose employers will continue to pay us and fund our health care; those of us who can pay for food and for babysitting.
For those on the margins of staying afloat, things look much worse. What’s going to happen when over a half million Americans will be cut from the SNAP benefits program at the end of this month, for instance? What about remote schooling for the millions of children who do not have access to computers? Or the workers whose jobs have little to do with the digital world? The questions are endless.
We have to show what we are made of, during this viral contagion. Can we be compassionate, generous, mindful and calm? Or will we descend into hysteria, hoarding, and panic? Each and every one of us has a responsibility to do the right thing.
The team at Moms Clean Air Force is working from home, or, as they say, “remotely.” Its odd: I’m used to this way of working, as I’ve been running Moms from my kitchen table, or wherever I plunk down my laptop.
But I’ve worked from home knowing that others are in offices, seeing one another, joining at meetings, meeting politicians in the halls of Congress, or testifying in person against the Trump administration’s radical agenda to cripple health protections. Exactly the mentality that led, a few years back, to the dismantling of the Obama era federal response teams to pandemics.
Now there is no normal life, or normal work flow. I’m suddenly aware of how very different each one of my friends’ and colleagues’ responses are, and I feel very respectful of varying degrees of anxiety — or insouciance. That’s fine; so long as we make sure none of our actions are putting others in harm’s way.
I can offer a few tips for the inevitable isolation one feels from social distancing: stay in touch, throughout the day, with friends and family. We are so lucky to have the connectivity of the Internet. Stay up on the news. Get outside and take walks, stay in motion. Even, perhaps, plant a flower.
Donate canned and dried foods to a local food bank, or whoever in your area helps people in need of sustenance. Ask your elderly neighbors if you can go on a grocery run for them.
We will continue to fight on behalf of our children’s health and safety in the face of air pollution that kills so many people every single month. We will continue to fight to put a stop to the climate pollution that is also wreaking havoc globally — and for which we are also completely unprepared.
But for right now, we will link arms, and hearts, where we can, to protect one another as best we can.