Edited for readability Friday, April 3, 2020: paragraph headings and graphics.
In like a lion and out like a lamb?
Thursday, April 2, 2020
As a content writer and editor of this site it’s often harrowing experience trying to come up with information that is relevant and important to the overall style and content of a site. Most people that start a site or business have large teams or several people executing decisions or collaborating to make a project run. And that makes development swift and changes massive. Entrepreneurs can be light and lithe and turn on a dime, but they also have massive responsibilities that they otherwise wouldn’t have if they worked for someone else. Often a person that comes in and clocks in a 9 to 5 job is a regular hourly worker that is also in some cases salaried. He or she has someone tell that person exactly where to sit, when they have to be there, how to do the work, when to take breaks and what time to eat lunch, etc. Compare this to an independent contractor that has more control over the work and how it is done and personal responsibility. These two type of classifications: independent contractor / self employed versus worker have many implications when it comes to various things like treatment of benefits as well as tax implications.
However, for our purposes today we’re just talking about how you as a person in the daily grind may be feeling in this time of coronavirus and Covid-19 pandemic uncertainty. Last week we learned at least 3.3 million filed for unemployment in the week before last in America according to sources like New York Times and WaPo (Washington Post) and CNBC with Bloomberg setting it at 3.28 but when rounded to two significant digits. Today Wall Street Journal, Yahoo, NY Post and various others stated that 6.6 million filed for the week just preceding this week. And so that adds up to about 10 million unemployed. According to Wikipedia and Worldometer the population in the United States of America is about 330 million. So to put all that in perspective that means about 3 percent (or 10 million divided by 330 million) are currently out of a job and applying for government benefits. Obviously this figure may be higher for those that may not have applied for benefits or may not necessarily qualify or know how to apply. France’s population is about 65 million. And Germany’s population is about 83 million. So that mean that it would be about 15 percent of France’s population in comparison. Still that’s a lot of people. And we’re using Worldometer’s site figures for the most recent 2019 and 2020 data.
If you compare the unemployment figures to total Covid-19 cases, the infectious cases still are less than a million people in size thankfully. But with the number of active cases per Worldometers.info and what’s been projected in the news there are thoughts that actual deaths could end up to be half or all the individuals infected because a projected 100k to 200k figure was quoted for the U.S. Numbers will continue to jump of course with testing and confirmation. But it is of course necessary to do this body count and illness tally as morbid as it seems to estimate how fast this is growing in order to head off the spread of the disease.
The USA is getting close to 250,000 cases while Italy and Spain both have about 100k cases each.
Personal Protective Equipment – Geared for battle
Many conferences have been going on with talks in the news by doctors, governor sound bites and even local individuals. The situation continues to evolve with new information. In fact recently we saw trending on Twitter that there was discussion whether the spread of the disease can be slowed with wearing facial masks or protective coverings. It was said in an article referencing the director general for the CDC in the Asian center that one of the biggest mistakes being made was the lack of face masks according to the director’s opinion. However the U.S. surgeon general was tweeting to stop purchases of the masks to prevent people from hoarding them so that health care professionals could use them. The worry was that these people would not have the protections when going into the front lines and become exposed to the virus while attempting to save another person’s life. As described by many including the leader of the Western free world, “warriors” these doctors and nurses were going into the front lines of battle selflessly while donning protective gear when they could, using protocol but resorting to creative to throw themselves on top of someone that needed chest compressions or whatever it was to save lives but exposing themselves to the the deadly virus in the process. The personal protective gear or equipment is analogous to bullet proof military gear and the aerosoled virus equivalent to the mine fields and bullets and tear gas of wars. These nurses and techs and medical assistants are bombarded by projectiles of various particulates from coughs, sneezes, and vomit, etc.
The trend has been that this will be a vicious battle much like the Vietnam and Korean wars. Which is why often the leaders have been nicknamed “wartime leaders”. Rather than machine gunnery and turrets, our industries have converted and rolled out ventilators, N95 masks, and personal protective equipment to assist our frontline infantry of medical professionals that are doing their best against this sea of red and increasing death count. Industries such as Ford, GM and Tesla, 3M and GE have all jumped in to this industrial mobilization effort to get out the much needed equipment. This is a world wide effort. This is after a pandemic and you could argue one of the first viral world wars of its kind.
As such, much has been discussed about the economic front. Trillions have been injected to prop up the economy as millions are out of work. They can’t go in due to much hotly debated stay-at-home orders or stay in place mandates. Most will not argue that it is indeed necessary to stop the invisible virus from hitchhiking onto a new host and spreading faster and further. But some question how this should be implemented to create the least impact. However, the problem is that the invisible viral boogeyman has already penetrated past our fortress and we’ve let our guard down and it’s entered through our garden and standing outside our door. We can not let up or let off the importance of stopping this “infestation”.
In those Vietnam and Korean wars there was also much political discontent and discord and strife. Those that favored continued involvement and those that did not. Unfortunately once the gears of war have started there can only be binary outcomes. Either we’re fully successful at containment and winning against further destruction, or we let off and surrender to the ravages of the viral outbreak and resultant carnage whatever that may be. There is a trend online of people that are in disbelief and doubt just as in any period. People will formulate odd theories and rationalization and anything to avoid confronting conflict head-on in some cases. This can be said to be equivalent some of the Kübler-Ross models as stated in her book On Death and Dying. There’s denial, anger, and bargaining to resolve cognitive dissonance of beliefs a person has of something. And perhaps people like to formulate alternative beliefs such as:
- This viral thing is not as big as it is.
- I won’t get this illness
- I don’t need to take precautions.
- I don’t need to wear a mask even though it may protect against tranmissions of aerosols.
- I don’t have any symptoms and so must not have it.
- It seems really bad in the news but it can’t possibly cross the Atlantic / Pacific ocean to my country.
- The broadcasts probably are making it seem worse than it is.
- I don’t need to prepare or worry about staying at home or self-quarantining or social distancing.
Re-examining beliefs intelligently
These are all questions that are legitimate to ask. One should of course be skeptical but never “stupid” or “ignorant”. Take the idea of precautions. There has been much debate about facial protections. And some even argue that using it can bring false sense of protection or invincibility or it could harbor moisture or cause you to adjust your mask and touch your face more. Or some worry about hoarding and other perceived negative aspects. One thing perhaps not mentioned is just the idea of “slight inconvenience” and perceived loss of liberty or just that it may make us not seem cool or make others judge us. As we’ve seen some instances where a person was misjudged by a random bystander as not needing a mask and given a mean comment about simply having one. Westerners perhaps have this thing that we’re open and don’t really need face coverings and all that and probably have never had to have one. But as a LA mayor recently mentioned to the population, this may be the new normal and we may need these masks simply because we need to look out not only for ourselves but our neighbors. When you see an oxygen mask deploy in an airplane what do the stewardesses tell you to do? Put it on yourself first before you can even think of helping someone else, because what good is it if you’re incapacitated. And what good is being mad at someone else who may have a mask because they are trying to either protect their own family or themselves or have a compromise immune system etc.
During war times and difficult times the good, the bad and the ugly come out of the woodwork and you see people act even more erratically and sometimes in self interest and magnified. And often humans are irrational and even when given orders or mandates will come up with additional questions always. Examples include wanting to limit large assemblies and congregations to spread physical disease. You would think it would make sense to not do that in special circumstances but some will continue to want to gather because they have this belief that it does not apply to them and they are invincible and also their actions won’t affect someone in a negative way. All actions do have consequences and ripple effects.
Preparation needs to happen far ahead of time
Another side point is that we got to this point through gradual reduction of some of the funding and organizations for health and pandemics around the world. We must always keep contingencies of all kinds for economic, health, and production line / supply chains. Or world is increasingly interconnected and we rely on so many other countries for production of goods and supplies including oil, toilet paper, safety and survival products. And each person and country should owe it to themselves to always have a plan B and backup for worse case scenarios. Yes we have industries able to ramp up and convert production or bring in big bright scientists or return them from retirement, but the time to purchase and have a fire extinguisher is not when the house is burning but all is calm. History will see that people and leaders that “didn’t know what this virus was capable of doing”, didn’t take the mental steps to prepare for what-if scenarios. Perhaps emergency plans should always be there as insurance, quietly invisible, but readily available when needed.
Locally our state has had many schools closures extended to May, some places considering June and August. Elections are postponed and delayed. Meals and restaurants have changed operations. Hobby stores ordered closed, grocery stores and post offices putting up plastic partitions including demarcation of six feet of space to remind customer traffic of social distancing. People are still going to and from work from essential services. Bans on travel are still in effect. There are too many videos and people upset and sickly ill to say that this is not happening. And yet people still will deny the reality. Perhaps they just can’t deal. A new way of society has started for some time and renters have been given more time. Landloard and mortgages have been postponed including evictions. Things have converted to delivery and touchless pickup for many. And there has been accomodations made for the elderly and at-risk to be able to get their items early in the day and be the first to get things in stock at the beginning first hour of the day so they are not exposed to as many people as well. Our whole society has had to convert to online learning and many people have considered automation and Zoom conference calls. With all these come positives and negatives and unintended consequences. For instance Zoom a popular video conferencing app for iPhones had people drop into their chat feed to “videobomb” the stream with unsolicited explicit content much to the dismay of the participants. This was caused by certain permission issues in the programs. Other unintended consequences include having to change funeral and wedding plans with some people that had intended to get married to have to delay the big ceremony to some time in the future while having the legal paperwork formalized now.
People are still going to parks. People are still going shopping albeit currently only for essentials as no one is out going to amusement parks, theaters and movies. People are even wondering if it’s all real or just a dream. And so people are trying to be creative, learn how to love their family and significant other again because they don’t have the commute to work any more. They have to learn to conserve more of their toilet paper and make more food at home. They have to learn to order food or patronize their favorite places differently. People that have lost jobs have to learn to create new opportunities for themselves in the gig economy. They have to learn to appreciate what they have but also show more mercy to those trying to get by as many have experienced job losses, reduction in hours, and even massive 401k losses and liquidation. This is not something that we can just throw a dart on some point in a calendar as we’re no longer completely in control and that’s what scares people into disbelief and trying to come up with some way to rationalize or exert influence over their situation. They come up with theories that it’s some big master plan or a secret way of keeping everyone at home and installing various infrastructure or other theories because they don’t know what’s going on and they get conflicting reports from people that they’ve placed trust and authority in and so don’t know what they believe. And that’s why at this point in time good information is so important.
Talking heads – everyone has an opinion, believes they are experts
There’s good dialogue out there. This includes trying to find more supplies or getting more pay to the front line workers and also the people that are out of work or need it or how to create less of a burden for people getting stimulus money by not making them file tax returns but using most recent information and their recent accounts. There’s useful information about being aware of people that may prey on the vulnerable with scams and fraud including mail fraud for stimuluses or fake coronavirus in-home testing scams.
Then there is also dialogue that is a bit out there. That starts to diverge and leave the realm of reality and goes into wishful thinking and conspiracies and made up information that temporarily makes a person feel more knowledgeable and gives them hope, but may end up leaving a person more misinformed and later have to reconcile information later. It’s Easter bunny and Santa Claus information with no factual basis or proof that relies on faith or sheer will. A few examples:
- This virus will just go away by itself.
- The deadly cases are just extreme cases being overly sensationalized.
There’s likely more out there on “the Bird” or social media or other alternative channels, but at some point you have to deal with reality and face the music and bite the bullet. This illness has caused a change in the way society operates. There’s lockdowns and declarations across multiple countries and states etc all working independently of each other and whether you acknowledge this pandemic or not it will spread and affect your life regardless of your beliefs.
Taking individual responsibility – Help is on the way (maybe)
There needs to be individual and collective responsibility to work together. The doctors and nurses that are working and putting their lives at risk and working to ensure everyone stays healthy – to them this is reality. The governors and mayors and everyday workers and packers and truck drivers and janitors and sanitation workers and grocery workers – this is reality to them. And the people that have to wait for their treatment or were waiting to get services that are now impossibly and uncertainly delayed for the forseeable upcoming months (such as people needing haircuts, or buying and renting houses, or planned on getting weddings, or were going to perform Olympics, or the people that had rehearsed for that play or orchestra concert, or wanted to walk down the aisle of a graduation ceremony, etc). They are all delayed. And this is their reality. And this is your reality right now.
Life has irreversibly changed some how
A few months ago myself I had planned to buy a new television set to furnish my place but now in home delivery is delayed and they only deliver to the front door. And the location may have also closed down due to finances of all these places having to shutter in person services. And also I’ve wanted to order items from Amazon but they are delayed or on back order and not sure if I should wait till after everything blows over for fear of contaminants of box surfaces. These are challenging difficult times everyone keeps saying because it truly affects and changes the way things operate. And this is just from the Western World. How does it affect places like in Europe? Italy talks about deaths daily. How is it affecting India with billions under stay-at-home orders too?
Life will not be the same for some time as schools have basically cancelled for the rest of the year and many companies will have different financial outlooks for the year. Unfortunately you can look at unverified theories to explain cognitive dissonance for why bad things happen. Why random things happen and meanings that explain life’s randomness. And sadly, you may never get that. In life we try to explain things away and find logic and rational to make life make sense. Maybe he/she wasn’t into me? Maybe if things had been different. Maybe if that event had happened at a different time and place. We rationalize things as best as we can. It attempts to give us hope. And the good thing is for some it gives them some glimmer of hope so they can come to closure and move on. And for others it only serves to muddy things or confuse things further and leave them in a wasted search for meaning that later comes back in a full circle and having to reprogram and unlearn their beliefs and rationale.
Or as the old saying goes. Sometimes – Life’s like that. And sh*t happens.
Maintaining certainty and keeping it in perspective
To give you more control in your life if you’re feeling like life has uncertainty right now:
- Stay connected with family and continue to talk to friends.
- Continue to work on work and passions and pursuits that you can while still meeting federal and state guidelines on health and social distancing
- Find old projects and hobbies or take up new ones. Perhaps puzzles, and creative projects like knitting, wood working, crocheting, gardening, washing that motorcycle.
- Learn and instrument
- Talk to family and do things together including cooking and talking about your feelings about things and emergency plans
- Talk about what you want to do when things get somewhat back to normal including travel or vacations together
- Continue to exercise and get in 30 minutes to an hour if you can to stay healthy.
- Consider starting a home based business
- Stay in touch through social media or reach out via telephone to friends
- Continue to patronize your local grocery stores and favorite delivery places from time to time. They also need people and customers and are happy to see and serve you.
- Limit the amount of news from time to time such as only watching the news once a day so you don’t become overwhelmed.
- Do something calming like reading a book or light yoga
- Catch up on sleep and skip some of the caffeine on the weekends
- Take a relaxing bath or shower
This is just a short, not exhaustive list. You can probably come up with more great ideas.
Remember that right now, reality is that we have to change some of our habits around. But change can be a good thing and a way to new and better habits and beginnings.
We’re all adapting and changing as we go and so you’re not alone.
And we all need to work on getting through these tough times with as much compassion and support as possible. Good luck to you all.