Letters From Lockdown (2) – Coronavirus Life-Saving Courtesy

Stepping Aside Can Save a Life

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This is the second “Letters From Lockdown” of those I’m posting on Thrive Global.

Suggestions and ideas in these letters derive from my years as a professor of preventive medicine and observations as we all adjust our lives to fight this pandemic.

My husband, Chris, and I went out for a walk a few days ago.  It was a beautiful day. We live in a fairly rural area and didn’t expect much bobbing and weaving around people.  

We found that it was sometimes difficult to keep a distance from others.  Some groups filled the entire sidewalk. Going around them meant stepping into the road or into thick grass — which we did.  

I didn’t sense that most of the people in our path intended to be inconsiderate. They were busy talking. Also, many of us still feel awkward about moving away from others. So, it occurred to me that we could use a set of coronavirus courtesy guidelines to save lives.

Here are a few:

If you come across an older person, whether silver-haired or not, step aside and let them pass or go around them from at least the recommended distance — even if you’re asymptomatic and/or sure you don’t have the virus.

Don’t take up paths or sidewalks with your family and friends as anyone approaches — not just older people.

Don’t stop to admire babies or pet dogs. A greeting from afar and a smile will do. We could all use that connection right now.

Try adopting the perspective of those cultures that intensely value seniors. A friend of mine said yesterday, “This is all we need.  Older people are already seen as an annoyance.” Hey, they raised us, loved us, contributed to society.  Let’s get a grip here.

If you are senior, be appreciative of gestures made to protect you with a nod or smile. Have food delivered to your door without you being there to chat. Perhaps express gratitude from a window — keeping your distance.

We’re living in a different world now and for the foreseeable future. Courtesy and consideration of a new type can save lives and still allow us to be both civil and caring.

We simply need to be mindful.   We’re in this together.

That’s it for now. Be safe, Kathleen

An earlier version of this letter was posted at

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