The pandemic doesn’t seem to be budging. It is stretching on an on and on. And it is taking a toll on all of us.
Mentally, and for some physically. It is destabilizing families. Abuse is on the rise and loneliness, stress and anxiety and depression are on the rise.
Unfortunately, there has been too much loss of life and it is easy to feel like we are all sitting in a putrid petri dish for the most part.
But humankind is resilient. Think back at the adversity humanity all over the world has gone through at different times of history.
We bounce back mostly. We can bounce back still but we have to take appropriate action.
There is no denying we are stressed and worried. And as we decide how to navigate our strange new world where one’s singular action like going to a party, or a trip to the store without a mask can make you sick, or make others sick- even lead to loss of life, we cannot run away from the idea of caring for one another.
We need to care and practice compassion as a community.
But how does care look like when we cannot run to our ailing grandma and give her a hug. How does caring as a community really look like?
Caring as a community
We are all in this together and what one person does can impact many more people.
I understand about your right to chose whether to wear a mask or not. But how does this right affect others?
Can we not be so entitled and consider instead the common good?
This entitlement, and misinformation, the rush to reopen and a laissez-faire way of managing this crisis is the reason the virus is raging right now.
We all can cooperate and beat this thing so we can finally go back to normal. Pretending the virus is not real, and listening to false people with an agenda will not help.
Research and science are what will help.
And those are the only experts we need to listen to during this pandemic.
Has there ever been a politician without an agenda? A good doctor’s agenda is health only. Your health.
We have many good doctors on the front lines. Learn to discriminate the good the bad and the false. It is imperative.
So as I reflected on this I wondered how caring really looks like during the pandemic. And this is what I think caring means and looks like during this pandemic.
Let’s begin by practicing our very own self-care.
Taking appropriate action
Caring during the pandemic is consciously taking action not only to protect yourself from being infected but also to protect others.
And just in case anyone this far into the pandemic still wonders how to do this, let’s just make this quite clear.
First, for humanity’s sake please wear the mask when you have to be around other people.
Yes, that means wearing a mask when you go to the store and other such public places.
And yes, it also means not trying to fight some essential worker trying to uphold the instructions he/she has been given for the benefit of your health and mine.
Secondly, it is immature, selfish, ridiculous, and acting like a spoilt 2year old when you go to the store or restaurant and stop and rave because they won’t serve you without a mask.
You are grown. Act like it. Grown people should have the understanding that sometimes we have to do things for the greater good.
Thirdly, can we all stop with the propaganda that masks dont work?
Are we going to believe the scientists or the laypeople who have never seen a microorganism under a microscope or have a clear understanding of the disease process?
But if you are so worried about breathing in too much carbon dioxide, then please breathe oxygen in the comfort of your home because your attempt at breathing in public maskless is a sure way to make others sick. Or even getting yourself infected.
So yes, let’s show care for others by wearing the masks.
You may be saving lives by a simple action that only inconveniences you for only a short time. And one if not taken can change another’s life, even take it away. Let’s be considerate.
And while on the topic of the mask, can we please wear the mask correctly? Your nose out and mask under your chin is not really wearing a mask.
Another very important element in protecting our communities and showing care is of course practicing careful hand hygiene.
Sing that ABC song or scrub your hands often for at least 20 seconds every time.
Supporting our essential workers
This pandemic has been an eye-opener about the essential role of workers in various industries.
We are now realizing how important it is for us to have grocery store workers, farmworkers, people who work in places many dont think about like meatpacking industries.
Ofcourse if we all do our part wearing masks and social distancing, it also means these essential workers dont get exposed to COVID as well.
They have to work so we can eat and the more of us flouting the rules means more exposure to our essential workers.
And also most important is the employers in these industries doing the responsible thing.
Dont force workers to come back to work even when sick.
There should be support systems in place like good compensation for sick time and even support with supplies such as food and other necessities should one become sick.
Additionally, caring in the workplace is ensuring there is enough space between employees who have to continue going to work as they cannot work from home.
Employers need to have protocols in place for reporting and testing as well as ensuring there is space at work to socially distance and following all the CDC guidelines.
Considering carefully the question of in-person school
This one bothers me alot. First of all, we are asking little kids to wear a mask for 6 hours. 6 hours?
I know, yes, we have the economy to consider. And we are worried about learning loss.
And I know if children are at home parents cannot go to work or they have to send children to daycare where they have to wear a mask too. But can we please give people including teachers a choice?
And this one is not easy, for if a parent chooses to send their child to school, there has to be a teacher there and the teacher has to want to be there.
In my opinion, in-person teaching is plainly hazardous with COVID raging like it.
Can you also imagine 6-year-olds remembering to social distance? And if the children get sick we must remember they will go home to parents, grandparents, and others.
We must show care by considering this question carefully. We shouldn’t go back to in-person schooling for political reasons. Children and teachers shouldn’t be a political-economic sacrifice.
This is where community leaders such as principals and school districts need to come up with viable plans that will help educators to go on, without risking the lives of teachers, children, and the community at large.
Caring for our health care workers
I am a nurse so I know what it is like to have to take care of a heavy patient load. More often than not the units are understaffed.
Now imagine having to take care of even more patients and more of those who are critically ill with covid while always wondering every day you go to work if that is the day you will get sick. The day you are going to contract a disease that can easily kill you.
Now imagine going home to your loved ones wondering if you are transmitting COVID to your babies, your husband, your aged and ailing parent and other family members.
Let’s face it. Short of living somewhere else for the duration of however long it takes for COVID to go away, as a health care worker, you always have to be fearful for your self and those you love.
And this is why as a community member we need to do ALL we can (including wearing a mask) to protect ourselves so we dont end up in the hospital. Those nurses and doctors already had full patient loads before COVID.
And there is something else. Other non-COVID patients also need ICUs.
There are only so many beds.
And if you or your loved one needs that ICU bed and the doctor had to decide who gets it and who doesn’t get a chance and likely die, would you like it if you are the one told well, we cant help you?
Dont put doctors in that position.
It is already hard enough to take care of sick people without choosing who dies and who lives.
So taking care during this time means taking measures to make the job of those who care for the sick manageable.
Keep in mind as you go about in public that some people dont show any signs of COVID and are yet infectious. Protecting others is why we need to wear masks, distance, and even stay home.
Can you imagine if we took such an action for a month and we all cooperate, this virus would die out?
Taking care of our vulnerable populations
Caring during this pandemic is helping meet the basic needs of those who are vulnerable in our communities. We can do this as individuals and do things like shopping for the elderly, either in-store shopping or through Instacart.
We can check to see if they need help with meals and provide cooked meals, but ofcourse maintaining social distance.
Taking food to food banks to be distributed to those who are hit hard by this pandemic and have lost income is a way to show we care.
We can also just deliver food and necessities to families and individuals in need directly and ofcourse making sure to distance when we deliver.
Caring during this pandemic is ensuring the frail and elderly in nursing homes are receiving good care and support is given to these facilities to make this possible.
I have worked in a nursing home and it is hard to distance. That means patients have to be in their rooms alot and that is hard on the mind. These folks are normally lonely. Now that makes them lonelier without the social activities normally offered.
We can help them speak with loved ones through video chats and if an in-person visit has to happen visitors must be screened well. They must as well be equipped with PPE.
Enough already with the irresponsibility in high places. We need leadership that cares about people first. Making decisions solely for purposes of political gain is irresponsible.
Leadership needs to step up and lead by caring.
Take action that first and foremost stops the spread. I know we all need our jobs.
We all need the economy to be healthy. But the economy cannot be healthy if the people are not.
When so many die, who is going to work?
And really, can we tell people the truth? Lying so numbers look good can only fool people for so long.
Caring in the times of COVID requires leaders who tell the truth and who are willing to do the hard work even taking the unpopular position if needed.
Let people know they will be taken care of so they dont have to rush back to work and try to hide fevers.
Extend care and provisions to those vulnerable populations who it turns out are our essential workers.
Can you imagine the cost of the food if we didn’t have the farmworkers?
Yet these essential people to our well being are going to work sick and making others sick because if they dont go to work, they have no other recourse.
Additionally, it may be a good idea to stop all visits for 14 to 19 days to facilities like jails, prisons, and nursing homes.
And testing the populations in these facilities including the workers and isolating all who test positive.
While testing is still slow at the moment, it is necessary to isolate all who show any signs at the outset.
We have to be mindful that while nursing home patients may be confined and so are inmates, they do have people who work there and visitors, who then go to the community.
So outbreaks of COVID in these facilities are a problem for all of us. Just because someone is in prison, they should not be committed to die if that was not their sentence.
These facilities need to be given the provisions to provide appropriate care for these populations.
Daily screening and isolation and medical care should is a must if we are to halt the spread of COVID there and to the larger community.
Minding our collective mental health
Photo courtesy of Canva Pro
Finally, caring during pandemic means practicing self-care. We need to take time to keep our minds healthy as we isolate. Take time each day to do something that eases anxious thoughts.
It may be calling a friend and doing facetime.
We need to reach out to our friends and loved ones and check on them often.
We can practice self-care for our mental health by taking up gardening.
Gardening is very therapeutic.
We can listen to music, read a book, or just sit down with a cup of tea or coffee.
Things are tough for all and people are suffering mentally, from isolation and other hardships like job loss, worry, and uncertainty.
But when we talk to one another, when we feel loved and remembered, then we feel better. It helps to know we are not alone in this.
We all need support, mentally, and emotionally.
And while this is not quite an exhaustive guide in our communal caring, that is generally how caring during COVID 19 looks like. Let’s care for each other.