Coronageddon: is everyone going overboard?

covid-19 pandemic responsible decision-making social-awareness Mar 13, 2020

Events and gatherings canceled.  Spring break plans ruined. Empty aisles at Walmart, Target, and Costco. Can't find a roll of toilet paper, let alone Clorox wipes or hand sanitizer. Schools shutting down. What the actual *&*#? 

Why is everyone going nuts all of a sudden?  If the risks to my kids and me are pretty low, I shouldn't have to go overboard with these protective measures, right?

The interesting thing about the coronavirus pandemic is our actions are much more about the "we" and not so much about the "I".  Emotional intelligence includes taking care of the inner (me, myself and I), the other (my friends, family and acquaintances), and the outer (our community as a whole). When it comes to COVID-19 prevention, the actions we're asked to take now are less about the risk to us as individuals and more about the impact on society as a whole. We wash our hands neurotically and practice social distancing not because we're worried our kids will get gravely ill, but because you want to protect your elderly neighbor who gives you cookies every holiday season. Or your friend's 38yo husband who needs meds that leave him immunocompromised. Or your great-aunt that lives in an assisted living facility.

By now you've probably heard the term "flattening the curve." If not, check out the GIF above from The Spinoff or this nifty explanation from Global News.  These preventive measures aren't a silver bullet that will stop coronavirus in its tracks. The goal is simply to prevent a manageable problem from turning into a major crisis - slow the spread of coronavirus so it doesn't overwhelm our health system. In a health system that's working at or below capacity, everyone who gets sick can get the care they need. If our health system is overwhelmed, things can switch from mild to deadly pretty quick if there is a shortage of medical staff, equipment, or supplies.

Folks are confused and wondering if all the state and federal mandates mean that coronavirus is deadlier than ever. But the key is that these actions aren't meant to be taken in response to a crisis, you take them to prevent a crisis. If everything works like its supposed to, it'll seem like it was all overkill and unnecessary. But if we don't act now, any action next month could feel like too little too late if a crisis is upon us. Even if we're not worried about ourselves, we have the opportunity to do something to help those we love that are at high risk.

So what can you do to show kindness to your community in response to coronavirus?  Saralyn Ward on TODAY had some excellent suggestions:

  • Donate Locally: If you have enough resources to stock food, you have enough to donate. Buy a few extra jars of peanut butter, some extra noodles and sauce, extra pet food, extra diapers and wipes and take them to your local shelter or action center to help families who can’t afford a trip to the store.
  • Consider Paying Service Workers Anyway: If you have a personal trainer, nanny, massage therapist, housecleaner or other service professional who won’t be able to work for a few weeks, consider paying them regardless. To them, it often means the difference between surviving and thriving.
  • Order Takeout: If you frequent small businesses for breakfast or lunch, and they are staying open for takeout, order to go. Small businesses are sure to take a big hit from less traffic.
  • Offer to Watch Someone’s Child: If schools close and you know a family who can’t find childcare but must go to work, offer to watch their kids. Remember to limit the circle of people you offer this to as increasing contact with others can undermine the benefits of social distancing.
  • Fly and Maybe Even Buy: Check on your elderly and immunocompromised neighbors to see if you can pick up prescriptions, grab some groceries, or run an errand so they don’t have to brave public spaces.
  • Take Advantage of the Teaching Moment: When explaining to your kids why things are cancelled, express your disappointment, but also talk about the reasons why: so that we can make sure Grandma and Grandpa stay healthy, and make sure our sick neighbors don’t get sicker. Kids are born more compassionate than fearful. It’s up to us as parents to cultivate the sense of community that we hope will surround them if they were ever in need.

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