Bridging the Divided

Pandemic Paranoia…..

Day 5 of the statewide stay-at-home order. I am working from home. Social isolation gives one more time to ponder the nuances of our current world. 

Many high-risk and non-essential people are working within virtual environments these days. Can someone come up with a term other than ‘non-essential’ employees, please? ‘Non-essential’ sounds as if one doesn’t matter, their contribution isn’t needed, they will be declared obsolete as the casualties of the post-pandemic world are sorted out. 

Across the nation, schools have closed and kids are being taught in the home. Kids are not the only ones learning. Adults are also adding to their lexicon. Who knew adding to our vocabularies was a perk of a pandemic? Social distancing, telehealth, virtual conferencing and stay-at-home orders are common words and phrases found within the fabric of everyday conversations now. And how many people even knew what a pandemic was until we were in its grasp?

The doctors we see on the news every day report the majority of COVID-19 deaths are in the high-risk populations with underlying health conditions. How many underlying health conditions does one need to be at risk of dying? Two? Three? No specific ages are given either while announcing the latest victims, just ‘over 60’, or ‘in their 60’s’. What does that mean? 61, 65, closer to 70? Is my paranoia showing?

And speaking of paranoia, does anyone feel like they are living in an episode of ‘The Walking Dead”? We aren’t dodging killer zombies, though, that’s child’s play. Our enemies cannot be seen with the naked eye, are lurking about waiting for the opportunity to pounce on an unsuspecting host. We need a bit more stealth, more subtle weapons than guns and machetes. The courageous venture out armed with wet wipes, sanitizer, and face masks, if one is fortunate enough to find them. Again, think “The Walking Dead”. Remember Rick and his band of merry men foraging through abandoned grocery stores and pharmacies for needed supplies? Our supply lists are slightly more sophisticated. Isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel for homemade sanitizer, colorful cloths to make handcrafted masks, and the ever-elusive roll of toilet paper. I don’t ever recall Rick and Daryl risking their lives for toilet paper. What did they use? Maybe nothing, or worse, their hands. Ewwww! Make some sanitizer for heaven’s sake!

I don’t mind grocery shopping as a general rule, but in our current brave new world, I am terrified. Seriously. Every person encountered up and down the aisles could be a one-way pass to the ICU. The last time I was in a grocery store my brain superimposed images of walking time bombs ready to explode any minute onto the other shoppers. Hearing a cough behind me sent me into a near frenzy, I couldn’t escape fast enough. Not entirely sure why I went in the first place, nearly every shelf and freezer were empty. What are people doing with all the stuff? Even during a complete lockdown, we would be allowed to go out for groceries. No ramen on the shelves, I get that. Most of us probably still have some sitting around from our college days. But, no flour or yeast on the shelves? Are people actually baking their own bread?

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, dim though it may be. We will survive, most of us anyway, which is a sobering thought and I don’t allow myself to go there often. The good news is on the other end of the tunnel, the mental health business will be thriving, and post-pandemic stress disorder will be added to our growing vocabulary…..

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