Mr. Murdoch, what are your orders?
Full ahead and no course change, Mr. Hichens. Let’s see if Titanic lives up to her press!
It’s abundantly clear that the social distancing effort will be abandoned and the process of “re-opening” will move ahead, damn the cost. The question now is this: what accommodations should we make to live in a society which demands that life returns to pre-pandemic patterns despite the ongoing presence of the virus that disrupted those patterns in the first place?
My family’s personal adjustments will be driven by what we decide because there is no longer any meaningful public health guidance from the government. The incompetency is glaring and stunning, all the money that we have invested over decades in a federal public health infrastructure to help manage such events completely pissed away. After ignoring and downplaying the virus so that the impact was worsened, the President finally issued a framework for managing a return of societal functions over a two week period of virus metric declines. Only a day later, he undermined it with a series of tweets to “Liberate” three separate states from social distancing and lockdown measures. That none of these three states even came close to meeting the new guidelines was irrelevant.
The majority of states are now moving ahead with “re-opening” despite any lack of control of the virus that even meets the President’s own metrics. Neither is there any meaningful testing to ascertain the spread of the virus until it shows up to burn through through a locality’s hospitals. Indeed, the President has effectively removed any public health aspect from this process by shelving the guidelines set out by the CDC. The guidance for a public health pandemic is now managed solely by political and economic criteria.
What is happening is, in a sense, a darkly hilarious irony. A verbose and gun-toting minority – in their fear of any potential abridgment of their preferred freedoms under the Bill of Rights – embraces and lifts up a Chief Executive who has actively transferred all responsibility for management and action for a national crisis to the states, resurrecting a style of government which existed last under the post-revolutionary Articles of Confederation.
You remember that one? Yeah, that one.
The one without a Bill of Rights.
Because things can’t get any more local than the molecular level of the family, what might we consider? The important point to remember is that we must somehow lessen our risk and decrease our exposure to the virus if we cannot socially distance or isolate ourselves.
First, consider how to manage with elderly parents and other relatives. What are the contact and exposure rules if you have to visit or take them to appointments? What is the status of their paperwork and executors? What is the default plan in the event of your own illness?
Second, make sure that the personal affairs are in order. Take to heart the philosophy of The Next Man Up. Assure that the wills and various powers of attorney are in order should they have to be utilized. This also means considering the inclusion of secondary executors and decision-makers. Note the critical passwords and pass that information to your executor. While the virus most impacts the elderly and immune-compromised, there are all age levels in the ICU and even children are being affected with their own issues.
Third, make a re-usable mask part of the daily routine. The notion of a truly disposable mask is dead as even healthcare providers are having to extend their usage for lack of availability. I don’t know enough about the availability of gloves but anticipate that I will save those for high traffic public areas such as grocery stores.
Fourth, assure that there is hand sanitizer in every vehicle and use it after each venture out of the vehicle. That also means finding an alternative source for hand sanitizer and re-using the existing bottles if the replacement sanitizer comes in large quantity containers.
Fifth, consider the use of a small notebook in the glove compartment to note where I’ve been on different days in the event that I contract Covid-19 and contact tracing efforts are made.
Sixth, broaden the family’s food supply chain so that there’s not a complete dependence on the grocery store. If possible, plant a garden or join a CSA to provide a wider access to a dependable source of food. Even within the grocery store, consider widening your preferential supply chain by purchasing food items not being purchased by everyone else.
Seventh, what is the process for returning home from work or another outside exposure? This is a real thing for healthcare workers in hard-hit areas because they don’t want to expose their own families. What processes should you adopt within the household? It might range from disrobing in the garage and leaving clothing in the laundry room prior to a shower, to a simple hand-washing upon returning home.
Eighth, decide whether the trip or errand is worth the exposure. Do a more thorough job of planning so that only one trip is required instead of multiple return trips. If it isn’t necessary, is it sufficiently important enough to justify the exposure? Visiting a movie theater might not be worth the risk, but traveling out of state to take a kid to college for the first time? That would likely be worth the risk with proper precautions. Assuming that it happens, of course.
Ninth, reconsider the shopping habits. In this environment, ignore the economic establishment thinking that the public is hoarding cash and ratchet down the discretionary spending to what is necessary. If you do have money available for discretionary spending, then give serious thought to directing it to the food banks that are now serving a significant portion of our citizenry. Consider another charity or simply rebuild your own finances to your comfort level. If you shop online to avoid exposure in a bricks-and-mortar store, decide if Amazon is the go-to site or if it’s possible to spread that cash to other online stores instead of further enriching Jeff Bezos.
This is meant to be a point-of-departure for the planning moving forward instead of an exhaustive and comprehensive list. Consider your own circumstances and risk tolerances. But do it now so that you are ready for when the re-opening takes place.