Sunday, May 3, 2020

4/17/20: We're All Having Different Experiences of the Pandemic



"Cuidado" means "Careful" in Spanish. Someone in Puebla took the trouble to get a cardboard box, glue florescent paper to it and write "Cuidado!" on it, so that no one tripped on a hole in the pavement. I love the exclamation point crammed in at the end. I am moved by this act of concern for others. May we all look for ways to express kindness.

Right now, I am interrupting my typing to pet Loulou, who is standing next to my chair to make herself available. I do not know how I would manage my social isolation without my pups. Sorry, Loulou. Gotta stop. Morning is Blog time. I need both hands on the computer.

This is the first week that I have done a blog a day, Monday through Friday. It feels good. I'm planning to do it every week and to take the weekend off. As my friend Mary said, "Ter, you have so many opinions, so many ideas, so many experiences, so many stories that you NEED to do a blog every day!"

This is true. Mary turned 71 on Tuesday. Here is the birthday card she drew for herself:
Is this not wonderful? I particularly love the smokestacks with pens in them. I commissioned Mer to do a drawing for me, that I want to give as a gift. Unfortunately, I can't show you the drawing because the person it's for reads this blog and of course I haven't been able to give them the present yet because of the pandemic.

Would you like to commission Mary Wings to do a drawing for YOU? If so, please reply and say so. I will forward it to her. Mary doesn't know that I'm using her birthday drawing in my blog, but I'm always trying to figure out how she can make money from her rather fabulous artistic abilities, and she told me she truly enjoyed working on the commission I gave her.

So. The pandemic. My friend Peter in Rotterdam sent me a link to an article in the New York Times with the title Asthma Is Absent Among Top Covid-19 Risk FactorsPeter sent me this article to reassure me because I have asthma, and I DID find it reassuring, personally. Now, since I stopped using my cortisone inhaler, I'm down to one risk factor: Being old.

So what is the the #1 comorbidity or risk factor for Covid-19? Hypertension, aka high blood pressure. An unusually high percentage of African-Americans have high blood pressure.

And an unusually high percentage of the people dying in this pandemic are African-American. OK, it makes sense for OLD people to die. We're closer to death ANYHOW! But BLACK people? The U.S. might have a smaller proportion of African-Americans when this is over? I don't want to live in a country with fewer black people!

You know, I was going to write a blog about how self-isolating is different for everyone :

  • If you're by yourself or you have a partner
  • If you get along with your partner or not
  • If you have kids at home or you do not
  • If you have a huggable pet or not
  • If you own a car or not
  • If you have a garden or not
  • If you're able to go for a walk or not
  • If you're worried about money or not...

But the REAL difference is between those who are self-isolating and those who cannot make that choice.

SOCIAL DISTANCING IS A PRIVILEGE is the title of Charles Blow's column on this subject in the New York Times. I urge you to read the whole column. I quote from it below.

"We must dispense with the callous message that the best defense we have against the disease is something that each of us can control: We can all just stay home and keep social distance.

As a report last month by the Economic Policy Institute pointed out, “less than one in five black workers and roughly one in six Hispanic workers are able to work from home.

As the report pointed out, “Only 9.2 percent of workers in the lowest quartile of the wage distribution can telework, compared with 61.5 percent of workers in the highest quartile.

If you touch people for a living, in elder care or child care, if you clean their spaces or cook their food, if you drive their cars or build their houses, you can’t do that from home."

I would also add if you grow people's food, pick their food, transport their food, sell their food or deliver their food, you can't do that from home.

Back to Charles Blow:
"Staying at home is a privilege. Social distancing is a privilege.
The people who can’t must make terrible choices: Stay home and risk starvation or go to work and risk contagion."

Phew. Good old Charles Blow. Trust you to speak the truth, to face the elephant in the room. That's the one I glance away from, every time I hear the doorbell and open the door to someone delivering whatever I used to go out and buy myself. Or when I DO go out to buy whatever, rush back home, tear off my clothes and jump in the shower -- not wanting to think about the people who served me who will wait hours and hours before they return to their safe space. I cannot survive in my splendid isolation without them.

Tip them big, people. Tip them big. I don't know what else to do at this moment. We have been living off their labor for so long, it just seems like the normal thing to do. Let us remember them and pray for their health and work to change the terrible inequality in our country.

Okay, Bloggelinis. Don't want to leave you the whole weekend with this very heavy blog. Anyhow, I think I'd like to do a fun blog -- a walk or museum or something -- tomrorrow.

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