Service of Sensible Measures: How to React to a Crisis

March 12th, 2020

Categories: Crisis, Economy, Events, Illness, Panic

Grand Central Terminal that’s losing its reputation as a crowded place.

Coronavirus has increasing nasty, damaging ramifications: Its super-contagious nature; the threat of quarantining people for 14 days if exposed or sick; the potential long-lasting crushing economic consequences; the seminal changes to education as more and more colleges are closing dorms for weeks after spring break and moving students online for instruction if they haven’t already done so and for the near future sports, entertainment and expos–to the trade or consumers–won’t be the same. What about young children and their working parents should the kids be forced to stay home? Will imports/exports be stopped? One of the worst aspects: the fuzzy, ad hoc nature of the strategy to contain the virus.

Photo: phase.com

Will we remain helpless, grasping at straws, improvising in a scattershot way for the year we must wait for a vaccine? Can someone please facilitate production and delivery of test kits for the virus, hand sanitizer and face masks? Manhattan is also bereft of the latter two.

Any good ideas, Mr. President and team?

In my apartment building tenants must pick up takeout food in the lobby as delivery people are not allowed upstairs. A week ago the manager installed a hand sanitizer dispenser in the vestibule by the elevators.

You’ve heard the expression “As busy as Grand Central Station?” If this keeps up, it will be meaningless. Please see the photo I took yesterday at the top of the post.  And doors to the terminal and the Rite Aid drugstore inside are left open [photos below left and right] so people don’t have another handle on which to spread or from which to catch germs. The doors normally are not left open but nothing’s normal.

Doors to Grand Central not usually left open

Some friends called off vacations, [while one left for India as scheduled and I wonder what her return in a few days will be like], and others, planning to cover industry events, aren’t going because their meetings or trade shows have been deep-sixed or their employers withdrew their OK for travel/attendance. Venues such as hospital and church community rooms have pulled the plug on professional or educational gatherings for now yet a trade show in Manhattan next week so far is expected to go forward. A friend who pooh-poohs 99 percent of every danger said he was working at home for the next few days to avoid the train commute.

And for me? I’ve always used my knuckle to select my floor in an elevator but I’ve never before washed my hands as much. I bought a large container of peanut butter should I be quarantined or ill so I don’t have to bother anyone if I run out of other food. [Truth: I’ll probably finish the jar long before the crisis is over.] I picked up an extra bottle of prescription meds in the event there’s a delivery glitch in the near future and the last 2 bottles of CVS-brand hand sanitizer. I gave one away. I’m not doing laundry in the communal laundry room at my apartment and I’m hand-washing as much as I can.

I wasn’t soothed by the NY Metropolitan Transit Authorities’ warning–without proposing viable alternatives–that citizens avoid taking crowded subway or buses. Jeanne to the MTA: This is NYC. Everything’s crowded pretty much. I worry that the system will be shut down.

Photo: forward.com

I’m tempted by the $50 Broadway theater tickets to fill otherwise sold-out shows left with last minute seats because of significant cancellations by ticket holders–but hesitate to take advantage of the bargain and think all the shows may eventually be closed. Tickets are supposed to go on sale today at noon. According to amny.com, “Tickets for “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “West Side Story” are available through telecharge.com. “The Lehman Trilogy” and “The Book of Mormon” are available through ticketmaster.com.

I don’t have the stomach to calculate my financial losses spinning out of control.

Have you altered your life or plans in recognition of the virus or been forced to? Are you concerned about the financial ramifications or do you figure everything will return to “normal” shortly? Have you experienced anything like this—a triple-whammy of health, lifestyle and financial menace all at once? War perhaps? Do you feel that someone responsible has her/his arms around this? What will you do with your time if restricted to your home for 14 days? Am I overstating the situation?

Photo: advancestanchions.com

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17 Responses to “Service of Sensible Measures: How to React to a Crisis”

  1. Larry Kay Said:

    Larry on Facebook: Haven’t had breakfast yet so I can’t write a long answer. But as you probably know, I gave up my lay synagogue leader duties, plus my 2 choir memberships, for the duration. A huge change as you know. This was on the advice of my rabbi, my dr, and a dr friend. Since I’m a diabetic over 60, very vulnerable.

  2. David Reich Said:

    The coronavirus situation is a bit scary on two fronts.

    First, it is spreading so quickly and, second, the Federal government clearly has not and still does not have a handle on this.

    I live about two miles from the NY epicenter in New Rochelle, so this is kind of close to home for us here. I was supposed to travel to Tampa Saturday to represent a client at a conference, but the conference was cancelled. The client has an event planned for March 31 in Atlanta, but I just recommended we push it back. I’m working from home for a few days to avoid being on the train or walking through Grand Central, even if it’s not as crowded as normal.

    As for the government response, it has been worse than inadequate. In addition to moving slowly to take prevention and abatement measures, the president has been embarrassingly bad at leading. His reputation for truth, based on past actions, is down to zero, and his comments and even his formal speech last night have done nothing to reassure us.

    Some local government leaders — Gov. Insley of Washington, Gov. Cuomo of New York and New York City’s Mayor DeBlasio — have been shining examples of how elected officials can and should behave in a crisis.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Larry,

    Stay well. Will you nevertheless go out to exercise or will you stay home for the duration? All very unsettling.

  4. BC Said:

    For seniors, health and wealth are the major concerns. With a shaky stock market, most are on edge. The virus does not like sun, so with Spring and summer around the corner, the incidence of spread should drop dramatically.

    Our son’s county in Tennessee, has had closure of all schools in the county because one child has the virus.Simple Public health measures should stop/slow down the spread and hopefully,things will return to normal this summer.

    Financial help is on the way to help small businesses, etc. courtesy of our President.We will weather this storm.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    David,

    I feel it is unsettling that there is not one well-thought through strategy and all communities read from the same songbook.

    Have you read a word about treatment? I haven’t. Washing hands and keeping away from crowds works to calm only so much.

    Comments about the president’s talk last night on Facebook criticized his delivery. I worry about the half-baked information that confused as much as clarified. It indicates a sense of chaos at the top when we need clear thinking and a strategy to strangle the virus. The stock market reflects the “huh?” aspect which causes anxiety. We are told to eat well, exercise, get plenty of sleep and avoid anxiety. I imagine there will be a run on home exercise equipment if this lasts as well as anti-anxiety meds.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    BC,

    It’s a bold move for the Tennessee school system to close but what happens to working parents? There are rumors about this for NYC but wow. The impact on families.

    When I was a kid there were no vaccines for childhood illnesses. If a child had not already caught chickenpox, measles, mumps she was sent to the basement to be checked by the nurse for fever etc. before being sent to class if she’d not yet caught the disease and someone in her class had come down with it. My school’s strategy was flawed because if you were in the third grade and hadn’t yet had measles you were exposed to the kids from second grade who’d been exposed to chickenpox and so forth. It made no sense to me at the time either. When panicked people don’t always come up with the best plan.

  7. Minna Malinen Rabus Said:

    Minna wrote on Facebook: Your article is on point. While we all worry about how this will impact our economy and finances, it’s also important to remember the emotional impact this is having and the long term consequences. I have a high school senior, who now might not have the experience her sister had with last months in high school, events, and possibly even prom not happening. The list of disappointments, in the eyes of a 17 year old are emotionally taxing, and will impact memories of years to come. We also have to make a college decision, and did not get to visit the SUNY in Buffalo that she considers, as it’s the only choice we can face financially. I feel blindfolded, throwing a dart into darkness, hoping to get the bullseye. Meanwhile an avalanche of kids are returning home from college, facing uncertainty, fighting for jobs, if any available, adding additional stress and burden on families. I’m fortunate to have my 3 at home, so adjustments are less scary. Regardless, hiding my concerns to keep the fort and planning without causing panic is an art in itself. Stay safe Jeannie. From LYnbrook, Long Island.

  8. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie wrote on Facebook: Acting with deliberate diligence, regardless of your situation, will help mitigate “some” of our concerns. The rest is luck and timing. Control what you can control: wiping w/alcohol or other antiseptics, eating properly, exercising (if possible), sleeping (yes, sleeping), paying attention to daily routines to see where modifications can be made.

  9. Tom Stier Said:

    Tom wrote on Facebook: I work from home but being confined would be too confining. Hope it doesn’t get to that. Catholic Mass rituals have temporarily changed. I am more aware of my surroundings and the people I encounter. Our Dodgers Opening Day tickets are at risk. Still have to report for jury duty in Los Angeles every morning. I suspect more things will change while some remain constant – a mixed bag of experiences.

  10. Larry Kay Said:

    Larry wrote on Facebook: I hope I have it together to Walk, Continue my home exercises. There are a few Nautilus exercises I do at the local gym. Maybe I can buy some dumbbells or something to do them at home. Message to friends: MAYBE take advantage of sites where people learning English and Anglophones learning a foreign language talk to each other in their respective languages.

  11. Kathleen Fredrick Said:

    The virus concern here in Westchester is very real. Our LIRIC group meets at the Greek Orthodox Church, which is within the 1-mile containment radius of the synagogue in New Rochelle. So, they have to close their doors to meeting groups. So, LIRIC is closed at least until March 23. Also, The Ursuline School where Marguerite once taught is also within the 1-mile radius and is closed. Left and right, I’m hearing of meetings, outings, etc. that have cancelled.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Minna,

    For sure. So sorry for your senior. Oh my. I bet she’ll love college even if she’s not visited it beforehand. Many of her future classmates will have stories to share and plenty to speak about–even the shy ones–which will be a good thing.

    There are ramifications and reverberations we haven’t begun to realize and unfortunately, we will be faced with them all. If people lose their savings and salaries, will mortgage companies and landlords forgive them until they get back on their feet?

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Debbie,

    You are always centered and calm, offering good sense solutions. I bet exercise–a brisk walk–will help ward off panic about the current financial debacle and unraveling.

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Tom,

    Do you think people will stop going to church just when they need consolation and calm?

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Larry,

    I disconnected face-time on my phone because I hate it but texting, emails and social media connections with friends will be a big help to many who are staying home alone.

  16. Hank Goldman Said:

    I know people that are selling their stocks as they plunge, but other people are looking at the long-term and actually buying stocks because they are low!

    Some people are going ahead with all their plans, and yet others are canceling cruises, which is probably a good idea… No way to get away from an on board virus!

    And other people are just hoping for the best on a short flight, and going ahead…

    I guess I am optimistic that eventually this will come to an end and things will normalize. But it sure has the entire world, every single person —- talking and thinking!

  17. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hank,

    The hardest thing to do is to sit tight yet what you are doing I think is the only prudent option when faced with situations with no precedent. I can’t say I’m optimistic because I haven’t identified who has the strategy and the power to lead us out of this. So for now I’ll try not to panic.

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