Posts Tagged ‘Coronavirus’

Service of Who Would Have Thought

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

Photo: ewastedisposal.net

Facts can tell an unexpected story.  Some balk at facing them while others are surprised by them.

Who’d have thought that the incidence of coronavirus infection would ever be lower in New York City than in other parts of the country or that in spite of the unfortunate dramatic increase in customers that the funeral business would be unprofitable?

Even though we’re sick of wearing masks and social distancing the facts suggest we must and that even though more and more states are loosening their restrictions on businesses, we’ve not yet closed the door on the virus.

Is Anyone Listening? Don’t Spoil it Now

Photo: livescience.com

The threat of Covid-19 isn’t nearly over but too many people in my neighborhood, three days after NYC opened just a crack in Phase 1, act as though it is. I’m unhappily surprised.

I was in awe, in the thick of it, at how many New Yorkers followed recommendations of the CDC. Most wore masks and kept their distance for months. We are told that’s why we are in such good shape earlier than hoped for.

The sudden behavior reversal I witnessed isn’t promising based on other states that have loosened their pandemic belts. Oliver Milman wrote on June 9 in The Guardian: “A total of 14 states and the US territory of Puerto Rico have recorded their worst week yet for new coronavirus infections, with Texas hitting a record high in Covid-19 hospitalizations, all while restrictions to curb the pandemic are being relaxed across America.

“According to data tracked by the Washington Post, since the start of June……..the states are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.”

The Governor of Arizona, a state that Milman reported showed “one of the largest jumps in the country,” attributed it to more testing.

He wrote: “As states in the north-east experience drops in new cases, states across the south and California are seeing increases even as they loosen social distancing rules designed to prevent person-to-person transmission of the virus.”

Photo: concordmonitor.com

Kids will be kids is no longer acceptable when the outcome is potentially deadly. “Point Pleasant Beach was ‘treated like an absolute toilet,’ mayor says after thousands gather for pop-up party” Anthony G. Attrino wrote on nj.com. “Mayor Paul Kanitra took to Facebook on Wednesday and said the youthful partiers left ‘trash everywhere,’ drank alcohol and smoked marijuana in public, changed clothes in residents’ yards and were seen ‘urinating in bushes.’” On WOR 710 radio this morning the Mayor said that masks were not part of the scene. In 14 days we’ll see the result.

Too Much Business Doesn’t Translate to Profits

In light of brisk business due to Covid-19 deaths alone you’d think that funeral parlors would be doing very well. Because cremation–which costs less than a burial at graveside–and the elimination of wakes during the pandemic, the opposite is true.

Barbara Kemmis, executive director of the Cremation Association of North America told USA Today:  “More people are choosing cremation because they can’t have a funeral.” Kemmis told Bloomberg News: ” The rate of cremations now may be as high as 80% in some parts of the country where they’ve historically been less than 50%.

Jef Feeley of Bloomberg News wrote: “The viciousness of covid-19, with the U.S. death toll topping 100,000, is upending cherished traditions in the $16.3 billion funeral industry. Services where hundreds once mourned now offer a sad tableau of 10 family members at a grave site or cremation mausoleum. Satin-lined caskets carrying price tags of $10,000 or more are replaced by $300 cremation urns ordered online. Drive-by and video viewings are required in these socially distanced times.”

Feeley wrote: “Another drain on funeral-home resources is the need to provide masks, heavy gloves and protective clothing for workers handling bodies.”

Because businesses are opening up do people you know act as though we’ve seen the last of Covid-19?  In spite of recommendations by doctors, have citizens in your city or town become lax in social distancing and wearing masks? Were you surprised that the funeral industry, with the dramatic uptick in business, has taken such a financial hit?

Photo: krtv.com

 

Service of Symbols III

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

1918 pandemic. Photo: designyoutrust.com

I wrote about religious and tourist symbols in 2011 and 2013 respectively. Some symbols, like the heart, dove, and owl that represent love, peace and intelligence, achieve their associations naturally. For 12 years I wore a school uniform–another form of symbol. We were asked to behave when out and about in NYC because we represented the school.

Masks in spring 2020 inadvertently have come to represent a range of things well beyond what the Center for Disease Control [CDC] attributes to them such as respect of the medical community that’s limping from overwork. It’s also a sign of cooperation with the effort to arrest a pandemic that is faced by the nation in some places more than in others.

1918 pandemic Photo: pinterest.com

Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Senate hearing on May 12 that “the mask should be a very regular part of preventing the spread of infection.” Note: He did not say “it’s more important in New York than in Oklahoma or North Dakota.”

The same day, at his daily news conference, New York Governor Cuomo said the mask means: “I respect you, your health, your privacy. And out of respect for you I wear this mask. This mask says I respect the nurses and doctors who killed themselves through this virus to cure people. I don’t cause more stress on nurses and doctors. I respect essential workers who drive the bus, train, deliver the food and keep lights on so I can stay home and safe. So I respect others.  The masks represent community unity.”

The CDC wrote on the nuts and bolts of mask use during this pandemic:

1918 pandemic Photo: tampabay.com

“In light of new data about how COVID-19 spreads, along with evidence of widespread COVID-19 illness in communities across the country, CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting. This is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) social distancing, frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important in the event that someone is infected but does not have symptoms. A cloth face covering should be worn whenever people must go into public settings (grocery stores, for example). Medical masks and N-95 respirators are reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.”

I am surprised by how many people in NYC wear masks. We’re a maverick bunch. Most don’t like to be told what to do–for example we jaywalk and cross against the light much of the time. An incentive is that most stores won’t let people inside without a face covering. Only in a potentially crowded situation are New Yorkers asked to wear a mask which may be why some still don’t wear them walking in the street.

Is the converse true: Does not wearing a mask symbolize indifference and disrespect in addition to creating potential danger of spreading a deadly virus? Do you say anything to people who don’t wear one? Do you think wearing a mask–or not–has taken on political significance?

Photo: sciencealert.com

Service of Collateral Damage: Who Picks Up the Pieces?

Monday, May 11th, 2020

We are all collateral damage to this virus, some more than others.

For starters restaurants, airlines, retail and small businesses of all kinds, museums, theaters, consequent furloughed/fired employees and retired citizens living on savings all suffer. In addition to and as a result the country’s mental health has taken a terrible blow. Heading the list: substance abuse; domestic violence, alcoholism and suicide. The headline from a Well Being Trust & The Robert Graham Center Analysis: “The COVID Pandemic Could Lead to 75,000 Additional Deaths from Alcohol and Drug Misuse and Suicide.” People are understandably desperate.

Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam at The Washington Post reported last Friday that April job loss at 20.5 million with unemployment rate at 14.7 percent is “the worst since the Depression era.”

Policymakers have to make Russian Roulette-like decisions, the most difficult of their careers: Life loss over jobs? Jobs over potential sickness and death? The data on which to make decisions and forecasts of where this unpredictable tornado-like virus will go is mercurial: Every week we learn of new twists and turns as experts struggle to recognize symptoms and cobble together remedies. And too many interpretations appear to be political which doesn’t feel right in a crisis.

Between the squabbling and posturing I’m not sure who is leading the charge which is troubling. The president tossed the ball to the governors. CDC standards to determine when it’s wise to reopen businesses are followed by some but not all governors and nothing is done to enforce them.

Some governors on the east coast are coordinating the acquisition of personal protective equipment so they don’t compete and achieve the best prices but that seems to be it. They are not in sync when it comes to opening beaches, businesses and restaurants which Governor Cuomo has previously said is essential due to their proximity and the fluidity of citizens armed with cars.

  • Connecticut expects its restaurants to welcome patrons–with restrictions–on May 20. Whether town beaches are open depends on each mayor according to ctpost.com. For example Greenwich beaches are open to residents and Norwalk’s on a “case-by-case basis.”
  • New Jersey’s sun lovers will visit its beaches Memorial weekend.
  • NY State parks and beaches are closed at least until May 31 according to a NYS parks website. In order for a region to open under Pause New York, which expires May 15, it must meet CDC criteria: “a 14-day decline in hospitalizations and deaths on a 3-day rolling average. Regions with few COVID cases cannot exceed 15 new total cases or 5 new deaths on a 3-day rolling average. A region must have fewer than two new COVID patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day.” The NY State website spells out the priorities regarding business openings. In Phase I: construction, manufacturing & wholesale supply chain, select retail using curbside pickup only, agriculture, fishing. Only in Phase III do we see restaurants and food service that many other states have long opened. A crucial component: A region must keep an eye on data and be able to pull back and shut down again if the numbers of Covid-19 cases increase.

Do you feel secure that your state is interpreting the criteria for raising the gates to reestablish the economy while protecting workers, citizens–and you?  With the exception of NY Governor Cuomo, who has said time and again “hold me accountable; blame me,” the handling of this pandemic is like watching a child’s game of hot potato where some leaders don’t want to be holding the spud when the music stops. Who has a handle on the true full picture? How will the federal purse control/disperse life and worker-saving funds when regional criteria differ so drastically? Will exacerbated mental health issues be given their proper due by government and insurance companies?  And most important, who will ultimately determine which comes first–the economy or risk of death?

 

Cats sheltering in place in a neighborhood pizza parlor, hungry for company.

 

Service of Irritations that Irk Now and Maybe Not Before

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Photo: houseplansandmore.com

Photo: nakedapartments.com

The pandemic has created a new set of frustrations that didn’t occur or rile as much or at all before.

Living as I do in Manhattan I listen carefully to advice to protect myself from the virus and gripe when many suggestions depend on a person’s living in a house or fully equipped apartment without alternates. “Leave an Amazon package in your garage or in the trunk of your car for a few days,” is one or “when you return home immediately wash your fabric face mask in your washing machine.” I can count on one hand the number of NYC apartments I’ve visited or lived in that have their own washer-dryer. It’s not always a question of money or space: Some co-ops don’t allow them.

Photo: homedepot.com

The reason I love Bounty paper towel is how strong it is. Drives me nuts that after the many times I wash my hands I must toss the paper towel that dries them instead of subsequently wiping a counter or not wasting one at all as before. I formerly wiped my hands with a linen kitchen towel.  Insult to injury: finding replacement towels is still a challenge in NYC.

A Manhattan friend’s recent late night Tweet: “The streets are eerily quiet these days. So when a car with a CAR ALARM is parked nearby and blares for hours on end, it’s more infuriating than usual. Dude, how old is your car, and could you park it in NJ please?”

Another friend placed an online supermarket order for her suburban mom so her mom had only to swoop by in her car for pick up and run. Friend was disappointed to hear that there was only one box of tissues–they’d run out of the less expensive brand she’d chosen–and that the market didn’t automatically provide a substitute even if costlier. The whole idea was to cut down the number of trips for supplies. There should be an opt in box to check that clears the store to make substitutes.

Photo: twitter.com

In “Service of My Space: Am I Invisible?” I’ve written about the disrespect many pedestrians show others on NYC streets. Some shove in front of the elderly or disabled and cut them off not always because they are studying their phones–but because they can or don’t care. The streets in midtown are empty now yet there are those who walk in the middle of a sidewalk forcing anyone coming towards them to walk in the street or hide in a building entrance to keep six feet away. Have they not heard about the advice to social distance?

Because I must don a mask and gloves to leave my apartment–my building asks tenants to protect others and themselves in public spaces–I try to plan trips to the garbage room to coincide with a visit to the lobby for mail or a grocery store for supplies. Did I ever imagine I’d have to strategize tossing garbage?

What little irritations have you noticed that never came up before the pandemic and/or didn’t irk you? Am I even more thin-skinned than usual? Are you?

Photo: fluentin3months.com

Service of Pets in a Pandemic

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

Georgie Rabinovitz. Photo: Helen Rabinovitz

Haisten Willis wrote this article in usnews.com: “Isolated by a Pandemic, People Are Stepping Up to Foster Pets–Shelters have been forced to close by COVID-19, but community support is helping animals find homes.”

He reported that on a standard month the Best Friends Animal Society’s Atlanta shelter finds 10 homes for dogs and cats while 62 were fostered in five days in March. “Elsewhere, its New York shelter placed 67 pets from March 16 to 20, compared with its typical 30; Salt Lake City placed 42 instead of the typical 12; and Los Angeles placed 166, up from about 45 to 50,” according to Willis.

On this blog guest writer Helen Rabinovitz previously reported her daughter’s experience in “Service of What the Public Must Learn About People with Disabilities.” She submitted the inspiration for this post and wrote the following:

Photo: wp.sbcounty.gov

During this time of isolation I find the companionship of my parrot Georgie is the key to my sanity. Georgie is almost 37.  I’ve been his mom since he was around a year old. He’s funny and really, really bad sometimes–but I love him.

Even though you can’t snuggle up with a parrot he’s great company. I’d probably lose what’s left of my mind if it wasn’t for G!

Most of my friends have pets. I’m the only crazy bird lady but there are crazy cat and dog ladies in our group. We talk all the time, mostly about our fluffy kids and how great it is to have them around. It makes me feel needed and gives me a reason to get up in the morning. Someone to talk to…I speak parrot.

So for all of us who feel trapped in our homes, as long as we have our feathered and fluffy companions we will survive.

I miss hugging one of my long-deceased dogs or cats and wholeheartedly agree with Helen. Do you have a love-pet to hug? Do you know someone who adopted a pet at this time?

Photo: ultramodernpet.com

Service of Can You Ever Do Enough to Be Safe?

Monday, March 30th, 2020

Photo: accuform.com

For a moderately good housekeeper these are stressful times especially since I can’t find the ideal products recommended for coronavirus whistle-cleaness.

So I wonder: “Did I clean the plastic bags correctly? Are my apartment keys virus free? My credit card? Do I really have to wash my hair every time I go outside? Did I catch every nook and cranny of that tuna can or OJ bottle? What about my jacket pocket where I keep my phone? And the phone itself?”

Photo: physicscentral.com

And then I remember what happened one summer vacation in high school. I was in southern Italy with two classmates and the mother and brother of one. For our safety, Mrs. G was scrupulously careful about the water we drank–it had to be bottled. At the time we didn’t care for fizzy water but that seemed to be the only kind available. One day we found a restaurant with bottled still water. We were gleeful. As we sipped our drinks through a straw–real straw–we suddenly realized that the ice in our drinks was made with local water. None of us got sick.

Fact: My home will never be as clean as an operating room–live with it [I hope].

Joseph G. Allen’s Washington Post opinion piece “Don’t panic about shopping, getting delivery or accepting packages” put some of my concerns in perspective. He claims low risk for “box delivered by UPS, touch packages at the grocery store or accept food delivery.” Allen is at the Harvard T. H Chan School of Public Health in its Healthy Buildings Program.

He wrote “First, disease transmission from inanimate surfaces is real, so I don’t want to minimize that. It’s something we have known for a long time; as early as the 1500s, infected surfaces were thought of as ‘seeds of disease,’ able to transfer disease from one person to another.”

Today a New England Journal of Medicine article is trending [and scaring]. “The coronavirus that causes covid-19 ‘was detectable . . . up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.’”

Photo: amazon.com

Allen shared an example of an Amazon package delivered by an infected driver who wiped his/her nose, didn’t wash hands and touched your package. “Even then, there would be a time lag from when they transferred the virus until you picked up the package at your door, with the virus degrading all the while. In the worst-case scenario, a visibly sick driver picks up your package from the truck, walks to your front door and sneezes into their hands or directly on the package immediately before handing it to you.”

Allen then described a model–think pieces of pie. “For disease to happen, all of the pieces of the pie have to be there: sick driver, sneezing/coughing, viral particles transferred to the package, a very short time lapse before delivery, you touching the exact same spot on the package as the sneeze, you then touching your face or mouth before hand-washing.”

He wrote to cut the chain: leave the package outside or right inside the door for a few hours and wash your hands. He continued: “you could wipe down the exterior with a disinfectant, or open it outdoors and put the packaging in the recycling can. (Then wash your hands again.)”

Regarding grocery stores: “Keep your hands away from your face while shopping, and wash them as soon as you’re home. Put away your groceries, and then wash your hands again. If you wait even a few hours before using anything you just purchased, most of the virus that was on any package will be significantly reduced. If you need to use something immediately, and want to take extra precautions, wipe the package down with a disinfectant. Last, wash all fruits and vegetables as you normally would.”

Feel better? What precautions are you taking? Any shortcuts? Can you share examples of when a goal of perfection fell short yet all was well in the end?

Photo: smartsupp.com

 

Service of Heroes II

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

Photo: mnn.com

There are many heroes these days who face the dangers of coronavirus while many of us have the luxury of being able to work remotely. Cashiers at grocery and other stores, apartment and office building staff, construction workers, firemen, policemen, doctors and nurses, radio and TV production staff and reporters to name just some.

Regardless of pay they are on the front lines in contact with potential germs.

Photo: chicagodoorman.com

From the start we’ve been told most at risk for this virus are older people and yet, as Julia Marsh reported in the New York Post, “In just a single day, one thousand retired and private practice doctors and nurses answered City Hall’s cry for help, volunteering to join the Big Apple’s medical reserve and help treat their fellow New Yorkers stricken with coronavirus.” The underline is mine.

The owner/founder of the Union Square Hospitality Group, Danny Meyer, has laid off 80 percent of the staff in his 19 restaurants–2.000 people. He’s not the only one. What else can he do?

These employees and millions like them with nowhere else to work will need the help and support of heroes to keep them afloat at a time when millions of others have seen their savings evaporate. In future such small businesses may be forced to set aside money for such crises. The public will pay more but what other choice?

Here’s to all the heroes and bless them. Can you identify some in your life? Will you thank these heroes for going to work in spite of the danger?

Photo: verywellhealth.com

Service of Sensible Measures: How to React to a Crisis

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

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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