Sunday, May 10, 2020

CAN WE RECONCILE REAL HUMAN NEEDS WITH COVID-19 RULES?



We all find ourselves up against some Covid-19-induced dilemmas. Not just employers. Not just workers, Not just school kids. All of us.

These are some rules DESIGNED to limit damages of Covid-19:

Don’t leave your home.
Don’t let anyone into your home.
Don’t shop in public stores including grocery.
Wear your face mask out in public.

I accept the need for such rules. They're necessary for my family's good. You may be limited by similar rules.

But the rules entail dilemmas. Example #1: how do we survive if we can’t enter a store to shop for groceries?  

Do I ignore the stay-at-home rule and go to the grocery? Or do obey and starve?

Large-scale workarounds have been launched, like Federal Reserve Board lowering interest rates.

But in the neighborhood, you and I are left with small-scale problems that must be overcome. In this situation, some helpful heroes have appeared in the lives of my wife and myself.

Here’s a way around the “don’t let anyone into your home” rule. Our daughter and her kids have made a couple of family visits, not in our home but on our driveway.  Daughter and her kids have remained on the driveway, by their car. Lucy and I open the garage door but stay ten feet inside the garage. In one such visit the whole family sang “Happy Birthday” to one of us and chatted. Then they left without coming into the home. Results: spirits lifted, smiles on all of our faces, and no rules violated.

“Do not go grocery shopping.” That’s a rule imposed for our protection by our retirement community. But how to obey this rule and stay alive? In this situation a younger resident from a nearby neighborhood came to the rescue. How did she know about us? She directs a community chorus in which Lucy sings. Out of the goodness of her heart she checked with Lucy, volunteered to shop for us, and they worked out a system. 

In this workaround system, Lucy emails our shopping list to her. Then we place reusable cloth grocery bags on the driveway for the volunteer. The good fairy, wearing protective gloves, picks up the bags, buys the groceries, then returns to place the full bags just outside our garage. The volunteer texts that she’s left the goods. We collect the bags of groceries. We clean the bags and contents against virus, and we’ve got groceries for a week! Thanks so much to the volunteer heroine!

What about the grocery store itself? What are they doing to sell without breaking the Covid rules? A couple of grocery stores in our town (and more broadly as well) have brought out an online shopping system. Here's how it works. First, customers establish an online shopping account. Once that's set up we email our list of items and the store replies with a collection time. At collection time we park in a designated area in the supermarket parking lot. An employee places the groceries in the trunk while we wait a responsible distance away. We’ve obtained our order without entering the store; we’ve obeyed the rule.

My doctor encourages me to take long walks out of doors. But the rules require keeping social distance. How do I walk for an hour on public sidewalks and woodsy trails without violating the social distance rule? Mainly by using trails and walkways sufficiently wide to allow for social distance. Or by switching to the sidewalk on the other side of the street. Most oncoming walkers cooperate to maintain social distance between us. In a low density community it works. (I can't say it'd work in Brooklyn, however.)

Adjustments like these require require a bit of creative thinking and work-arounds. May these adjustments keep Covid-19 from overwhelming individuals and communities. 


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