I haven’t seen many surveys on the pandemic, so I decided to create my own. Here are questions I ask myself and which I have answered here. For the most part these questions don’t lend themselves to short and snappy answers. It took me quite a while this evening to complete this. My goal in doing this is to have people really think hard about this crisis that is unlike any other in their lifetimes, and share with others how it has impacted their and the lives of their friends, family and co-workers. Please feel free to take this survey and send it to others.
Overall, how are you doing during this social distancing health crisis?
I’ve lived alone most of my life except for the last ten years of caregiving before Mom passed away this past January. I’ve always been self-sufficient and used to my own company so I’m actually faring pretty well considering my life and everyone else’s has been completely upended by this pandemic health crisis.
How is your family if there are more than one of you sheltering in place?
This does not apply to me, and I really don’t know how I’d manage if there was more than just me with all this going on. We had a live-in caregiver who helped me with Mom, but she moved out a few weeks after Mom died. Sometimes it does seem a little lonely especially since I’m older now.
How has your job been impacted if you work?
I have never been so grateful to be retired. If I were working I’d be worried every day about whether I’d have a job or not.
If you have school-age kids at home how is homeschooling and virtual education impacting your life? How do you think education will be changed once this is over?
Again, this does not apply to me but I feel that education, particularly at the college level, will see major changes as students debate the value of paying huge sums for tuition when everything can be done online, as the pandemic is proving. As for grade school education I think this will return more to normal as parents see how hard it is to teach a child properly and kids get ever more bored and restless being at home and not seeing their friends and teachers at school.
Do you wear a mask and practice social distancing at the grocery store?
I haven’t been to he grocery store in 7 weeks. I had a lot of food stocked up before all this happened and now I get what I need, except for produce and frozen food, by shopping online at Amazon. I don’t know what I’d do without it. It’s amazing. If I do go to the grocery soon I’ll wear one of my old medical masks and bring gloves and hand sanitizer. I’m truly worried about having a severe case of Covid-19 if I should get sick. I have hypertension and difficulty breathing normally due to a congenital nasal blockage that I never had surgery for since I’ve learned to live with it.
I’m fanatical about practicing social distancing on my walks and even around my brother when he comes by the house to bring me something (like rice when I run out). He doesn’t even come in the house. I’m a lifelong OCD sufferer and germaphobe, so the very thought of this malicious and highly contagious virus that is ten times more deadly than the flu, makes me almost freak out. Even during normal times I way overdue washing my hands. Can you imagine how often I wash them at home now?
What are your main sources of news during this pandemic?
I never watch TV or cable news but I have literally a couple of dozens apps and news sites. I’m drawn to them like a moth to a flame. I compulsively read any and all news about the pandemic from my sources, usually starting with my local paper which is excellent, them moving to The NY Times, The Guardian , The New Yorker, News360, and on and on into all my news analysis and commentary sites. My goal is to try to turn most of it off, and stick to the headlines without having to read every in-depth article. I just get angrier and angrier and more and more worried.
What is your biggest fear with the Coronavirus?
That people will get slack about social distancing and the virus will continue to spread like the Spanish Flu pandemic 1918. My second biggest fear is that we won’t have a change in leadership in the 2020 elections. That would be an unthinkable disaster.
Do you know anyone who’s been hospitalized or died because of Covid-19?
Not someone I know directly but my brother and sister have known several.
Are you able to grasp what is really happening? Can any of us?
I truly don’t think any of us can fully grasp the magnitude of this event. That’s why I keep referring to it as surreal. In other words, how could this be happening? In actuality, we saw it coming but never thought it would be so bad.
What will the “new normal” be like once there’s a vaccine and general immunity?
The new normal will see major changes in our economic, social welfare, healthcare and educational institutions, changes that will be for the betterment of the human race if people really learn from this instead of reverting back to the horrible status quo. You can see what that’s done to civilization and all life on earth for generations now.
What, in your view, is the worst thing people can do in a global emergency like the one we’re in?
Act like it’s just a bad dream and we’ll wake up and everything will be like it was before and people will once again live happily ever after.
Do you have loved ones in an assisted living facility or nursing home?
No, I was able to take care of my mother at home before she died. One of the biggest and most heartbreaking tragedies of this pandemic is the toll it’s taking on nursing homes which are facing the potential rapid spread of the disease and multiple fatalities among the most helpless and vulnerable members of our society, as has already occurred in many long-term care facilities.
Are you over 65 and do you have underlying health issues that make you more at risk for serious or fatal complications from Covid-19?
Yes, as I mentioned earlier I have hypertension, I am 69, and I have a past history of smoking, plus I can’t breathe normally.
What CAN humanity learn from this crisis?
Humanity can learn that the path we’ve been on since the industrial revolution of unlimited growth in population and exploitation of Earth’s finite natural resources must stop as it is leading us to the brink of extinction.
What WILL humanity learn from this crisis?
It will go one of two ways: we will learn to respect and care about each other and the planet instead of letting greed and mindless consumption and materialism do us in, OR we will have tragically short memories and regress to the folly of our old ways that led to this global pandemic.
Will we survive this as a civilization and species?
I think we will, but it’s never been more apparent that if we don’t radically change our ways, civilization will not survive. And there obviously won’t be time enough to colonize Mars.
What do you tell your children or grandchildren when they ask questions about the pandemic?
If I had children or grandchildren I would tell them exactly what I’ve said above in answers to previous questions. I would be blunt and not try to sugarcoat anything, and I’d try not to make simple morality or fairy tales about what’s happening.
When you wake up and the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and everything seems normal, but you know the world is on the edge of a precipice, do you have a sense of existential dread?
Yes, but it’s internalized. My life is comfortable in self isolation so far. All city services, the banks, post offices, doctors offices, pharmacies and groceries are functioning through the heroic efforts of people who are literally putting themselves at risk daily so that we can try to go on with what once were our normal lives. But should cracks and fissures appear, then it might be that we all start to be truly aware of the seismic event altering our lives. And yes, as when I was suffering from depression and generalized anxiety before all this, I think it’s likely I will have a sense of existential dread. But lets it even think about that.
[“Existential dread is the terror we experience in our awareness that we are transient beings acting out life on a precarious stage. It’s a phenomenon that’s universal among humans, but that varies in its intensity,” explained Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, a clinical and consulting psychotherapist.Mar 13, 2018]