“So, when will you feel comfortable enough to visit inside our house and have our kids stay overnight with you?” asks my son-in-law. “When the government eases up the rules? When there’s a vaccine?”
I struggle for a moment with a sincere answer, “I have no idea. I just don’t know. “
I am so confused.
On March 13, 2020, I returned from a trip overseas and immediately went into a recommended, self-imposed 14 day isolation. Before its end, general population restrictions were announced: Stay home. If you go out, wear a mask. Keep at least six feet away from any other human.
During this period, I have avidly watched the news, studied articles and advice on social media, and read warning emails from friends and relatives citing science and medical specialists. All say so much is unknown and information is unfolding. Most recommend the same three cautions, warning we are in the first corona virus wave; that as restrictions ease, the second wave will be multiple times worse; the virus can remain in the air for some time; and it will be with us for years to come- and/or until a reliable inoculation is found.
I have absorbed details about the 1918-20 Spanish flu which killed tens of millions in its second wave; that carriers can be asymptomatic; and that the virus can pass unseen from one person to another to another infecting scores of people along the way.
I follow the rules. Whenever I go out my door I wear a mask. At first I wore disposable gloves all the time. Now I carry them with me to use as necessary. Now I do yard visits with friends and family, sitting at a distance. If I need to use the bathroom, I go home.
As do millions of working parents, my own kids work from home while caring for/amusing their children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for months with no respite or help from family members. Is it any wonder they welcome possible breaks? Is it any wonder some of them welcome day cares opening up?
Religious institutions, schools, salons, summer camps/programs and non-essential stores were shut down. The world came to a halt. Then the protests started. Thousands of people crowded together for days, marching, demonstrating, shouting (potentially releasing the virus into the air).
Religious groups are suing for discrimination. And even as contagious numbers are beginning to climb, governments at all levels are caving in to economic pressures, allowing business and small gatherings to reopen, without bringing charges against people who refuse to wear masks.
If asymptomatic carrier Betty connects with David who speaks closely to Bill who interacts with Sally who happens to be my toddler grandchild’s daycare person, is it any wonder I am confused? If a teenage grandchild begins babysitting this summer, is it any wonder I am fearful for my compromised family members, for my young grandkids, for all those in my network of friends and family?