It feels typical for this stage in life here on earth that anytime there is good news, it is heavily balanced by awful news.
The worst, early hot spots are all calming down. Italy and Spain are taking steps to return to normal. The New York City/State area are trending in a positive direction. Across the US, many restrictions are being relaxed.
All that is countered by the brutal reality that we are likely moving back toward normal too early and too quickly. There is also heavy evidence that Covid–19 is just beginning to attack the more rural parts of the US, where healthcare is much more difficult to come by and, theoretically, its impact could be much worse without a medical support system to aid those who fall ill.
And then there are the numbers. You can choose to follow the model you want to, but they are all changing. And even for those of us who understood that this wasn’t a six-week event, who listened when physicians and epidemiologists and other experts warned of second and third waves, getting a whiff of normalcy only to be battered by the reality that the worst is likely still to come was a tough way to begin the week.
The thing that continues to hearten me is that a majority of Americans seem focused on doing all they can to protect themselves and their families. Most people think localities that are opening are moving too quickly, most Americans are reluctant to jump back into eating in restaurants, shopping in malls, attending sporting events, and doing other things that require us to squeeze many people into confined spaces.
Of course, there is a vocal minority of people who feel the opposite. I’m honestly not sure what to think about the groups who have protested in various capitals over the past week or so. I think some of these people are motivated solely by partisan politics, seeking to make noise in order to support the president and to disparage those who oppose him. I think you could throw out any Trump-approved issue, or subject that they viewed his opponents as using to weaken him, and they would show up with their signs and flags and assault weapons, claiming their freedoms are being threatened. The fact they are arguing against preventing the spread of a deadly virus just makes them look dumber than they normally look.
These people are easy to dismiss as nut jobs.
At the same time, I think there are genuine concerns within these groups that go beyond who holds what office. Moments of heavy government action are also moments that require a vocal opposition. This was true in the Vietnam era. It’s true today.
However, that message is undermined when they, or members of their flock, call Covid a hoax, start resorting to blame rather than seeking solutions, and seem more interested in grinding government to a halt than adjusting the government’s efforts to assist more toward their desired path.
People can be afraid of government overreach. They can be concerned about their businesses being destroyed because of shut down orders. They can feel that their voices are not being heard. They can present all of these grievances peacefully.
Showing up in large groups without masks, calling people childish names, while toting guns around and acting like those aren’t a threat of direct violence on elected officials needlessly complicates their arguments, turning them into emotional shouting matches instead of moments for true political discourse.
Restrictions began relaxing a bit here over the weekend. Indianapolis remains locked down for at least another week, as Marion County in the hardest hit in the state. We did allow M to visit a friend for a few hours Saturday. Then we went to our old neighbors’ for a fire pit that evening. Afterward I realized while the parents were being pretty good about social distancing, the kids were acting like kids: sitting near each other, throwing balls around, sharing phones, etc. After six weeks I think all the parents thought that the kids needed a release. I don’t think any of us were interested in being hyper vigilant about their distancing efforts. Sunday, though, I was re-thinking the entire thing.
I guess I’m likely not alone in that, and many of us will be going through those same mental battles for months ahead. We need to get out of the house, to see people, to do things in order to remain sane. But it is tough to know where the lines are and how rigidly we need to be aware of them. If two families haven’t left the house is six weeks, are we all safe? What about when another kid shows up and we have no idea how strictly her family has been locked down?
Along those lines I was part of a text thread last week that included several parents in C’s class, wondering what everyone’s thoughts were about getting kids together once shelter in place was lifted. The thread began on S’s first day back in the office, and since we had not had this discussion yet, I didn’t chime in until the evening. Throughout the day there were no other responses, either. Once I did share our opinion, mentioning that I had waited to talk it over with S, the rest of the group suddenly came alive. I had to laugh at how everyone was waiting to hear what the doctor said before they said anything. Or at least it appeared that way.
C’s class had an assignment a couple weeks back to send a letter to a classmate. She sent one off and received a couple. M quickly jumped on the idea and sent a whole stack of letters out. She sent so many I had to brave the post office to buy more stamps. She’s received a few back in the mail, had a couple dropped off at the front door.
I thought it was a pretty sweet little moment, as kids these days – kids these days! – don’t really use the postal service for communicating with friends very much.
Two weeks ago I went to exchange our backup propane tank for a full one. I went three places and each was out of new tanks. I did some quick searching online and found that there appears to be sporadic propane shortages. As soon as I got home I ordered a Weber charcoal grill.
It arrived last Monday and I’ve used it twice. I don’t think I’ve used a charcoal grill since college. I have some work to do to get my technique locked in. Despite using a chimney starter I don’t feel like I’m getting my coals hot enough. But I’m enjoying the experimentation. And the added flavor that comes with cooking on charcoal rather than gas.
Finally, after I took my shower this morning and came downstairs, L told me someone had been knocking at the door and standing there for several minutes while I was upstairs. I checked our security camera’s history and saw a young guy did come to the door, knock twice and wait before leaving. He had a logo-ed hat on and was holding an iPad, so I assume he was selling something. Exterminator services love to hit our neighborhood for some reason, so that would be my guess.
My first thought was that it was kind of strange to be knocking on stranger’s doors trying to push a product or service in the age of Covid. But what was really strange was that homeboy was not wearing a mask. I get how it would be creepy to walk up to someone’s door unsolicited with your face covered. But how on earth can you expect a stranger to open the door for you with your face uncovered? He didn’t have a mask pulled up over his hat or slung beneath his chin that could have easily been pulled over his face when the door was answered. Nor did he have one in his hand.
If I had been downstairs I most likely would have ignored him anyway. The lack of mask reduced that chance to zero.