Covid-19 has forced a new kind of existence on pretty much the entire planet. It’s easy to see online. Every third post is a plea from one person speaking for [group], sounding the alarm about a specific problem, from cancelled plans to the existential horror of invisible death that lurks everywhere. Between the memes and words of encouragement, humans are also documenting our fear, sadness, anger, and mourning.
The immunocompromised population is not okay. Getting supplies is tough, and even more so when health doesn’t allow external contact without complex sterilization methods. Add this on top of possible other chronic conditions, and every plea from someone with an underlying condition for the rest of us to just stay the f*ck home becomes completely understandable.
Medical professionals are not okay. Not only are their colleagues coming down with the virus at an astounding rate, every day is full of heartbreak, risk, and an incredible amount of information processing and change. That’s the front line – your janitors, nurses, respiratory therapists, ER docs, surgeons, and other health care staff that make our hospital systems run. Then we get to those that may not have skills that are as transferable to the current pandemic status, who are losing their jobs at a startling rate due to cutbacks on out of office procedures and in-office appointments for non-covid or non-emergency issues. Our healthcare system is changing dramatically right in front of our eyes, and there is no guarantees its changing for the good of those involved in the profession.
The homeless are even more not okay than usual. Imagine sheltering in place in a car, or a shelter environment right now. Think about hustling for food in a time of hoarding resources. For those that swim in uncertainty, threats sometimes don’t feel as threatening. Good information is hard to come by. The idea of safety is laughable at the best of times, let alone when the whole planet is in chaos.
Jails aren’t exactly the least chaotic place right now either. Or the cleanest. Or the safest. Can’t imagine anybody – guard or inmate – feels “okay” about the state of the prison system right now. The least amount of okay was in the ICE holding cells to start with, and then, oh, hey, here’s a pandemic!
Front line, public facing workers are not okay. Neither are their support staff. They’re working with minimal PPE, every interaction loaded with risk, and not being paid enough to do it. Since most of the stay-at-home orders have the same amount of teeth as my 16 year old dog (none), millions of people who live right on the edge anyway are having to risk it all to staff the golf course or sell craft supplies to Karens. Or, even worse their jobs have disappeared entirely, and now they are staring down being unemployed for who-knows-how-long in industries that are struggling to pivot to a new way of doing business or could change entirely.
Kids and parents? Nope. Everyone in the same confined spaces, trying to work and learn and not kill each other. Parents are feeling like they aren’t enough, kids feeling the fear and trying to adapt, work suffers all around, play is harder to come by, and every worry in the world is out there – from how to keep a roof overhead to how to homeschool full time and work full time all at once and also survive a pandemic.
Childfree and still employed folks are definitely not in the worst spot. Living the dream, really, in comparison to a lot of people. But even this group is struggling, albeit in different kinds of ways. Trauma abounds. Everyone is affected by the constant tracking of death tolls and numbers of ill, the battle of tracking down supplies, the unease. The altruistic of this group are picking up the work that colleagues in different circumstances need help to complete, and trying to figure out how to be of the best use in a rough time and not get sick themselves.
Too selfish, too free, too faithful, or too rich to care? Covid-19 doesn’t give any f*cks. It will take at random, across all lines of race, culture, and circumstance. The self-centered are not immune, but instead are agents of chaos – putting individualized traumas on top of the collective trauma so we can all have some trauma with our trauma. (Turns out, trauma tastes good on sourdough and makes a darn funny meme.)
We’re in the middle of something huge and scary. The largest mass action people have ever taken to try to save ourselves is happening right now. Hell no, humanity is not okay. Not a one of us – not really. But with ingenuity, work, grace, soap and water, kindness for those around us, and giving a shit about the collective long enough to buy our health care teams and scientists more time, we have a chance.
Ways to help:
If what you have is extra money: Donate to your local food bank, homeless shelters, makers groups doing work like 3D printing or hand sewing masks (searching Facebook groups is a good start), the United Way, or Feeding America.
If what you’ve got is time (and a smartphone): Download the How We Feel Project app – they’re donating a meal to Feeding America for every new user, and gathering data about behavior and health status for use trending out where outbreaks of Covid-19 might be occurring, faster.