Psychiatrist Blog

I fear for hardship more than the Coronavirus

man and woman doing coronavirus handshake

“To eat or not to eat, that is the question”

This pandemic thing continues to be a royal pain in the ass, if you are like me your head is about to explode with the news cycle telling us how re-opening the states for business will more than likely kill off the whole country and introduce the zombie apocalypse, the message that truly gets me all is “Don’t kill grandma”.

Yet every day I see the pain and suffering which is being endured by the people that I serve due to the Chinese pandemic.  As one of my patients put it in a very compelling fashion; “I fear hardship for my family more than the Wuhan virus”.  So, what do we tell our patients and other people that seek our advice?

On the one hand: 

We have to be mindful of basic, common sense safety concerns and we have to be responsible not only for ourselves but also for others around us (yes that includes Grandma), that means we should keep a distance of 6 feet from other people who have not been in direct contact with us in the recent past (by the way if someone lives with you and you are distancing, that is very telling), wash your hands frequently and wear masks, appropriate ones (N95 or better) in crowded spaces for example supermarkets.  

But let’s get real, let’s not go crazy following the misinformation fed to us by a media that profits from sensationalism.  Case in point; I was driving in Newport Beach with my top down (the car’s, no one wants to see me shirtless) and at a stop light an elderly gentleman wearing a face mask inside his car rolled down his window and asked me if I was not afraid to get infected.  Need I say more?  The Wuhan virus does not spread via radio waves, yet that is the type of fear that we are facing, completely irrational and mindless.

Come on folks, it is a virus, virus are nasty horrible critters which we can’t see, smell or touch (well,kind of), as such only, and I mean only, common sense measures will work, but no one, and I mean no one, is a hundred percent safe despite of what all “the experts” in the world tell us (by the way the only experts are dead since the last world pandemic was in January of 1918)

On the other hand

People need to work, eat and interact in a social fashion.  Human beings were hard wired to be social animals purely from an evolutionary perspective, that is how most of us have found our friends and significant others.

Americans tend to be law abiding people, who are by nature generous and caring, however there is a limit to the endurance of American good will and resilience as evidenced by the acts of civil disobedience against governor Newsom in multiple cities across California and against multiple governors all across the nation.

Now let’s be clear, I don’t condone lawlessness or not wearing a face mask in those close quarters but it goes to illustrate that we all are fed up due to the lack of real clear concise information and the over accumulation of media trash in conjunction with government overreach.

So, what to do?

The white house has provided guidelines for “Opening up America Again” which outline three phases for states to gradually ease their lockdowns.

Now remember the governors run the states and they are the ones who will call the shots in the re-openings despite what the media tells us.

Phase one includes the current lockdown measures such as avoiding non-essential travel and not gathering in groups. But it says large venues such as restaurants, places of worship and sports venues “can operate under strict physical distancing protocols”.

Phase two indicates that If there is no evidence of a resurgence of the coronavirus, non-essential travel can resume. The guidance says schools can reopen and bars can operate “with diminished standing-room occupancy”.

Phase three, tells us that states which are still seeing a downward trend of symptoms and cases can allow “public interactions” with physical distancing and the unrestricted staffing of worksites. Visits to care homes and hospitals can resume and bars can increase their standing room capacity (thank God).

Some regions could begin returning to normal after a month-long evaluation period, at the earliest, according to the document, however in places where there are more infections or where rates begin to rise, it could take longer.

Phase three would be the “new normal” and would still include suggestions that vulnerable people (read here older or medically compromised folks) should avoid crowded spaces.

Call me crazy but these steps look pretty common sense to me, as a whole given accurate information on the medical economic and social fronts Americans will prevail (sorry no zombies here), we have to be responsible, optimistic and have a little bit of fear because let’s face it, is that little fear that will keep us alive.


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