Letters to the Editor
At Home in the Age of Corona, March 19, 2020
I am looking out my window at a grey and dripping sky, reflecting upon our new reality.
Like millions of people everywhere in the world, I am at home. I am lucky to be in a nice warm house, and to have my wife and daughter with me, so I am much more comfortable and much less isolated than so many others. But, as I spend my time in contemplation, I still have a palpable sense of loneliness.
There is almost nothing on my calendar. I don’t think I have ever experienced this before, certainly not in the last six decades. Not having scheduled work feels strange and disconcerting… I am consciously trying to come to grips with feelings of guilt that I am not productive every day. Small tasks which I have always considered as having little importance have now taken on more value, and are providing unexpected pleasures. I am happy I have a dog to play with, a garden to work in, and chickens to care for… getting eggs has become a daily highlight. I am thinking about a new art project… maybe a totem pole made of driftwood. So this isolation is also a gift of time, and an opportunity to gain a deeper sense of appreciation for all that life has to offer, besides work.
As I sit during these idle times, one of the challenges I have been facing is coming to terms with loss. I feel a palpable loss of freedom to visit friends and to go to stores, restaurants, the gym. And, like so many others, I am experiencing a loss of financial security as I watch my retirement savings dwindle. These losses are real and painful, but as I contemplate, I am beginning to understand how these losses do not have the degree of importance I previously thought.
Despite the uncertainty of the future, our isolation is also an opportunity to reflect upon hopefulness and positivity. I am hopeful (and believe it is possible) that our current public health policies will be effective, that the number of critically ill patients in our communities turns out to be fewer than feared, and that our health system is not overwhelmed. I am hopeful (and believe it is possible) that this epidemic burns out here as it appears to be doing in Asia, and that normality will return sooner than expected. I am hopeful (and expect) that some of the viral treatments now under investigation will prove effective, and that we will soon be able to mitigate or even prevent this illness.
And finally, this has been a time to reflect upon the possibility of my own mortality, to appreciate the life I have had, and to come to accept whatever will come to pass. Of all my reflections, these have been the most powerful. It is too easy in these times to get caught up in a frenzy of worry and anxiety. In contrast, the road towards acceptance of whatever lies ahead leads to a sense of calmness, and to peace.
Ken Waxman MD
Today, the world and America are facing a very serious coronavirus crisis. It is so sad and disgusting that it took a health pandemic to get politicians in America to work together and help President Trump. Now, it is time for the media to do the same.
Social Distancing Necessary
Not sure where Bob Hazard gets his information, but scare quotes about panic and scorn for social distancing are unworthy of him and profoundly irresponsible. “Create a nation of hermits to limit the spread of disease and destroy the US economy.” Really, Bob?
If we don’t limit the spread of infection NOW and diminish the impact on our chronically under-resourced public health facilities (thanks, Republicans; hope you are enjoying your enormous tax cut), not only will we see the economy crash but many more will likely die from jammed emergency rooms and the lack of access to care, to ventilators, to hospital beds, to doctors and nurses.
Social distancing is the only way to manage that. An infected person sheds the most infectious viral particles BEFORE symptoms appear. Limit your exposure, wash your hands carefully and often, and stay away from other people. We don’t get know how bad this is going to get. Under this shockingly incompetent Administration, seemingly most concerned with its re-election prospects, the prognosis isn’t great.
Be safe. Take great care. That’s not panic talking. That’s reason backed by data.
Mencken was Right
I agree with you Gwyn, there was never a perfect presidential candidate, man or woman. But Hillary Clinton was as good as it can get. During the presidential primaries and campaign of 2016, there were shining moments when it looked possible that the final crack in the ceiling would break, and “women’s rights are human rights” would be part of our political system. But then the political prediction of H.L. Mencken (7/26/1920) came roaring: “As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more clearly, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts’ desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
Call to Action
Montecitans need to know about and respond to an immediate and critical community health issue – the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), like N-95 masks, for Santa Barbara’s health care workers. Without sufficient PPE, health care workers at Sansum, Cottage, and elsewhere are faced with the unthinkable prospect of attending to COVID-19 patients while placing their own lives at risk.
We cannot allow this.
A call to action is warranted and requires all of us to respond, just as we did during and since the debris flow. Specifically many Montecitians purchased N-95 masks and other PPE during the Thomas Fire, just after the debris flow or in preparation for a disaster. Cottage’s Goleta Hospital has established a collection center for PPE donations and Sansum will follow suit.
Donate PPE now so that health care workers can be adequately protected to save others – maybe even you, a loved one, or a dear friend.