Social responsibility

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I was actually planning to venture out today and do some chores and errands. I had gotten used to a two week cycle for doing the laundry, for one. Since the boy and I have been staying home, that has been reduced drastically. No pressing need to do it right now, really. I wanted to try and go to the local grocery as well. It’s been three weeks since I ventured out there.

I finally found a good window to do the laundry Thursday evening between the morning showers and the rain that was forecast for the evening, I only need to walk a hundred steps or less to get to the laundry room, but it was a source of anxiety for me. It’s a keycard entry structure but it’s accessible to the 400 or so units in the area. I came in wearing my mask and my gloves, I didn’t use the communal trays and instead, I put my laundry bag in a plastic garbage bag I brought and let it rest there as I unloaded. Was I being overly cautious? Even before corona virus became real to us, I always made it a practice to load and unload my laundry between the wash, the dryer and hauling them back home straight into the totes I carry. Those trays thane been touched by other people’s dirty clothes!

That done, I had to decide whether or not I will venture to the corner and do some grocery shopping. I will postpone that to Saturday.

My grocery delivery has stepped up and has been keeping me stocked for the most part. I really don’t have any reason to venture out, but there are certain staples that are now available only in store and not online. And there are meat selections that are better bought after actual viewing and inspection,

The last time I was at the local grocery, they had instituted entry controls and social distancing while waiting in line. Thankfully, they had someone controlling the crowd — not that there were that many people around, but it helped. It meant spending some time just waiting for my turn to go in, but I appreciated the effort of the store to enforce social distancing. I imagine that with the recent mandate from the Governor, we will now be required to wear face covering to enter. Again, I am relieved.

Social distancing

You’d think I live in a relatively corona free area, but the way the virus has spread, I don’t think there is any place that can claim to be corona free in New York anymore.

I take comfort in the thought that it seems that despite the continuing high numbers, our statistics appear to show that whatever steps we are taking, they are working and stemming the rise of infections. There are still at least 400 people dying per day, but steadily declining from a high of 799 just 2 weeks ago. People who are going into the hospitals on a daily basis are still well over 2000, but there are also more people leaving and surviving the virus. While we await mass testing and the all important vaccine which is at least a year and a half away, life seems to have started to slow down. But the danger is far from over — the virus is still very much present. New York continues to be the epicenter in the US. New York City, of which Queens, where I live, is one of the five boroughs, is still the hardest hit.

Despite the alarming numbers of the recent weeks, a lot of my neighbors still seem oblivious to the perils of exposing themselves and others to the dangers of infection. The reality of it is, you cannot really control what others do, but can only make sure you do your part. I’ve been social distancing and trying to minimize having to go out as much as I can, not just for my personal safety, but more importantly, for my son’s.

I know of people living in my community who have tested positive for the virus (worked for an essential service that required the testing), gotten sick as confirmed by his own wife, and gotten better — lucky guy! But I have also seen the same person going around without any effort to self quarantine (14 days required, per the experts), nor even try to put on some form of face covering, whether while hanging out at their stoop or walking their dog.

I get it that their stoop is literally “their home”, but the air outside their door is public domain. They may have survived the onslaught of Covid19, but there are several senior citizens living in our community, and even a pregnant neighbor. I’d be alarmed, but the pregnant neighbor doesn’t seem to mind — and again, I can only do so much for myself. What they do is their own choice.

The indifference just seems so irresponsible in light of the suffering of others beyond my otherwise quiet neighborhood. Families here are generally not hard hit — we live in a relatively economically stable cluster of a good mix of socio-economic backgrounds, gravitating towards the middle class. The school zone is one of those sought after, which tended to bump up real estate value. Although we are not totally untouched, you won’t see any food pantries in this side of town. We do have two schools in the vicinity distributing food for the children and anyone who is hungry, but you will not find the non-profit groups trooping to our side of the borough to distribute relief goods. But that is a situation that is so real in areas not too far from where we are.

And yet the fact that we are still being asked to shelter in place for the next 4 weeks means that the health threat has not disappeared. Where there are many who have managed to battle the disease like a bout of flu, there are still hundreds fighting for their lives.

So I don’t apologize for feeling a sense of indignation when I see people walking around, nonchalantly ignoring the mandate for face covering, I want to tell them to remember the frontline workers who are battling the disease. How people are risking their lives to help those fighting for theirs. How other people are hungry because the economy has ground to a halt to keep the disease from spreading. I feel gravely offended that my lucky neighbor survived the disease but is NOT quarantining, I feel a sense of pity for the ignorance of those who think we are all positive for the virus already anyway, so why bother trying to stem the spread of the infection. Translated: I can walk my dog or go about my day without a face cover.

True, wearing a mask will not effectively stem the spread of the disease, and neither will it protect you. But in some measure, it is a form of social courtesy that we all need to be conscious of because of the gravity of the situation.

And if we are one of those who are fortunate to survive this disease, we have a social responsibility NOT to spread the infection. Stay home.

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