July 21, 2020

Re-engaging With The World: When Will You Feel Comfortable?


It has been five months since most of us found ourselves in a different world: one in which being with other people was severely restricted, tens of millions of us lost our jobs, going out to a restaurant or movie, gym or barbershop became impossible. The grandkids were home from school several months early. Most airplanes stopped flying; those that did were 95% empty. Travel plans were shattered. Battles, both literal and figurative, took place over face masks. 

We celebrated the 4th of July holiday in a very different environment from years past. Today, there is a push from many to slowly open back up in stages, a move that holds tremendous risks. Arizona, Florida, Texas....closing late and reopening too soon has earned them the dubious distinction of becoming global hotspots. In parts of the country people pack beaches, ignore social distancing and, flout face mask requirements. Forget worrying about the second wave of the virus: we can't escape the first round. Will Labor Day bring any substantial change?

So, the vital question arises: what will it take for you to feel comfortable enough to start re-engaging with the world? When will you decide it is safe enough to take a vacation, or even get on a plane again? Will a 4,000 passenger cruise ship ever be OK for you? How about a crowded restaurant or coffee house? Will you go back to your gym or exercise facility when it opens/reopens? 

How do you feel about your kids or grandkids attending school in a few weeks? Should colleges reopen their dorms, large classrooms, and football stadiums? Do you believe it will be safe for children to get on school buses at any point over the next few months?

There are two basic thoughts about all this. One says that enough immunity will begin to build up, that testing will identify and contain large outbreaks before they spiral out of control, and that all the extra cleaning will make being in public safer. The economic consequences of a prolonged shutdown are too dire. Life entails risk, this will be one of them.

The other view is to wait for the availability of a vaccine before stepping back into the flow. Best guesses for one to be adequately tested and ready are no sooner than the end of this year; most projections are for some time in 2021. How long it will take to mass-produce and make shots available to everyone is an unknown. Encouraging news over the last days says some medical people are on the right track, but mass availability is still way over the horizon.


Where are your heart and head, right now, today, almost a half a year into our shared experience? If I ask again in another three months, your answer may be very different. None of us can predict with any degree of certainty what is going to happen. 

But, for today, what will need to happen (or not happen) for you to feel alright about grabbing a bit of your former life? When will the fear lessen enough for you to feel comfortable stepping back into life, even if just with baby steps?


79 comments:

  1. Lots of "I" statements ahead.
    I recognize that I am who society has suffered to protect. In turn I will follow all guidelines: going places that are very open- and not crowded, wear a mask, keep myself healthy, keep my "bubble" very small, shop sparingly. We are traveling in September, by truck and then air. The airline is still distancing until the end of that month. All "fun" trips are canceled. It just makes other people nervous. It is their right to move around more freely.I should respect that. They, most likely, will not be as ill if they get it. They expect me to protect myself. I will keep my "judgement " in check and in my mouth when seeing groups of people in "my" open spaces. They may be family bubbles.
    I feel, strongly, that "I" should not stop schools from opening- especially for the K-5th grade group. It is a grave injustice to keep children- especially the poor- from an education. "I" feel that politics, unions, and older people, not science are keeping them closed. The science in Europe shows it can be done.
    Do my part. Don't be mean. Remember that everyone out there is not getting a social security check (but they do add to the pot that pays that check).

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    1. An excellent summary of your position (almost all of which i agree with!). The use of the person pronoun is the only way we can discuss this situation honestly, since we can only control how we react and how we help contribute to the handling of the pandemic.

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  2. We drove to Edisto Beach, SC for a vacation. No hotels or chain restaurants here, just vacation rentals and beaches are not crowded, so feel fairly comfortable. With Flu season fast approaching, I am concerned about the Fall and Winter. I hear some families are banding together to take turns staying home and teaching their children, effectively forming their own safe bubbles. This allows them to still work and teach the kiddos in their own respective areas of expertise. Seems to risky to send kids back to school in hot spots, but probably okay if done right where Covid is under control.

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    1. Just when you think you have heard the dumbest idea from a government official, along comes the governor of Missouri to reset the stupid bar. He says kids can go to school. if they get sick they just go home and recover. No harm, no foul. Unfortunately, Mr. Knucklehead overlooks that a) a sick kid needs care so a parent can't work, and a sick child is never something to be encouraged, and b) that sick child will go home and infect his parents, grandparents, older siblings, and at some point, his teachers. That sick child will become an infection source for an ever-widening circle of disease.

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    2. Really? Schools create an equality in the US that is replicated in few other places. This governor was addressing St Louis which has a 39% child poverty rate.
      In general districts reported between 10-40% "non compliance" with elearning last semester.Guess which group of kids did not "go to school?" It wasn't your grand children. Do you think they will elearn this year- probably not.
      A parent of a young child (that you are afraid has to stay home to care for them if they are not sick) has to stay home with them all year if they are not in school. OR the child is in daycare and the parent misses work taking care of the child.
      Yes, children may infect others. Their parents (who have to work in essential work) might infect them. Children do not get this in a serious way.
      Bob, I think you need to think through this political rhetoric.
      This does not have to be an all or nothing. Most districts provide both. Even districts who saw no infection rate last year offer elearning. Butts in seats for those who need it! Teachers who are scared need to lead the elearning. Everyone else knows what is best for kids.

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    3. Ever Single Teacher I know, and I know many, are absolutely terrified of returning to school. We disagree on this, strongly I expect. Schools in Europe do things that we cannot do or will not pay to do. As someone who normally works with poor and homeless families I understand the issues. In full. But I am unwilling to risk teachers, at risk family members or others. Teachers are not medical personnel and what systems who want to open are asking or of teachers and aids is unfair.

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  3. Where we live on Friday this week we are entering phase 3 of reopening which will be the first time since mid-March that many indoor activities like restaurants and bars will be allowed though there is a requirement that social distance be maintained. There is a lot of nervousness about this, especially with bars (drunk people do not socially distance) and the authorities say they will be quick to close down any non-compliant places, we'll see. Many medical experts are saying because you can do something (like go to a bar) doesn't mean you should which is what your post is about.

    I have done some activities and we went to a patio for lunch a couple of weeks ago which was our first meal out since March. I have been going hiking with a few other people socially distancing of course and ever so slowly expanding our circle. We did have a hiking trip to Italy planned for October but we won't be going this year, maybe next year. I have been hiking the 900km (560 mile) Bruce Trail here in Ontario over the last few seasons and only have 130km (80 miles) left to complete it end to end. I was hoping to be able to complete this year but that seems unlikely as most of my hiking friends are holding off on the overnight away trips that we'd need to do and I don't want to hike it alone, it's too easy to fall, break an ankle or something, and be stuck. Again, maybe next year.

    We have booked a flight to Mexico at the end of December as we have a place there and at the very least I need to check on it, leaving it vacant for years probably isn't a good idea. If things have settled a bit we may do our usual winter stay in Mexico but if not we may return home sooner. I suppose the ability to stay Covid-19 safe in Mexico is about the same as staying Covid-19 safe at home and I imagine planes are cleaner now than they've ever been. With masking and temperature checks the airport and airplanes really don't concern me unduly it's more that until travel advisories are lifted getting travel medical insurance will be difficult if not impossible.

    Of course a Covid-19 vaccine is the magic bullet we are all hoping for. There are some promising developments but who knows, it may never happen. After 40 years and billions spent on research they never did find a vaccine for HIV or, come to think of it, the common cold for that matter (also a corona virus). It may turn out that like so many other viruses this is something we'll just have to find a way to live with.

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    1. One of the unknown risk of international travel is whether you suddenly find yourself on the wrong side of a border that has closed. to you. Flying non-stop from Canada to Mexico is permitted at the moment, I think. Just don't land in the U.S. Of course, things might change by December, but who knows?

      Canada is a much safer place to be right now. I salute your country's intelligent approach and hope your level 3 step works out well.

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    2. There are no direct flights to our destination city in Mexico so we have to change planes somewhere, either in the US or in Mexico. As it is right now for our trip we change planes in the US and are scheduled to be on the ground for 1 hour and 11 minutes. Hopefully that short of a period will minimize the chances of contracting something. I would like to think that by then the US will have come to grips with things in a sensible way and I know the airlines & airports are ultra concerned (it's their livelihood after all).

      Canada is doing fairly well though in the last few days there have been some new daily case count increases (up about 100 or so). Perhaps minor compared with the situation in the US but concerning all the same as it can easily get out of hand. So far officials have been attributing the increase to private parties being held by young people as restrictions have been relaxed. Hopefully they can keep it from increasing any further but there is no doubt the virus is still with us and will exploit any chance it has.

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    3. Just to clarify the "new daily case count increases (up about 100 or so)" is for the Province of Ontario where I live. Other provinces, particularly British Columbia and Alberta, are experiencing similar increases so it'd be an increase of a few hundred in total across the country.

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  4. I know one thing for sure. I'm not ready to go to restaurants and other places where people aren't wearing masks. I met yesterday with four people in a park where we all brought our lunches, thought it was okay to not wear masks outside and staying 6 feet apart. Then I had a mini freak out when one of the ladies got in my personal space to brush a bug off me and I kept backing up to get away from her. This was just after hearing her tell everyone she wasn't afraid of getting Covid-19 and pays no attention to any of it. "If I die, I die." When she reached out to touch me I panicked and said, "Get away! I don't want your Covid germs!" So, I know I'm not ready for prime time anytime soon.

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    1. That sounds scary. I would have the same reaction. Frankly, if someone I knew said what she said, I wouldn't get within a city block of that person. She has no regard for her own health, and apparently not for anyone else's, either.

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  5. Maybe two years? Maybe for the rest of my life? Since I am 74, that might not be long. It might end my life. I don't have to go out to eat or go to church. I do want to live. I find every day a pleasure just like we are. I am not pushing socializing.

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    1. I know being retired helps my attitude toward all this quite a bit. My wife and I were social distancing long before it became required. We just prefer few crowds and spending time together.

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  6. I miss my people a gret deal. I am not bored, but I miss my small group socialiation and church pretty much. We have talked about meeting outside but have not done so yet and not sure that we will. My bubble includes someone who works and that's enough for me. I'll be moving the first of Octoer and at that point will at least need to allow someone into my home to load a truck and unload a truck at the other end. I dont know a teacher, at least not an elementary school teacher, who does not feel that he or she is risking his or ler lif to go back to school. I believe in the need of education but not when teachers are at risk. If administrators are meeting remotely to decide if school should be open then school should not be open. I never met a kid who didin't like about washing their hands in the early education range at least once in their lives, and wearing a mask for eight hours is not something most kids can do. Most schools in europe still allow online learning and are willing to pay teachers and hire new teachers to have seperation-something the US to date is unprepared to do. Social distancing in a first grade classroom of twenty? I simply don't see it. I do understand that puts poor kids and those with less acess to technoogy at risk, but I'm unsure of the soluiton of school systems and the government arent willing to spend more for this temporary system. I do see families getting together to do small group education We are on mandtory masks. I drive once a week to a park, do pickup or delivery and get outside every day and that is enough for me. I suspect normalcy will be someetime in the spring IF there is a vaccine. If not me way all have to find new ways to function for awhile.

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    1. You raise an important point about schooling: the age of the child makes a huge difference in how likely they are to be able to follow safety procedures. Plus, the lack of connectivity and basic computing equipment in poorer neighborhoods complicates things. But, I doubt there is a parent alive who thinks it is OK to put their child at risk, just because their family is lower on the income ladder.

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  7. Being lucky enough to live in a virtually untouched county in Vermont, I still stay home a lot because my husband, a recluse and happy that way, is 70 with multiple health issues. At 66 I have a couple myself. But given our area's relatively low risk, we can have club meetings again outdoors with masks. My best friend is my husband's age. I think she's working retail again part time. Haven't seen her in months and I miss our times together. Also haven't seen my friends from my former job in ages now. I go do the weekly shopping and occasional extra drug store runs. I check mail at the post office a few times a week, if that. Until there's a good vaccine, this is my life, mostly online and at home. There's plenty to do so no worries. The new normal lacks friendly activities but it's tolerable.

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    1. That is a good summary: "the new normal lacks friendly activities but it's tolerable."

      One thought I just had based on where you live. Because of the extreme cold and snow in Vermont in the winter months, summer is when you can be outside, interacting with others, and enjoying a beautiful time of year. But, that is been taken away from many. I wonder if there will be a special kind of winter depression this year without the normal summer recharge time.

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  8. My age (68) and close proximity to my disabled brother (with a new cancer diagnosis and low white blood cell count) leave me in the very cautious mode. In fact, I just cancelled my 3 months winter trip to FL. Circumstances are such that I need to be nearby to assist my brother, but even if that were not a factor, I would have cancelled anyway.

    My concerns are that FL is a real hot spot, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. And do I really want to risk getting sick and hospitalized so far away from home? I think not.

    NY has done a pretty good job of bringing the virus under better control. But, it is still here, and if folks let their guard down too soon, we'll be in trouble again.

    I'm glad that the science is now saying that wearing a mask protects the wearer, as well as those you have contact with. I faithfully wear my mask when I leave my home, knowing that I am protecting others as well as myself.

    I think we are a long way off from ever getting back to normal. Until there is an effective vaccine or treatment, this will not go away. It sure is weird, and a bit disconcerting with social encounters. I miss having a good view of facial expressions. I've gotten pretty good at looking for smiling eyes.

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    1. My daughter's family (which includes our grandkids) just returned from a 10 day visit to Disney World in Orlando. While they are uber-cautious and report that the Disney environment was probably one of the safest places in the world at the moment, that doesn't mean we weren't nervous and watching them closely now that they are home.

      You couldn't get me on a plane to much of anywhere at the moment.

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  9. My comment is a great big fat "I don't know". Mask wearing here is sporadic. We have so many ridiculous claims of Rights-infringment, you are in a panic, open everything up. This all while cases are climbing rapidly and hospitals are filling.

    I am meeting a friend this afternoon for an outdoor cocktail and short visit. I know she is vigilant as she/spouse live with her 85yo Dad and she is a working RN.

    I miss my 2 monthly quilt groups and I miss meeting GFs for a cocktail. I hate to shop-so nothing missing for me there.

    I think we're in this for the long haul so not much optimism from this girl.

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    1. Mark me as very surprised if by Christmas things are not about the same as now, with shopping done online and all the fun activities of the holiday season cancelled. With some Americans taking a childish attitude toward protecting themselves and others, "flattening the curve" and finding a cure are still just a dream.

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  10. I can’t seem to wrap my head around a time when I will be ok with socializing and going into public places freely.I just don’t know when it will be and that is so disconcerting!!!!!! Now going into 6 months of this,soon. My social groups are all my age 60+ so none of us will be meeting up anytime soon.I doubt I will ever go on another cruise..we have been on many and I almost always come home with a “cold” so I know how easy it is to pick up a bug on a cruise ship which is a very crowded city, in actuality. I just want to be able to get to Mexico again, and to the small towns around Arizona where we enjoy short getaways.. maybe an airbnb rental down the road?? Who knows????????

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    1. We are going to a VRBO house in Flagstaff in a few weeks...just one of my daughters, Betty, me, and two dogs. That is as far as we are willing to go at the moment. But, wouldn't a trip to Bisbee or Show Low, or the Patagonia be fun? Even Laughlin sounds like a trip worth taking....but not now.

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  11. We just found out that NJ is doing just fine right now and, they're keeping it that way. Even the folks going to the beaches are being more careful than most states. It makes me relax a bit but, this is far from over! I feel so badly for you in Arizona and our friends in Florida. I have to blame the governors for being such jerks during this awful time. I'm praying for a fabulous January!! Hope you all stay safe and take care of each other. b

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    1. You probably read the comment from the governor of Missouri about how it is OK if kids get sick at school since they will just go home and recover. One thing about our situation: it shows how low the bar has become to be called a "public servant."

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    2. I’m in Florida..top hot spot, I think. I’m retired so I don’t worry about having to go to work. I have no children so no grandchildren having to go back to school here.
      I do have a few friends and we get together once a week at someone’s home, social distancing and we try to be outside if it’s not too blazingly hot. We bring our own food, drinks etc.
      In my city mask wearing is mandatory and most people do, especially now with the large case increases. But there are always a few idiots around...trump supporter types.
      I would not yet go into a restaurant or a bar, movie, or gatherings at all.

      I don’t mind being at home almost all of the time and in fact I kinda like it..no makeup, no getting really dressed up. I paint, work in my yard, peruse the Internet, watch TV and putz around my house with little odds and ends.

      I really just miss the going out with friends for dinner and drinks and good conversation. I think I’ll wait for a vaccine or if the numbers drop a lot, maybe outdoor restaurant dining with social distancing.

      My SIL lives with me, I’m a widow and she’s divorced, so I’m not alone and that makes a huge difference. It would be hard being alone all the time. I really feel for people in that situation.

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  12. I totally agree with Janette (first to comment)---she said what is on my mind and in my heart. Some family members think we are "over reacting", including my younger brother who is a retired MD and 71. He has convinced our kids of that,too--makes me sad.

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  13. By the way---I am a cancer survivor, still on medication---and I live in Florida. I also take medication for high cholesterol and high blood pressure (both under control). And I am a former smoker. Lots of "underlying conditions"!!

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    1. I am heading out to food shop at Walmart in about an hour. Since yesterday, they are requiring masks for all. Up until now, it is had a 'requirement" that has gone unenforced.

      Now, the stores have security guards to enforce the rule. Of course, that doesn't mean some bozo won't prove how tough he is by taking the mask off once inside the store. It will be an interesting 90 minutes.

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    2. Quick update: watched one man take his mask off as soon as he entered the store. I suggested the rule was to wear it, not carry it. He asked if I were a doctor. My response: "No, but I'm not an idiot." About 10 seconds later he put the mask on.

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  14. I don't know if life will ever be normal again. I live in NY and I feel safe doing what the governor says is safe. When it was safe I went to Macy's. I don't like to shop,but tears came to my eyes when I walked inside. I was so grateful to be someplace that felt normal. We all wore masks and maintained social distancing. You can't go anyplace without a mask.
    Today was the first day the botanical garden opened. I thought there would be a line but there was only five people. Very easy to maintain social distancing. Did yoga under a tree by myself. Just grateful to be here again.
    I can't even imagine traveling now or in the near future. Only seeing one friend in person and my sister.
    Having some contact with my neighbors-always wearing masks. I miss my friends and going to museums and restaurants, but these are small matters when I see how my unemployed neighbors are suffering. We are the lucky ones if we have enough money coming in to pay our bills and are in basically good health.l


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    1. With temperatures this time of year usually 105-115 degrees, wec don't go out much even without a virus to keep us home. But, I do miss baseball games, occasionally walking through the Botanical Gardens, and having the library fully open. But, as you note, these are minor inconveniences; nothing like tens of millions of us must endure.

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  15. We are staying very cautious. First, perhaps it is our ages (69, 66) and we have young grandchildren so we are staying as socially distant and away from crowds as possible. We still shop and do things but like many no restaurants or bars or anything much fun.

    We also had not planned to travel (fly) but a family death has changed that. We will follow all airline guidelines and we hope we have picked a clean hotel and even at the services we'll try to maintain our distance, hand sanitize, etc.

    Our Dr. has advised we should wait for the vaccine and the alarming news I see every day has pretty much convinced me that he is right. What a troubled time and mess!

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    1. Yes, a first class mess that could have been less so if the officials in charge had done their job. Even so, Covid-19 is too powerful to have not caused at some at least some damage to our way of life, regardless.

      I would feel better if more people were pulling in the same direction. But, I understand fear and uncertainty can have negative results so that we can only do our part.

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  16. I live near Myrtle Beach in another beach hotspot. Almost none of my neighbors are social distancing and they believe masks harm you. This weekend was my 70th birthday. I made my peace with not doing everything I had planned--for a couple of years. My neighbors were going to make me a party but as it was very hot and humid it would be indoors. I had to tell them not to make it. I felt like the neighborhood socially distance police, but I believe in science. Had a lovely dinner with one friend. Hopefully next year....

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    1. I can't understand the "mask can harm you" belief. It's like saying seats belts can harm you in a car accident, or stopping at a red light is dangerous, or not changing a light bulb with wet hands, any one of a million things we know help keep us safe or alive.

      Oh well, all we can do is stay away from people whose irrational beliefs can harm us. And, yes, hopefully next year....!

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  17. Bob, for me, right now, the answer as to when I will feel comfortable enough to start re-engaging, in a fashion anywhere close to pre-Covid levels, will be either when an effective vaccine is both widely available and widely used, or when the combination of vaccines, treatments and herd immunity are sufficient to effectively slow the spread of the virus to pre-lockdown levels. This is a decision that I arrive at considering my specific situation (meaning my wife and myself, both in our 70’s, since there is no other close family involved).

    I accept that for the overall welfare of the country our political, medical and business leaders need to balance restrictions and re-openings in a manner than might not be in my specific best interest. I see no reason that people in the 20-50 age group should have to face long-term unemployment, crushing debt and sacrifice their retirement dreams just to protect my health or the health of the people in my age group. But neither do I intend to jump back into pre-Covid practices if there is a significant risk to my personal health.

    When businesses first re-opened in my area (North Texas), I was among the first to go back to the gym. Initially, it worked out fine. The attendance was sparse, the gym had a good sanitizing routine for the equipment, some machines were taken out-of-service to allow for better social distancing and a significant minority of the members were wearing face coverings and gloves. However, after a few weeks, the crowds came back, almost no one was wearing a face covering and few were trying to socially distance. At that point I decided that the risk was greater than the benefit and I have stopped going to the gym. That was an individual decision based on my perception of the risk to me personally. I decided that exercising indoors, in proximity to other people was not an acceptable risk.

    So far, I have made similar decisions concerning eating indoors at a restaurant, shopping in crowded stores and going to a bar or concert. I do miss meeting friends for dinner out, as we used to do almost every week, before the virus, but for now, indoor dining seems to be a high risk activity…..and dining outside during July and August in Texas is not really an attractive proposition either.

    I hope to travel again in the next year or two, but the decision on whether to travel and when to travel will depend on my perception of the safety and the attractiveness of the particular travel mode. But for the rest of this year and the first part of next year, the only travel that I see myself doing would be a road trip to the Texas coast staying in a stand-alone rental house in order to avoid the crowds associated with air travel, hotels and condominiums.

    For now, I will avoid the crowds. I shop mostly with online ordering and curbside pickup for groceries, with rare excursions inside a store during off-peak times (only once in the last 8 weeks). For other items I rely on Amazon Prime home delivery. And I am also a big fan of ordering takeout or home delivery from local restaurants to add some variety and to give the cook (me) a rest now and then.

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    1. Personal responsibility is the key. Like you, I went back to my gym when it reopened. The mask wearers were all of us over 50. The young men and women couldn't be bothered. i stopped going; the gym was closed a few weeks later.

      I do miss being in a restaurant environment, but not if I have to worry about every sneeze or cough I hear. So, takeout and bring home works as a special treat for now.

      Traveling farther than a few hour car trip remains a no-go for now. Our trip to the South Pacific and new Zealand was cancelled. At the moment a rescheduling doesn't sound attractive but late next year may be different.

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  18. In the short term there is absolutely nothing except an emergency that will get me to change my stance on personal isolation. Everything I need to see will take time. We have been encouraged by multiple people to get together. My observation has been their idea of social distancing & proper precautions are significantly different than mine. I will be looking for my state's infection rate to significantly decline & many more examples of people in my age range recovering from C19 without a hospital or better news on medications that can be taken at home. Last but not least is over a long enough period of time almost all of us will slack up because we will acclimate to the new normal.
    Right now I think we will likely resume most businesses with masks. Those of us at greater risk will be responsible for providing our own protection. Schools will probably resume with a delay. This will significantly increase the spread. There is no way kids of any age will socially distance and stay masked. We can't even get young adults to do it consistently.

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    1. My grandkids schools reopen in the next week, but only on-line for a few more weeks before actual school buildings open. Our governor is an idiot so he isn't likely to delay it any longer. But, the school districts are allowing anyone who wishes to do so to choose online through the fall.

      As sick teachers and in-school students start to overwhelm the medical system, he will probably back-pedal...too late for too many.

      I am perfectly content to stay home except for food shopping, gas, drug store, and restaurant pick up.

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  19. Having a daughter in law in her 40's who had a Covid stroke and has to use a walker and eat pureed food, I know that it can affect those younger than 50. Thinking that only those of us in the 65 and older group get seriously ill seems to be a dangerous fallacy.

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    1. It is. There have been a handful of young children who have died, but the largest increase in cases over the last month or two has been among those 20-35 years old. That is part of the reason re-opening schools has become so scary. Teachers tend to to be in that age group.

      I am so sorry to hear about your daughter-in-law situation. I haven't heard about a stroke related to Covid.

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    2. A friend of ours 30 something daughter had a Covid-19 stroke. She was in hospital from the end of April until early July and has a long rehab ahead of her. Along with the stroke several of her internal organs were ravaged as well. Being young helps, and fewer young people die, but it can still be leave you in very bad shape for a long time.

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  20. I have been a fan of your blog for years but this is my first response. Such an interesting collection of comments. My wife and I are in our late 60s and like many of the comments we are sticking close to home due to our being in the vulnerable category. But like some I am concerned about the impact on so many lives of the shutdowns. I want a way to gradually, safely reopen for many people. But until treatments are better and/or an effective vaccine is developed I don't see me going back to normal for some time. I am not too upset about that because I can lead a decent life at home, being already retired. But I do have concerns for the type of life my adult children will have barring a great improvement in conditions. Thanks for the opportunity to have reasonable, serious thoughts and comments without any angry exchanges. I do believe most people are trying their very best to get through this effectively - not all, but most.

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  21. The unknown comment above should have included my name - Steve

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    1. Steve, thank you for your readership and participation with this comment. I know exactly what you are feeling about adult children who have had the future completely disrupted. I have a daughter whose career for 20 years has been in the travel incentive and planning business. She has lost all her work for this year (since March) and will hard-pressed to see much of a bounceback before later next year. I am afraid she may be forced to look for a new job path, which at age 40 and in this mess will not be easy.

      With very few exceptions, the readers of this blog have proven, time and time again, for over ten years, that it is very possible to have meaningful conversations, even while disagreeing. Being respectful of each person's opinion is what makes it all work.

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  22. We're hoping to go on a trip to Wisconsin. But dunno ... dunno ... it just seems like life is even more of a gamble than it ever was.

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    1. Sometimes doesn't it feel almost like jello being nailed to a wall? Nothing is firm and everything keeps changing, ande our control is marginal, at best.

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  23. My plan is to lay low until they come up with a vaccine. My concern is that over time I will let my guard down and get complacent about things and that is when bad things usually happen. In the interim I've created some goals around self improvement. Health and technology are at the top of the list. Technology changes so rapidly and I'm way behind the curve. Basic things like loading the pictures I take with my camera on my computer.

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    1. Setting new challenges for ourselves is an excellent way to stay focused on things other than the state of the world. I started teaching myself touch typing a few months ago...slow but steady progress.

      You are correct: becoming complacent is a serious danger.

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  24. I drove my 88 yo mom home this weekend, and I stayed in a hotel. Granted, it is in a very low Covid rural area, and it felt relatively safe. That said, I did not eat in any restaurants along the way - even my very favorite summer favorite with 25 kinds of homemade pie. :-) We packed a picnic lunch, ate at a lovely, breezy rest stop, and generally found rest rooms and rest areas to be full of masked, well behaved people.

    As for when I will feel comfortable getting on a plane - yikes. The US is persona non grata all over the world right now (for good reason IMO), and I felt sad to see a freeway sign while driving: Entry to Canada prohibited. Essential travel only. Some of our grands live in Toronto and we are all pretty sad over the mess here at home. But we are also all healthy right now, so there is that. And my new granddaughter in England is thriving, even though I have to make do with videos and FaceTime. I really, really hope the vaccine tests are going as well as we're being told.

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    1. You have made the best of a bad situation. If it wasn't so blasted hot right now, I would love to use some of the outdoor facilities in my area.

      It seems so odd that travel to Toronto is not possible now. It is right there....just up the road from Buffalo!

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  25. I retired 7-26-19. This was my year of celebration. I have cancelled 3 trips and eaten the plane tickets as they require me to use those $$ before Feb 5 and I just don't see that happening. :-( 1 was a bucketlist trip to National Parks up north that are impassable in winter months. I was going to 3 concerts this spring. 1 has fully cancelled and refunded. Another was rescheduled and now cancelled until further notice. I've requested a refund on that. The 3rd is still rescheduled for October but I don't see that happening.

    I'm making due with being healthy and safe at home. I feel a twinge of guilt for not being frontline with my fellow RNs and Docs caring for patients. Then I remind myself I volunteered for HIV patients in the 80s/early 90s so my coworkers with children weren't at risk. (did discuss w/hubster who supported my choice).

    Take good care everyone!

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    1. I can feel your pain with the trip cancellations and the lost money and time. I just can't see myself hitting the road again in the foreseeable future. If I don't do any more extensive travelling I have seen and experienced enough to feel content.

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    2. I'm with ya Bob. I don't know when we will travel again. National Parks is our goal we've been on for vacations. We've nipped much of CA, OR, WA, ID, UT, AZ and as you can see, working our way east and north. For now? Home and healthy :-)

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    3. Elle- you might reach out to your airlines. All of my money was either returned or the date was stretched into 2022 for use---Southwest, United, Delta. My Delta ticket was for August and was refunded in full in three days! Good luck.

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  26. very individual decision, Bob. We all have different levels of risk taking in us just as we are in different risk groups, as far as they have been identified. We tend to be on the 'better safe than sorry' side of decision making. You won't find us on an airplane or on a train, or any indoor and outdoor crowded setting. I cannot tell you when that stance will change. I'll know it when I know it.
    For us (me retired for 13 months and spouse still working from home for another two before she joins the ranks), life isn't all that different. While we live close to a Covid hotspot in north Texas, we are also in a suburb where the spread is moderate and where we have
    not had any Ken/Karen incidents, where people wear masks and practice the CDC distancing guidelines. I would call our social environment a polite acknowledgment of a (for now) new normal and our life has adjusted to it. We have not been back to our gym since early March but we maintain our membership. We have learned to do strength and yoga exercises inside our home. We no longer eat out but we still order and carry out. I still play golf weekly and we continue to take our daily walks. Being home so much more has meant a backlog of garden and home improvement and renovation/maintenance projects, so Home Depot is a frequent stop for us. We have always preferred cooking from scratch and our meal plan has only gotten more adventurous. The kids are far away on both coasts and we won't be truly missing their visits until Thanksgiving.
    So, on balance, we could keep this up for much longer. Life is still good.

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    1. "Life is still good." Considering what a mess this year has been so far, that is a strong vote of confidence in how you and your wife are handling things. Betty and i don't do take-out very often, but there have been enough comments on this post to give me the urge to do so more often. We aren't fancy cooks; both of us see food as mainly fuel. But, takeout meals more often would be a nice change of pace.

      There are several home improvement projects that would make sense this summer, but we have a large financial uncertainty holding us back. Our youngest daughter's career is on hold for probably another 9 months or more. At some point I am pretty sure we will have to help her with expenses. Knowing we will need that monthly cash flow has kept us hesitant to tackle much more than basic stuff.

      Your report on your life in North Texas is comforting and makes me hopeful. I had a good friend who lived in Plaino, so I know right where you are and how pretty the area is.

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  27. We have stepped back into life a bit. Resumed contact with one older friend that is also pretty limited in outside contact. Seeing one son (and he is going to work and has his kids part time, so more risk there). We also took a 5500 mile road trip. Saw other son and his family. Then just did our own thing in Yellowstone (very packed with people) and up into nearby mountains. With the camper only had to stop for gas (masks and gloves) and a couple of store stops (masks). Those states are very low areas, so that helped. Felt quite safe in my own camper and out in the forests.

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    1. If we had known what lay ahead, we would not have sold our RV 2 years ago. Even if we hadn't taken a lot of trips, just knowing we had that option would have made this year more bearable.

      Interesting about Yellowstone being crowded. I guess the pent up desire to get out of the house is overwhelming.

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  28. I have court hearings every week (but jury trials are not happening at the moment), so my life has not changed that much, except for Covid scares because I am around lots of folks who have tested positive in the past and have supposedly recovered, or immediate family members have tested positive. I am sure positive folks are coming into the courthouse, but at least they are required to wear a mask, and they are not running a temp because that is checked at the door, as is my temp every single day. I wear a mask, sanitize, stand six feet back, and keep on moving. I am not "comfortable" but I am just carrying on the best I can. Cindy in the South

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    1. Oh, my. I would not have given any thought to someone in your situation. I figured no jury trials, but hadn't even considered that the wheels of justice haven't stopped. You are a real front line worker. Thanks for your help in keeping our courts functioning.

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    2. I will add that while we have Zoom evidentiary hearings, because I work in a very poor part of the country, and not everyone has access to Zoom, nor does everyone have smart phones here, we are probably having more in person hearings than most parts of the country. On a personal level, I had to cancel two plane flights to see my grandbaby two thousand miles away. My daughter wants everyone to quarantine 14 days after being on a plane, or travel, before being allowed to see grandchild, and I totally respect that. I would be horrified if I brought Covid to my grandchild. I just cannot be away from work for that length of quarantine time. FaceTime has been my friend. Cindy in the South

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  29. I think everyone has a different internal "risk calculator" of where the balance is between reasonable caution and unreasonable fear. Because I have an inherited genetic mutation that has had little effect on my life until now, but that puts me at fairly high risk for deadly complications if I become infected with COVID-19, I am being very cautious. Since I live alone, this has meant that I only interact in-person with others outdoors, at a distance of 6' or more, and usually with both of us wearing masks. Fortunately, I have a number of friends with similar risk balance points. My 4-person book group has begun to meet again, outdoors, spread out at 6' distances on one member's deck, and with all of us wearing masks. I have also been having friends over, one at a time, for visits on my screened porch; there, we have even taken masks off long enough to share some refreshments (e.g., iced tea and strawberry shortcake.) And I've taken advantage of ZOOM for interactions where people can be unmasked and I can see others' body language and facial expressions without sharing air with them.
    I'm trying to base my risk calculations on facts rather than fear. I've found the Harvard Global Health Institute's risk map (https://globalepidemics.org/key-metrics-for-covid-suppression/) very helpful. Last week, when my county dipped into the lowest risk category (a 7-day average of less than one new case a day for every 100K people), I decided the amount of community transmission here was low enough for me to keep a routine dental hygiene appointment that had been postponed for two months and to make an appointment for a long-overdue haircut. The dental appointment was today. I waited in my car until the hygienist was ready for me, decided to postpone x-rays until the next appointment to reduce my unmasked time in the office, and was reassured that they are cleaning only with hand tools, avoiding any techniques that would create aerosols.
    I don't expect to let up on my caution until there is a vaccine available. I'm already starting to think about how I will keep from being socially isolated when winter gets here and outdoor visits and discussions are no longer a realistic option.

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    1. You have described an excellent approach for someone who is high on the risk scale. My wife has severe autoimmune problems, so she must be very careful also.

      Luckily I had a dental cleaning with all the tools in late February, so I am good until fall. Interestingly, I did have x rays then before it was obviously more risky.

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  30. Dear Bob and Friends, i don't miss not going places, one. single. bit. Neither do (and this came as quite a surprise) i miss eating in cafeterias or restaurants - or the probable heartburn. Frankly, am very okay with having an extra $20 or $30 between paydays. Making my own meals means, no annoying tips. Yeah, i feel bad for people trying to earn a living, but in this big bad fallen world, we're basically on our own, to either sink or swim. Our Lord Jesus is so NOT WELCOME in so many places...and things are worrisome, unstable??? Well duh!

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    1. When we do use take out I am sure to give an extra generous tip, but that doesn't happen often enough to hurt our budget, or, I'm afraid, really make a huge difference in a server's life.

      Our biggest savings have been in gas and car repairs. One tankful last 3-4 weeks and nothing is wearing out because it sits in the garage day after day.

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  31. Good question for which I have no answer. We keep looking farther out and wonder what we should do about traveling. I hope once there’s a vaccine, we can feel confident about resuming normal activities. I’m mostly fine staying home but I’m tired of trying to take care of my parents with all the restrictions. It’s disappointing to see the number of cases spiking again. Just shows us normal is still a ways out.

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    1. To read that the number of cases in just the last few days is as high as the entire month of June is just damn depressing. Will we never learn? Will we ever step on solid ground again? Even 2021 seems optimistic if we keep allowing politics and lack of personal responsibility to dictate our response to the disease.

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  32. We wear masks outdoors when there are people around, and at indoor public spaces. Get take-out food but don't go inside of restaurants. I ride my bicycle twice a day with a friend who is the only other person who is in our bubble; we have had dinner with friends in their home while maintaining social distance. That's really the riskiest thing I've done. I have made one nonstop flight to Seattle, and my husband has made two; Alaska Airlines seats every passenger in a window seat, and we wear N95 masks from the car to the vehicle on the other end. I miss hugs.

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    1. That is an innovative move by Alaska Airlines. How long they can continue to afford that is an open question.

      Hugs and even a simple handshake...when will we feel safe performing such basic acts of connection?

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  33. It seems like most of your commenters have a lot of faith in the upcoming vaccines. I for one do not. I will not have the first vaccine they come out with because frankly I don't trust it to be ready that quickly. There are far too many unanswered questions concerning vaccines effectiveness against this virus. Whenever money and BIG PHARMA are concerned I worry. Sherry.

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    1. I will certainly not be first in line to receive one! I agree that there are likely to be some unintended consequences or side effects until the vaccine is fine-tuned with real time data.

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    2. I worked for a major pharma company for 20 years and they are also one of the worlds' largest vaccine manufacturers. Knowing what vaccines go through to be approved, personally I would be more worried about having Covid-19 than I would be about any potential side effects from a vaccine. Some side effects from Covid-19 are death, stroke, or serious organ damage. It's unlikely that any FDA approved vaccine will have side effects anywhere close to that.

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    3. Thanks for the insider thoughts on the vaccine. From what I have been reading, a few different companies are working independently on drugs for this virus.

      I will still wait before using whatever becomes available. But, you are right. Covid-19 and its various mutations cannot be simply ignored. Eventually, a safe and effective prevention will become available.

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  34. I’ve seen this very same comment word for word on other blogs I follow. It’s either a bot, troll or a very pathetic unhappy individual...

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  35. (referring to a deleted comment) A similar version is posted once every week or two until I see it and delete it. He/She leaves the same type on lots of other blogs. It is an odd hobby, if you ask me

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