I’m not going to lie. Hand sanitizer was once high up on my list of purgeable items during my #Purge365 days. Just a few short month ago, I would come across one of those freebie bottles thrown into goodie bags handed out at events and making their way into my house, and I’d think “great, this little thing can definitely be today’s purge item.” Who needs hand sanitizer?
I cannot tell you how irrationally happy I was when I found one bottle that had escaped my scrutiny as I dug deep into my tennis bag this week. I almost wanted to dance. An entire bottle of the stuff I had searched countless stores for days on end, to no avail. And you think “who are all these crazy people buying that much hand sanitizer?” And it’s not crazy people at all. It’s people who make a living on arbitrage sales. There is a guy right here in Tennessee who has 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer that he now can’t sell, because Amazon – rightfully – took down his seller account for price gouging.
Purging, it turns out, is a luxury. Living in a wealthy country with a well-oiled economy, ironically, affords you the privilege to not own much at all, precisely because it’s so readily available when the need arises.
Not anymore. We’ve become hoarders overnight.
So what are we to do in the age of the Coronavirus pandemic?
Hand sanitizer, even though it made my heart sing for a second, isn’t the answer. There actually isn’t much we, as an individual, can do.
We can’t make test kits.
We can’t find a cure.
We can’t even find hand sanitizer.
But you know what’s the one thing that we all can do, and that’s not even very hard? We can all STAY HOME. Ok, with some exceptions. If we are lucky to have a home, and if we don’t have some underlying health condition that requires a hospital, and if we don’t live in an abusive environment. There are probably a hundred other ways you can poke holes into the staying home rule. BUT, for a large number of us, it is POSSIBLE to stay home, and it’s not even a huge hardship. Maybe that’s easy for me to say as an introvert who already likes staying home. But in no other time in history has there been so much entertainment available right inside our homes, and the ability to have what you need delivered. USE IT!
But why should I stay home if I’m not at risk, and not infected, many of us have asked ourselves. What difference will it really make?
I invite you to read this article in the New York Times today. In fact, you don’t even have to read it. Just go straight to the graph, grab that little slider, and slide it back and forth. With your very own fingertips, you can instantly determine how many people are going to get infected at which time, and how many will ultimately die.
Have you tried it? It’s eerily addictive and repulsive. But as you will have seen, the more that slider goes to the left, the more that curve flattens and the lower the death toll. Slide it all the way to the right, and it’s a chilling number indeed.
And the ONE thing we can all easily do to move that slider more to the left is to stay home. Every public health expert agrees on social distancing as an effective measure. Not the only measure, to be sure, but an important one. And the one thing entirely in our control.
I’m not usually in the doomsday business. If you’ve followed my blog, you’ll know that I’m usually a rather cheery and optimistic person. I hope that that will make you think twice before dismissing any dire warning as “overblown” or even a “hoax.” I’ve spent years trying to convince a son who has sensitive skin to cut down on hand washing. Not anymore. Soap and water are our new friends.
But even more importantly, STAY HOME. Think twice before going out to lunch with your friend to pass the time. “She doesn’t have the virus and we’ll be careful touching things,” you might say. Well. How do you really know? A lot more people are infected already than we know. Every other country that has come before us on the timeline is proof. Older and health-compromised people should DEFINITELY stay home, but I think we all have a responsibility in doing our part. Just because we might weather this virus more easily doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help the community at large.
And yes, I’m aware of what this will do to the economy. It’ll be really tough, if not a death sentence, for many small businesses. We own one of those. But again, it’s important to look at the numbers and listen to the health experts. Taking precautions now will actually prolong the crisis, but make it less severe, and in the end we’ll come out better for it. We will have to sort out the financial repercussions then. But if we delay important measures because we want to protect the economy, the benefit will be very short-lived. The economy will crash anyway, and even worse. We’ve already squandered so much time here in the US. We were lucky to be hit later, but we haven’t used our time wisely. I don’t even want to get started on test kits or the ineffective communication from the top down.
Forget all that. Now it’s time for each of us to do our part. Let’s start RIGHT NOW.
I would love to hear your comments. What are you doing these days? How has your reaction to the crisis shifted over the last few weeks as new data has come in so rapidly?
Great post, Sine, and can’t agree more with your points. I live in France, as you may know. Just got a text message from the French government reminding me (I knew already) we are ORDERED to stay at home, and if we can’t, we’d better have that form you print online that offers you the five reasons you may use to be out of your house. We live in a small village and the virus has arrived here. Fortunately we can still go for walks ‘near your own house’ (not in groups) for health/exercise reasons.. We are lucky to have wonderful countryside, vineyards, hills, views. All good for mental health. Also we have a garden that needs work. It may never get so tidy again! We have food in the house. We hope we’ll be okay. Wishing you and your family health and sanity!
Thank you for your comment, Miss Footloose! Always love your perspective. I’m curious, which are the five reasons you may be out of your house? I imagine medical emergencies? Does a run to the grocery store count? The French countryside does sound like an idyllic place to be. I also imagine the French as a people are a little more calm and patient than here? I’ve seen reports of people rushing out to buy guns here. Of course that would be something Americans would want to do in a crisis. I am very worried – we are only at the beginning of the crisis here. And yet we should have seen it coming since January, but squandered it away – not wanting to take heed from foreign countries is one of the afflictions many Americans share.
A run on guns? Yeah, that’ll stop a virus. Here in France, the only reasons you can leave your house is for shopping for food, for health reasons, for taking care of vulnerable people like old parents or young children (child care), and for work only if you cannot work from home (must have proof) and of course anybody who is in the care-giver, health care, medical field can go to work. And you can bike and walk for short distances nearby your own home, which works great for us. This includes of course walking your dogs if you have them (we don’t). They are checking! Fine so far run from 50 to 100 bucks. Yes, I am worried too, as Italy is still bad, Spain is getting worse, and here we are in France trying to stay ahead of the game. And in the US it doesn’t look good in terms of preparedness. Wishing you luck and good health.
Thank you. I go from optimistic to freaking out and back several times a day. The economic consequences are a whole other thing to worry about, but right now, you can’t even think about that.