By Julie Freestone and Rudi Raab
This is our 76th blog since we began to shelter-in-place to do our part in flattening the corona virus curve. It’s been inspiring, stimulating and fun —and a way to connect with many of you. It’s given structure to our days, a project to work on together, a place to channel our sometimes chaotic thoughts and a real sense of community with all of you. We’ve heard from people who live on our street, in many states and in other countries. We’ve reconnected with family and friends we haven’t seen in years.
What is ahead?
It would seem appropriate to sign off our long blogging effort with a short discussion about what it’s safe to do now that restrictions are being lifted.
Let’s start with this: We are not ending our blogging because the pandemic is over. In some counties in California and other parts of the U.S. and outside our country, there are spikes of new cases. People are continuing to be hospitalized and to die. Unemployment insurance claims continue to be filed and there was a recent prediction that 48% of laid off workers will not be rehired. There are hard times and many unknowns ahead, including whether there will be a surge in the fall, how the regular flu season will play out against the pandemic, whether antibodies prevent a second round and much more.
We will all have to make decisions in the next months about how much we are going to venture out and how to stay safe, healthy and sane. Here is a summary of some tips presented recently by National Public Radio. As an overview: “And there’s no such thing as a zero-risk outing right now. As states begin allowing businesses and public areas to reopen, decisions about what’s safe will be up to individuals. It can help to think through the risks the way the experts do. We can think of transmission risk with a simple phrase: time, space, people, place,” explains Dr. William Miller, an epidemiologist at Ohio State University.”
Here’s his rule of thumb: The more time you spend and the closer in space you are to any infected people, the higher your risk. Interacting with more people raises your risk, and indoor places are riskier than outdoors. Dr. Emily Landon, a hospital epidemiologist and infectious diseases specialist at University of Chicago Medicine, has her own shorthand: “Always choose outdoors over indoor, always choose masking over not masking and always choose more space for fewer people over a smaller space.”
Check out the tips. They rate the risks of choosing one option over another.
Thoughts upon signing off
Meanwhile, as we say goodbye to our blog readers (we hope we’ll stay connected in other ways in the days ahead), we want to share a few thoughts about the last 76 days. We have been buoyed by your support. Some of you have told us the blog is the high point of your day. That’s been incredibly motivating.
Rudi checks the statistics on our blogs often to see if anyone is still paying attention and how long you are spending (collectively) reading them. We sense that interest is waning (so is ours) but many of you have hung in there with us.
And more than that, many of you have sent us comments, shared memories, told us about your own struggles. Karen Pollak stepped up to start editing the blogs before they were posted. She was finding errors after-the-fact and her help beforehand made the final products more polished. Taking her corrections over the phone each day and chatting with her have made us feel like we’re in an office again and given us a window into each other’s lives (and our grocery shopping habits).
Our neighbor Larry sent short comments almost every day that gave us a sense that he wasn’t behind closed doors but in our living room. Donna, Merle, Deborah and several others reached back decades, triggered by a story in a blog, to remember past times.
A number of you were very generous in sharing your families’ struggles and triumphs. Juanita about her daughter and granddaughter, the Peck/Brusses in Nevada who gave us many hours of fun and material for the blogs, especially from a kids’ perspective, and Andrea about how her teenage sons are coping.
Our neighbors Dave and Nick and friend Wendel, who supplied hard facts, criticism and suggestions when they thought we were on the wrong track or had left out an important consideration.
Jane, Ruth, Michelle and a number of others helped us understand the challenges shelter-in-place and COVID brought for those of you who are facing these strange times alone in your homes.
Our Ashby Village family, especially Su-Yin and Rochelle, who gave us ongoing encouragement and Sam who helped with our computer issues.
We thank each and every one of you for giving us an audience. Stay safe and healthy. Although we all face different issues, we are all in this together.
Rudi Raab and Julie Freestone have been blogging since the shelter-in-place began in California. They will continue to be extremely cautious about what they decide to do and not do. Julie has several other projects she’s working on, including her work with Ashby Village. Rudi may actually return to working on his Retired Dudes Cook Book. Who knows, maybe it will morph into a COVID cookbook. This will be our last daily blog but we may be back now and again with thoughts and comments. We still have ideas for more blogs, but as someone once told Julie, “leave a little ink in the inkwell,” for later.