I’m at home in New Jersey, in West Orange, a suburb of Newark. We live in a large condominium complex and there’s always some kind of work being done. Today, for example, they’re rebuilding the small parking lot across from us. There are about six men hard at work on a gray, drizzly, nippy Monday. Not a single one of them is wearing a mask. I wish I could say that this is atypical. It is actually totally typical. I have never seen a single one of these people who maintain this complex, be they gardeners, street pavers or whatever, wear a mask. Not even once!
I notice this because sometimes we like to go outside of the prison we call home. We want to get some vitamin D by sitting in the sunshine. We have some comfortable chairs and we entertain ourselves with the New York Times and the NJ Star Ledger. They’re our escape from the tedium of being housebound all these many many months. We read practical things about baking the best chocolate chip cookies and pathetic things about how America hires a new Supreme Court justice. But, nonetheless, we feel like we’re going somewhere when actually we’re moving about six feet outside the den where we hang out.
Often, these workers so close to our chairs, are a deterrent. They perpetuate our lockdown. We are actually afraid of them. They cough. They sneeze. They even gasp for air when they overexert. If one of them is infected, perhaps asymptomatically, can the breeze blow the virus at us, two vulnerables, aged people with preexisting conditions? When it comes to corona virus we are of the Fauci camp, definitely not of the Trump camp. We try to be proactive in terms of our health. We know there are no guarantees but we’re certainly of the opinion that ignoring the virus won’t make it go away. So, we do what we can.
Take yesterday for example. Like most people we want to visit with our family members, safely. That requires much more planning than it did in the past. We can’t merely turn on the grill, make some steaks, roast some potatoes, and say, “Come over.” We need to plan all the logistics. Where will we eat? Bathroom trips? Hand washing? Serving? Cleanup? Each item requires never previously thought about strategies.
We had four family members as guests. Normally not a big deal at all! We have had as many as 50 here for a meal, and done it well. Four should not be a challenge. And, with planning, it worked well and we enjoyed. But, imperative number one, the weather had to cooperate since the serving and eating were done outside. And the menu had to be covid cognizant. Very few side dishes to clutter up the plan with lots of details about getting the stuff out and cleaning up. We had to arrange for separate distanced seating for each couple since none of us live together. So we had three tables, spread out on the driveway, all equipped with disposable serving utensils, cutlery, dishes and cups. Private ketchups. Individual salt shakers. And although the meal was ample, the number of courses was severely limited.
Now, this meal was on a Sunday. If we had had it on a weekday, problems would arise due to the numerous and frequent workers on the premises without masks. What could or would we do if we were just sitting down to eat and a gardener appeared, a maskless gardener to be sure, on our patch of lawn, sharing with us the contents of his lungs, nose and mouth, not to mention throat and hands? Hence, we have to schedule our guest invites to the condo maintenance schedule. I’ve given up trying to encourage them to wear masks. And I don’t give up easily!
Honestly, I don’t understand why they’re not wearing masks. It protects them as much as it protects us. They too have families and health issues. Being far younger than we are, they have lots more time to lose if they become ill and succumb to the virus. Yes, agreed that the masks are not comfortable or pleasant to wear. But that’s a trivial price to pay for an item that can trip up the plague we call covid19.
Dr. Fauci is our hero. He speaks something akin to “medical mamaloshin.” He’s like someone’s adoring grandfather. Kind. Caring. And down to Earth. In other words, when he speaks, we believe him. He’s not political. He lays it out for us but there is an implicit threat in his words. If we don’t listen, we’re in danger. It’s as simple as that.
And then there’s Donald Trump. Really, he could care less. I know it and so do you. If people in the US continue to pay heed to his words, tens, or even hundreds of thousands more of us, will die in a continuing upward spiral. So many already lost. So much tragedy. Incredibly, as we all acknowledge, he has made wearing masks a political statement. I would not believe this possible if I didn’t see it for myself.
Dr. Fauci is on the side of minimizing the threat with our own herculean efforts. Trump is shrugging his shoulders and bragging about the economy. Dead people don’t need to worry about the economy.