Feeling Safe (In Unsafe Times)
This week I found myself in an awkward situation.
Some French friends of ours invited us out for dinner. At first I thought it would be an intimate thing, just them and us at an outdoor restaurant down the road, but then I found out a big group of people were going to be there, several families gathered together in one place with kids and parents that I didn’t know. In “normal” times I’d love something like this, jumping at the chance to mingle with a bunch of new French friends, but in today’s climate I found myself hesitating and asking a totally crazy question; “Is it safe?”
UGH! I hate that I even have to think about this, honestly I do, but it’s the reality of the times we live in. And ironically this question is almost more difficult now, six months or so into the pandemic than it ever was before. Mere weeks ago we were totally confined in France, and in some ways life was simple. We knew what we could and couldn’t do, and everyone was on exactly the same page about it. Nobody questioned social distancing, or wearing a mask, and the rules were strict. Stay home except for essential outings. Direct, easy, straight-forward.
Then déconfinement began, the blissful release that everyone had been waiting for, and everything changed. Folks started mingling and going out, and slowly but surely life started getting back to “normal”. Wearing of masks, which was almost universal just a few weeks back, dropped in frequency as people who were tired of the restrictions and discomfort let them go. And family gatherings, which had been completely banned, slowly eased back to where they were before. Everyone was more than happy to forget this crazy time, and this crazy virus. After all, it’s exhausting to have to plan your life around something you can’t even see.
And yet….the virus is still out there….
I know many folks are dead tired of hearing about COVID-19. In truth I am too. There’s been so much news, so many restrictions and it never seems to end. Isn’t it time for all this pallava to be over???? I wish I could say yes, but I simply cannot. Science doesn’t care about feelings, and whatever you may hope the virus is not gone and cannot be dismissed….not yet. This will be our truth for a while longer.
But we also can’t live our lives in hiding and fear, and there’s a real risk of that in these times.
Staying inside is safe, so you start to do that more and more, avoiding all contact with anything and anyone external, becoming introverted and a little mind-dead in the process. It’s not-at-all healthy, and it’s not sustainable. I’ve noticed this tenancy in myself, and in those around me, and it has been weighing increasingly heavily on my mind this week.
So I asked the questions; What IS safe these days? What can we do, with what we know about the virus today? How can we get “back to life” while still mitigating our risks?
If you haven’t guessed it already, my dear blog readers that’s my topic today, and if it’s too heavy for you I totally understand. I’ll be back to more “normal stuff” next week (I promise), so if it’s too much just skip this week, or enjoy the pretty pictures and call it a day. For the folks interested however, those are of you like me, who are truly struggling with this problem right now, I hope today’s post can help. How to navigate this crazy world we live in today….
What Do We Know?
Whenever I look a problem, I always start with the basics. What do we know today?
It’s been over 6 months since COVID-19 came into the world, so far as we know, and our understanding of it has grown significantly, but so have the questions surrounding it.
We do understand a lot more about how it spreads. The most common way is from person to person through respiratory droplets ejected when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Surfaces can also hold the virus for multiple days (depending on the surface), plus it can linger in the air, although neither of these appear to be common infection mechanisms.
The dose makes the poison. If you happen to pick-up a small amount of the virus (e.g. you touch a door handle or walk by somebody infected outside on the street), there’s a good chance your body’s immune system can fight it off. But if you get a higher dose (e.g. you spend 10 minutes talking in close contact with an infected person, or somebody sneezes in your face), you are much more likely to get infected.
People can transmit the virus without knowing. Studies have shown people can be infectious up to 2-3 days before they show symptoms. And some people are super-spreaders, able to transmit large loads of the virus to large numbers of people without personally showing any symptoms at all. This is important.
Masks make a difference. This is something we know now, that was not accredited at all in the beginning by either WHO or CDC. But experiments have now shown that wearing a mask makes a huge difference to droplet transmission (which in turn impacts bacterial & viral respiratory transmission).
There’s a lot more of course, but the basics of all this is that there’s no way to know if someone you meet is infectious, but good air-flow, physical separation, and masks all reduce the risks big-time.
What Don’t We Know
It’s taken us decades to understand viruses like chicken pox, and HIV, so it’s no surprise that we don’t understand COVID-19, which is basically brand spanking new.
Why do some people get really, really sick? We’ve known from the beginning that older, and immune-compromised folks are most at risk. However a percentage of younger, healthy people are also ending up with severe complications, including seemingly unrelated issues such as blood clots, multiple organ failures, brain and neurological problems. We still don’t understand exactly why.
Why do some kids get sick? A percentage of children end up with hyperactive immune response, known as Kawasaki disease. Thankfully it’s generally treatable.
What the long-term effects are. Although the majority of folks recover, there are increasing reports of patients who have relapses or on-going issues long after they come home from the hospital. In truth we don’t know if this virus will have longer-term effects on those who get it.
Whether immunity is long-lasting. We really have no idea if immunity (once you’ve been infected) is either significant or long-lasting. Immunity for other coronaviruses is know to fade over 12 – 52 weeks, so the idea of “I’ve had it, I’m fine” may not apply. Plus viruses mutate, which COVID-19 is already proved to have done. We don’t know what effect that will have on potential immunity either. Literally, we just don’t know.
Exactly what the death-rate is. This a biggie. Worldwide we’ve seen case fatality rates (CFR) anywhere from 0.2% in Germany to 7.7% in Italy. A lot depends on how each country is conducting testing, confirming cases, and counting deaths. For infection fatality rate (IFR), the consensus is currently somewhere around 0.6% (as reference, 0.6 percent of the American population is ~2 million people!), but it’s also an imperfect measure. Truth is, we still don’t know exactly how deadly this is.
How To Properly Treat It. There have been massive strides in treatment, including combos of drugs that improve recovery rates, prone positioning of patients, blood oxygenation techniques, and a better understanding of lab results and what effect ventilators really have on the body (it turns out they may not be the best solution). But there is no sure-fire “cure”, not yet.
As I see it this thing is still dangerous and unknown enough that there is no guarantee you will survive if you get it, no matter your age & health. And hospitals, if they get overwhelmed with enough serious cases, will not be able to cope. The latter was true back in March, and it’s still true now.
External Link (Nature Magazine): Six months of coronavirus: the mysteries scientists are still racing to solve
What That Means In The Day To Day
Obviously the COVID-19 situation is vastly different across the world at the moment. In some countries they’ve managed to flatten the curve and reduce infection rates, but in other countries (sorry USA) infections are currently raging wild. No matter where you live however, I personally believe it’s important to stay on top of the situation in your area, but also to find new ways to navigate your life.
Stay Aware. Track the numbers in your area, especially hospitalization & ICU rates if you can find them (they’re important leading indicators), but try not to become obsessive. The idea is to stay aware, but not be paralyzed by the data.
Get out in ways that are lower risk. We know this thing spreads through droplets from person to person, so there are common-sense ways to mitigate this. Obviously indoor bars are super high-risk (don’t go), whereas hiking in the great outdoors in low-visit areas is pretty darn safe. Similarly dining outdoors on a ventilated terrace is clearly lower-risk than dining indoors in a closed restaurant. Basically unless your job requires you to be in confined quarters close to others, you can manage your risks pretty well by choosing to exercise and spend time in places with better ventilation, and less people.
Wear a darn mask. Wearing a mask when you are around others is an obvious, easy, and extremely low-ask thing to do. This is not a permanent thing and it’s not just for you. It’s for everyone you meet and come into contact with. And it’s science, not politics.
And talk….talk about it….with everyone!
Make An Effort To Talk About It
The other thing we’ve had to learn over the past weeks is how to talk about all this.
You see the problem you’ll find is that not everyone you know will agree on how to manage the risks, now that confinement measures are being eased. Friends may not think the same way that you do about COVID-19, depending on their personal situation. And even within your own family circle you may find yourself at complete odds with your closest about what is OK to do, and what is not. This is especially pertinent right now, with summer starting and people planning vacays and get-togethers around the world.
In our house it turns out (perhaps not surprisingly) that I’m way more cautious than Paul. I personally know people who’ve been severely impacted by the virus (in life-changing ways), so my thinking is that I can’t risk bringing this home to dad at any cost. However Paul rightly points out that we can’t close ourselves off forever, especially now that numbers are under control in France. We simply have to find a balance. So that means we have to talk about it, and discuss A LOT of details:
- What feels safe for you? For me?
- How do we handle going outdoors?
- How do we handle public, and indoor areas?
- How do we handle friends? And socializing?
- How do we handle travel?
These are conversations we’ve never had to have before in our 25 or so years together, and frankly it’s exhausting (and crazy) to have them. But alas it’s necessary in this “new world” we live in.
As an example, before our LMB outing to Carassonne, we tried to go through everything we’d be doing there and talk about how we’d each feel comfortable handling it:
- Staying Overnight? We were both OK with camping in LMB. After all, we’re a the only ones that use our motorhome and we weren’t planning to invite anybody else inside. Plus the campground we were going to had lovely, big sites with lots of separation. A no-brainier decision. RV’s are perfect for isolated travel.
- Public Facilities? What about the campground facilities? Would we use the toilets & showers at the campground? The swimming pool? We had to think about this one. In the end we used the showers, with some precautions (flip flops, washing hands in the RV when we got back), but I had to come around to this one.
- Going Out? How about going out? Were we going to try any restaurants in Carcassonne? If so, what kind of set-up should the restaurant have for us to feel comfortable (e.g. servers wearing masks? outdoor seating? good table separation?)? We didn’t eat out in the end, but we were ready for it.
- Crowds? What was our plan if we encountered crowds (turn around? wear a mask and keep going?)? In the end we avoided them, simply by choosing to sightsee early in the morning when (happily) no-one else was around.
- Everyday Habits? What habits should we agree to adopt no matter what? For example, wearing a mask outside (duh!), washing our hands every time we come back to the RV (double duh!) etc. But what about our clothes? Were we going to be OK re-using them several days in a row, or should we take a change of clothing for each day? Since we planned to avoid crowds and stay outside, we agreed re-using clothes was OK.
We’ve had to do the same at home.
The virus situation in France is stable right now (which is great), so it makes total sense for us to get out and push our boundaries again, both for our health & sanity. But IMO we still need to do it in a sensible way. So wearing masks in public areas and avoiding big crowds is a given, but socializing is a new challenge (perhaps outdoors? in select smaller circles to begin with?), and eating out at restaurants too (outdoor seating, obviously). Plus we’re all trying to make an extra effort to go out on more regular hikes & sightseeing outings in the area. After all we live in a really low-population area with tons of natural beauty. We should take advantage of that.
So That’s Our Current “New Normal”
Life in the age of coronavirus, avoiding a threat you can’t touch or see. It’s not-at-all normal and hard to fully grasp, but it’s what it is.
We are taking it day by day thing, and trying to keep communication open, and our lives going. Paul has learned to check in with me more often & ask if I’m OK and feel safe whenever we do an activity outside, while I’m trying to learn how to be less anxious and voice concerns for discussion before the issues come up. It’s not anything close to regular life, but it’s helped us work through this very unusual and crazy time.
I’m really hoping all this comes to a close sometime in the near future especially as better treatments are developed (and eventually a vaccine). But I also know this is a process, and we cannot ignore the risks we face right now.
Oh, and that group dinner with friends? We decided not to go. I think Paul was ready, but I’m not…at least not yet.
So that’s it my dear readers. I apologize for the dark post, but it’s whats been on my mind and I felt I needed to share. If you’ve read this far, and you’ve grappled with these questions yourself I’d love to hear how you resolved them…both for yourself and those around you. Or perhaps you’re not worried anymore (and feel I shouldn’t be either)? Either way, I’d love to hear it. DO comment below and share with all!SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful and informative post! No apologies are needed. Whether we like it or not, this is what we are dealing with, especially here in the US, and no amount of wishing and whining will make it go away. What will help is everyone pulling together, wearing masks and socially distancing. Too many Americans are having a hard time with this. As someone in the higher risk group, I get angry at the refusal of others to not be willing to protect me, as I am doing for them when I wear a mask and limit my time in stores. Yes, I miss my grandchildren and children terribly. Yes, I miss eating in a restaurant, traveling, coffee with a few friends and watching live sporting events. Yes, I am an introvert to start with, so some parts of this have been easier for me. Yes, it was easier when the lines were clear, but we still had people who did not get on board. I wish I knew the answer! Thank you again for your post.
I agree with everything you’re saying. I also wish lines were clearer, and that everyone would just join together in this battle. It’s frustrating to see how it’s been handled, and terrifying if you know someone personally who has been affected. Thanks for the comment.
Jim and Diana Belisle says
No apologies needed for this post, Nina. People chucked their masks in certain areas of the US and look what happened. Diana and I continue to be overly cautious, and plan on continuing with that practice for some time. It feels right to us, so let folks say what they will. Stay safe!
Glad to hear you’re staying safe and vigilant. Continued good health to you both!
Paul Silver says
Foremost, you are wonderful people and thank you for the blogs and photos.
So, what did you decide on the gathering? Go or not go? I am on pins and needles. (And for all i know, you told us but i was so anxious on getting to an answer that i might have skipped over it. Lol.)
Take good care and I can’t wait until the next post! Cheers.
We decided not to go. We’re not quite ready to attend a big group gathering (or at least I’m not), but if the numbers stay in control over the next months then we will be. So, no for now, but it’s a progressive thing. We’ll look at going out again later on summer.
Thanks for sharing and I empathize with you. I’m 68 with mild asthma, I live alone in New Brunswick, Canada. We currently have one confirmed case of COVID-19 in the province, no one in hospital, with no new cases reported in over a week. I continue to self isolate. My sons, granddaughter and my 4 siblings live in neighboring Nova Scotia. My girlfriend of 9 years lives closer, across the Canada/US border in Maine. I haven’t been together with any of them in over 4 months and have no immediate plans to be together. I miss them all very much. I can’t risk becoming infected. It’s very difficult. Thank goodness for Skype. Canada is doing well comparatively but there is no therapeutic or vaccine. I’m limiting my risks and my love ones support my decision. Be safe.
It’s great that the situation is so stable in your area (Canada really handled this well IMO), but I totally get that it’s still tough to go out. It’s really draining both emotionally and physically to stay isolated for so long. I do hope a therapeutic comes out soon, so we can all get-together with our friends & family in a more normal way again.
I think you’re wise to be cautious. You don’t want to get infected and unknowingly bring it into your home. It’s a little bewildering to me to see such a great divide in our approach over here in the states. I bet we look like idiots on the international ‘radar’. Luckily, like you, I’m hunkering down – for the most part – adjacent to the Smoky Mt National Park and have 900 miles of trails to keep me busy. I have no problem saying NO to dine in restaurants and, sadly, breweries…but tell myself often it’s JUST FOR NOW and when there are viable treatments and ideally some sort of vaccine, I’ll be back to ‘almost’ normal. I mask up – and even have it handy on the trails. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to use those questions you suggested tonight as we, too, are attempting to figure out just how we’re going to live day to day, through this rough spell. Just for now…just for now… Stay safe! As always, your pics are amazing and I enjoy your thought provoking and informational post.
You sound very much like me in your approach. And being next to Smoky Mt National Park is wonderful (what a great place!). So much fab hiking and nature.
Linda Sand says
We are still mostly isolating in Minnesota, USA. Dave wears a mask when he leaves the apartment even if it’s just to take out the garbage. I have only been out of the apartment once since January but I didn’t leave the building and I did wear a mask. Dave is still grocery shopping twice a week but wearing a mask while doing so. His social group has started having meetups but they are indoors without social distancing so he’s not going. I have a medical appointment next week; they ask you many questions right at the door before letting only the patient come inside and you are required to wear a mask. We still aren’t getting haircuts though we are now allowed to do so while wearing a mask; there’s no beard trimming, though, as that requires face to face close contact. We are determined to stay as safe as possible in these unusual times.
We’ve had to think about haircuts here too. So far we’re still doing them at home which is both sad, and rather hilarious (we have VERY basic haircuts at this time). Dad has a medial appointment (cancer check-up) in a few weeks so we are gearing up for that, and talking about how we’re going to handle it. We’ll definitely be wearing masks and I’ll be inquiring at the hospital to see what their protocols are before we go. It’s day by day, item by item….
Such a scary time. We went to the beach today. Ocean breeze, chairs under every other palapa. We are playing it super safe. We have simple blue surgical masks for quick in and outs and brief interactions and KN95s for the grocery stores. Grocery shopping is as close to other people as we are getting for now. But it is definitely a drag. I miss people. Flying is pretty much off the table too. For now. Root for the scientists! Miss you guys.
I miss people too….and grocery shopping!! I mean I still go grocery shopping (with a mask), but I miss browsing the store, and just enjoying it. The whole experience has changed dramatically for me. And back in March I REALLY thought all this would be over by summer and that we’d be seeing you guys in fall. I was dead wrong on that one 🙁
But like you said I’m rooting for the scientists, and doctors. The more we know, the better things will get.
To be fair (to yourself) Nina I remember when this was blowing up, making a mental note that you said something like ‘it might be August before it starts to slow down’ (I remember comparing it with my Kim’s prediction it would all be over by May!). So you still have time to prove more-right-than-wrong 😉
Toni Kaus says
As a friend told us, people have a hard time negotiating a middle ground. Prescott went from off to on in the blink of an eye. We’re finding being off in our van easier than negotiating our home turf. In a situation similar to yours, we backed out of an outside party at my sister’s when we realized there would be 15 guests. On the other hand, we’re comfortable having couples we know over for an outside meal, one couple at a time.
Ain't for city gals says
I couldn’t believe Prescott, Az on the news this weekend! We live in Congress, Az and I go to Prescott for grocery shopping. It will be a couple f weeks at least before I will come back. What were they thinking having the courtyard filled with people and the trade show!
We’re going to start with some couple dinners outside too I think. We know some folks that are cautious like us, so we’ll do a little socializing in small circles with them first. Step by step…
First, the pictures this week are outstanding! Brava!
We had one short camping trip and we had all the same discussions prior to leaving. We decided to Take a pass on using campground showers.
Dining outdoors For 4 people whether in our yard or at restaurants seems safe to me if the spacing, masking and sanitizing are all in place. I think people should remask whenever the server is near.
Thanks for continuing to talk about the hard stuff.
Makes total sense. We’re going to have to talk about the mask thing (as a family) before we go out for our first post-confinement restaurant outing. I think it makes sense to put them on when the server comes around too…but we’ll probably have to discuss it.
Thanks for your article about Covid-19 and resuming activities. We are full-time RVers in the US and have been following your blog for years.
Back in the Spring, you wrote about the importance of finding a place to hunker down for a while – and we are very thankful we did. Normally we travel most of the year, but this year we are staying in one place (campground) for five months near our daughters and grandchildren. We feel safe here.
We (hubby and I) are both at high risk for Covid (age and health issues). As a result, I’ve turned into a news junkie to learn as much as I can to understand the disease and what we need to do to keep safe. I probably should step back from the news a bit because all of the information can be overwhelming. I definitely have anxiety about the pandemic – but it is getting better. We are in a state (Illinois) where our governor did a good job of managing the reopening process – and now new cases are low, and deaths are very low.
We wear masks and practice social distancing – always. Our adult kids and grandkids understand and respect our decision to not get physically close, hug, or eat together. So we have found ways to be with them, but keep our distance. We are weary of this, but understand the importance of staying healthy.
For a long while, the only place I felt safe was inside our RV – especially as we were traveling from the southwest to the Midwest. In recent weeks, I started venturing out to grocery stores, a few doctors appointments, and of course, the homes of our two daughters. We get “take out” food from our favorite restaurants, but it will be a long time before we eat inside a restaurant or go see a movie.
Here in the US we have a long way to go to flatten the curve. With time and discipline, I feel we will get there.
Thanks again for your insight.
Lynne Edwards says
Just my thoughts:
After hearing the pros and cons of wearing masks, I’m still not sure.
I do know that I have trouble breathing when I’m wearing a mask.
And, clearly, wearing a mask that covers one’s mouth and nose ensures that one is breathing more CO2 than is normal. How can that be good – especially if a person has a tendency toward respiratory problems?
And, of course, they confused the issue by first saying masks did nothing. Then it was to protect you from other people who were sick. Now, I think, the word is that it’s to protect other people from you in case you don’t know you’re sick.
I’m not sure what I think but I am glad that it is not mandatory.
Lynne Edwards says
Yesterday I watched a video with a primary care physician. At one point, he talked about an informal study he did with two therapists exercising. He tested their oxygen saturation levels with and without masks. Without masks, their oxygen saturation was 98%. With the masks, one had 79% and the other was in the low 80%. Those levels are dangerously low.
I am now convinced that wearing masks, especially during exercise, or for extended periods, is dangerous. Why aren’t more people talking about this?
I understand your concerns here, but I have to tell you they are completely unfounded.
I think this BBC article summarizes it well:
“First of all carbon dioxide molecules are tiny – far smaller than droplets containing coronavirus which the masks are designed to stop – and won’t be trapped by a breathable material. Secondly, when you breathe out, the carbon dioxide will go through and round the mask.”
Here is another great article in Forbes:
These are just two articles. There are many, many other articles & science studies to back this up.
Basically, wearing a mask has literally zero impact on our oxygen levels, or carbon dioxide levels. Health care workers, surgeons, physicians all wear heavier-duty face coverings all day without coming to harm, and there are no formal studies that show anything different (and I’m sorry, informal studies carry no weight. Anyone can say anything “informally” without adequate science behind it).
You may “feel” uncomfortable wearing a mask since it changes the way you breathe (especially when you are not used to it), but it is not harmful for you and will certainly help to protect you should there be coronavirus lingering in the air, or someone nearby is infected and sneezes, coughs or talks in close quarters to you. Also, the more you wear a mask, the easier and more natural you will find it.
I really, really hope you change your mind on this.
Here’s a very good & simple video from a surgeon, explaining that masks do not impact oxygen levels in any way whatsoever. All science supports this. Wearing a mask will not harm you physically:
J. Mohr says
Excellent article. Definitely did not think it dark but smart, especially since I think the same. Tom is more like Paul and I am more like you, so I hear you there. We don’t go to restaurants, we social distance, wear a mask and only do very small groups if any.
Since we gave up rv’ing, we won’t be traveling anytime soon. Although I miss it, we are fine with that.
Love the photos…
Anne Stauffer says
Thank you SO much for the article. I find it so helpful to get other perspectives. I’ve been sticking close to home, getting my groceries delivered, as I am borderline at-risk. It’s sad to see plan after plan get canceled, but I’m not sure what else we can do. It doesn’t seem to be going away! I appreciate you sharing the thinking behind your decisions and acknowledging that sometimes these discussions are tough.
I have been meaning to write to you for so long now. We first found you online in 2016 when we were considering selling our house and becoming full time RVers. Your blogs were so very helpful. Well, we did become full time RVers in early 2017 and haven’t looked back. We started with a brand new arctic fox fifth wheel and had it for two years, transitioning into more of a “Beast” after two years. Now we are in an Itasca Suncruiser motorcoach and love it. I am a transplanted Canadian from BC; my husband is an American from Wyoming and we met as teachers in the Middle East…recognizing each others’ gypsy spirits I guess. I love your posts from France and Spain as we have spent time there. My cousin lives in Port la Nouvelle and we also walked the Camino Frances two years ago. So, we have a lot in common. I also like your most recent posts/musings about the coronavirus and how all of our lives have changed. We are on the same page as you and are aware of becoming too complacent. We want to stay cautious. As a matter of fact, we have decided to move back to BC Canada for a year or more. We appreciate their handling of the coronavirus. BC especially has done really well with flattening the curve and enforcing rules which we like. I love your blogs – thank you!!
What a wonderful story you have…and you met your husband when you were both teachers in the Middle East!! How exciting, and romantic! I do think we have a lot in common.
William Fouste says
I love all your posts. I like the unconventional way you see the world.
I am 71 and have had to face the fact I have few years of life left (they have gone by so fast). Well, I mean that before I know it, I’ll be 80. Then 90 (I have long-lived ancestors). Barbara Ehrenreich has a great phrase in her latest book (Natural Causes…): “I am old enough to die”. I am trying to not fear getting Covid-19 and dying. After all, I am old enough to die!
A professor of engineering here in Oregon is an expert on building ventilation. He was quoted in The Oregonian as imagining a smoker exhaling cigarette smoke and you wanting to avoid the smoke. Visualize the exhalation of someone’s breath as smoke. So, outdoors I pay attention to the wind direction. If passing someone on a trail, I hold my breath until I am well past them. As an introvert and not a lover of restaurants (as a vegan, it is hard to eat in most), it is easy to live with the pandemic restrictions and cautions.
As a resident of a dysfunctional country (USA), I have come to terms with an uncontrolled pandemic. It does look like the harm of Covid-19 won’t be as bad as predicted. It will be interesting to see what the total deaths here in the US will be, in a year. Here in Oregon, we have already exceeded the projected 200 deaths by August.
I follow news from Europe (I read The Economist and Manchester Guardian). I think we all have “Quarantine Fatigue”, so it will be interesting to see what the response of European countries will be, when positive test results increase. Asia, with their more authoritarian governments, looks set to keep the pandemic under control (The South China Morning Post is a great source of Asian news). China made 500,000 residents of Anxin county stay in their apartments after just an additional 12 positive test results.
Thanks again for all your posts!
I too am very interested in what the numbers do over the next months. These next months will be a critical test, now that everyone is mingling and infection rates have run wild (your point about “quarantine fatigue” is spot on, and valid here in EU too). Like you said, perhaps the rapid rise in death rates will not follow, and harm will not be as bad as predicted. I truly hope that will be the case.
So, what did you decide? Did you and Paul attend the party of 15 or so party goers?
Thank you for your very informative blog post! I am staying away from restaurants, shopping inside stores, and practice social distancing with everyone! I wear a mask when near people. Wearing a mask is an easy peasy thing to do for myself and others. The alternative of getting Covid-19 is not a pleasant thought; having to be intubated, drugged, and tubes in every oriface, and possibly not surviving being that I am 66 with Diabetes. I am in Southern California, 80 miles northeast of San Diego. Our cases are going higher, as well as the deaths. We are going to be dealing with this Coronavirus for a very long time here in the States, sadly. I wish we had the leadership in the States that other countries have to fight this virus. You take care of yourself and your family.
We did not attend the party. The risks are very small in our area (we have almost no cases, and it’s all local people), but I’m just not ready for it. If numbers stay under control, especially as summer progresses, I will be ready to mingle in bigger groups….but not yet…
Linda Dawkins says
So glad we live in the mountains with lots of outdoor activities to enjoy. We wear masks to go grocery shopping and we are socially distancing and washing our hands. No indoor gatherings (which we really miss!). Glad you are well.
Hi I simply wanted to emphasize how much I appreciated this article (so I must be one of those that does appreciate the ‘heavy stuff’)! Kim and I do have very differing opinions about the whole thing. She thinks the whole “plandemic” is preplanned, a hoax, ‘just the flu’, and a whole load of other amazing claims I don’t go along with. She thinks wearing a mask is totally unnecessary, moans like mad whenever she needs to wear one (eg entering a store), and questions the thinking of those who insist on wearing one. But for me I really don’t see the problem, it’s no big inconvenience to wear one, I can see it’s most likely going to help reduce the chance of catching something, and it’s simple mutual respect to wear one if meeting someone else who prefers to…
Meanwhile I appreciate your articles on the subject Nina as you succinctly sum up the situation and explain a lot. Maybe I’m being lazy but I prefer to wait and read Nina’s Articles on the subject, and learn a lot, rather than trying to ‘do my own research’ without knowing what articles or websites (or news streams) to believe or not believe!! So in conclusion – please keep it up Nina!
I’m with you on the mask. I don’t enjoy wearing it (I don’t think anybody does), but I try to make it a part of my daily life, just like putting on a T-shirt or a jacket. The more I wear one, the easier and more “natural” it gets. And I do feel it’s a small, small ask (in a temporary time) for what could make a big difference to many.
It’s interesting that you and Kim feel so differently about the situation. I think a lot of households are dealing with this right now.
Yes, it wasn’t my intention to ‘throw Kim under the bus’, but simply show others how same-household members can have differing opinions that can cause friction. It was nice you were honest with us about (far smaller!) different feelings with Paul.
While we’re lucky with low death numbers here in north CA, it’s interesting and worrying that some areas/states are having numbers rising again, a fear you and I both share, since it illustrates the dangers of those who have a lax attitude to safety steps like masks and distancing.
Jeff Pierce says
A very well thought out and researched post, Nina! The local numbers in SoCal are again climbing, so the timing is perfect … at least for us.
I am a school teacher. I am very nervous about returning to work. I am older, but I don’t have any health issues. I guess we will all see how returning to school without a vaccine is going increase the infection rate.
Oh I feel for you, and for everyone that needs to work in confined spaces with others during this time. Hopefully your school has thought this out and will be putting some safety protocols in place for you and the kids, so that you can all feel comfortable.
Oh Nina, your post couldn’t have come at a better time. Montana’s numbers have been shooting up dramatically in the last two weeks. I am so, so tired of all this but as you said, now is not the time to let down our guard. We live so remotely in Montana and I’ve stopped reading the news so it’s hard to remember there’s another world out there. We go grocery shopping with masks, have eaten out a few times but really like to eat outside if possible. I miss my friends–Friday evening we had a dinner party, outside, seven of us at two separate tables. I simply cannot understand why so many people in the US are so incredibly resistant to mask wearing. And why is the virus such a political issue in the US? When studies have shown mask wearing significantly reduces the infection rates?? A high school classmate living in Phoenix tested positive for Covid on June 8. A kidney stone reared its ugly head and he ended up in an ER and was admitted for surgery. Before the surgery he was Covid tested and still tested positive almost a month later. The minister of our Arizona church is currently struggling with Covid which they think he acquired over in Sierra Vista. I sincerely believe that if masks were required in the US we could eventually see our numbers decrease instead of sky rocketing! Great post Nina, well said and the photos were great!
I couldn’t agree more Janna. I really don’t see why mask wearing is such a political topic. It’s a small, temporary thing we can all do to help reduce infection spread. Hopefully all the US states will come around and understand this. I just hope it’s not too late, after too many lives have already been lost.
Sandie DIXON says
Nina, you and all the others have said everything so much better than I can. We wear masks any time we are in public. And we are only in public for necessities. Family knows we are extremely high risk and respect our decisions to wear masks and not have family get togethers. We did travel with our trailer from AZ to MT but it’s easy to isolate especially when you boondock. Here in Montana (where cases are rising rapidly) we are in a fishing rv park so Jim can isolate on the lake while fishing. But I worry constantly about keeping us safe. My anxiety level is sky high and I hate living like this. Thanks for such an insightful blog post. And your pictures of Polly make me hapoy.
I hate living like this too. It’s exhausting, and anxiety is a real problem. I’m glad you guys are safe, and I hope this summer proves me wrong and we end up free of this thing. It would be a big relief for many.
“A no-brainer decision. RV’s are perfect for isolated travel.”
And this is what it came down to for us. Our life hasn’t really changed that much other then the fact that we’re not really where we had originally planned to be. But because our style of RV’ing is to be boondocking away from everybody else as much as possible, we simply continued doing it. Other than having to buy groceries and fuel, we really don’t have any interaction with other people.
Thankfully campgrounds, parks & federal lands have re-opened now too (which was not the case a few months ago). I do think it’s possible to RV in a safe, and considerate manner. It’s what we’ve started doing and hope to continue to do over the next few months of summer.
The Good Luck Duck says
Even in “dark” times your blog is beautiful.
You are wise to be cautious Nina. This virus is dangerous and a real risk for your father. Everyone should stay guarded and vigilant. We avid travelers are suffering withdrawal. Restaurants, museums, airplanes… who ever thought we would miss airplanes? But this won’t last forever, nothing ever does.
Those of us with any type of RV should be immensely grateful we can escape now and then for a change of scenery. Stay well and thank you for your wonderful blogging.
Indeed, I am SO thankful for our RV. It allows us the freedom to get out and travel without having to interact (almost at all, if we so wish). I think RVing will see a big boom of interest from this time.
I have mixed feelings and it’s because so many of our governments rules make no sense, so lots of people start rejecting the rules. You cant walk on the beach, you can’t go fishing by yourself, you cant walk on a mountain trail, you must order a meal if you want to have a beer, 2 beers = ordering two meals wtf? Almost all teens and college age kids ignore social distancing. Festivals are illegal, but if you call it a protest then it’s okay wtf?? I see people in the parks and neighborhoods wearing masks, but petting dogs that 60 other people have petted. Hello, animals are not disinfected, their fur has oils that support microbial growth. I see people bend down breathing on the animals touching them heavily, then another person does the same thing 30 seconds later. Also the numbers are heavily skewed to keep people dis informed of the truth. People are finally going to the hospital again for cuts, infections, sprains, skin cancer etc. The new testing protocols now test all of these people for Covid, if it turns out they have it, they are reported as a Covid hospitalization, even though they have never had a symptom. So of course the numbers are going up dramatically, but it’s a false narrative. So out of frustration many just say f-it, and think the chance they will get it and have a problem are close to zero, no matter what.
Thanks for your very timely post and I didn’t think it was dark at all, just a very honest post about your feelings. I agreed with everything you said even though here in Australia things are easing off, one of our States have had a real spiral in cases since they eased off the restrictions and they have had to isolate those people but it is disappointing that many don’t see the necessity to isolate or to even take the precautions suggested by our leaders and medical authorities. I am more disappointed in people now and am quite content to stay at home more than ever and only go out to socialise when i we are able to keep at a safe distance. I don’t think my life will get back to “normal” until there is a vaccine. We have had to cancel our holiday of a lifetime to Alaska and that has been a great disappointment as we probably won’t ever go there now as Travel Insurance will make it unaffordable for us who have age and health issues which will add to the cost. We are grateful that we have travelled to many countries before and can now sit back and enjoy our memories and look forward to holidays close to home in the not too distant future.
I totally get your mixed feelings on this. It’s almost impossible to get a solid grasp on how dangerous (or perhaps not) the situation is out there.
I’m in wait and see mode, and will continue to watch how the situation evolves with the numbers. Infection rates in the US are up, so is testing, so if the virus is still having the same impact we should see hospitalizations increasing (and reaching capacity), and then the death rates will follow. If this does NOT happen then it’s great news. Perhaps the virus has altered, or treatments are significantly better than before, the death rate is lower and people just aren’t getting as sick. This would be a great scenario, and allow us all to relax, including here in Europe where summer vacays are starting (with lots of folks mingling). I really hope that scenario plays out.
A friend I think most highly of recommended following this doctor’s updates on the virus. He sees Covid patients most every day, so if curious about his protocol and what OTC supplements he takes for example, can google this title on youtube:
“Coronavirus Pandemic Update 59: Dr. Seheult’s Daily Regimen (Vitamin D, C, Zinc, Quercetin, NAC)”,
Or here’s the link as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM2A2xNLWR4&t=23s
Has done over 80 updates, and this is where I now turn when I want just the facts. And has a quality audience so I learn from some of the Comments as well.
Walking my dog on trails is my favorite time, doubly precious these days.
Thank you as ever for your writings. May you all be well.
Very good. Thanks for the link (I will definitely be checking him out). Since the start of the pandemic we’ve been taking Vitamin D, C and Zinc here. I will read-up on Quercetin & NAC too.
Dave Davis says
Thank you for sharing all your experiences. We’ve been following you since 2013 when we started fulltiming. I’m extremely high risk because of age and copd.
I won’t eat in or outside of a restaurant, and anytime we get near a store, we mask up. We also carry small bottles of hand sanitizer in our pockets.
I decided instead of stressing out about people not wearing masks, I just bought us lexan face shields.
It’s the safest thing you can wear. Of course proximity is always most important.
I’ve thought about the face shields. They are an excellent option, and some of the market vendors here in France are wearing them. I think I’ll buy some to have on-hand in case I feel we need that “next step”. I’m still not convinced we’ll avoid a second wave, although I remain hopeful that we will.
Inexpensive face shields on Amazon. For when you simply MUST be in a crowd.
Be wary of all the many immune support supplements. Basic C, D and zinc can’t hurt, but we still don’t know why some people get hit so hard. Blood type, obesity, age… only time and knowledge can help us.
Always appreciate your ‘From the heart, but of course – with a dash of brain!’ perspectives…
Warm thoughts to you and the family from this side of the pond…
Deb, Poppin’s and myself are semi quarantined in Newport, OR in our RV at Pacific Shores. Many park members want to ‘Return to the norm’ of social interactions. We’ve gone to some smaller outside gatherings. We do so only with a good breeze (Usually not a problem on the Oregon Coast!), and stay ‘upwind’ of the group whenever possible. Any indoor function, or we wear are masks. Anytime we leave the park for shopping, we wear are masks. Suppose the right way to describe our approach, is to call it ‘guarded’. And, we do our best to minimize in person social activities… And amazing how Zoom, and other similar platforms – can reduce the feeling of isolation…
This will be behind us someday. So having an attitude of ‘waiting for science, and industry’ to react, is where we are now… (I ask friends, who ‘No virus is going to keep me/us from…’ whatever!’. How they would feel if they were unknowing carriers of C-19 and inadvertently infected a family member, or friend, or anyone? What if this person had a compromised immune system, and well, died? Suggest politely they remain positive, and to also not be selfish about the sacrifice of pulling back some from their normal interactions – for the safety of those around them…).
Enough:)! Stay safe, and I considered this to be an ‘Appropriate, and helpful’, posts for the times… THANK YOU!
The discussions are really difficult during this time. The need to feel “free” of this thing is strong, especially for folks who’ve been confined for several months and perhaps don’t know personally anyone that has been impacted. It’s hard for them to grasp in any real way that this thing is dangerous. For folks who know someone that has been hospitalized or died, or they themselves are in a higher risk group, the perspective is very different. The meeting of the two views is super tough.
Love this post!! So informative, thoughtful and relevant!! Wish more people were thinking it through as much as you both have!! We have made the decision to continue with our travel plans (albeit delayed) exactly by thinking it through like this! Thanks again Nina for another amazing post!
I’m glad you’re able to travel again! Wishing you the best of summer.
I hear your frustration! I hate to blame the government when I think that people armed with enough info can make good decisions. I miss live music more than I can say. People who choose to protest or go to political rallies without distancing or masks take their own risks for what they believe is the greater good.
Believe in what you feel makes good scientific sense and keep yourself safe. Hang in there and don’t buy what either side of the political spectrum says.
Personally I think there’s enough blame to go around everywhere. Individual responsibility is huge (and cannot be ignored), but leaders must also lead the way. It’s hard for a population to be responsible if they are not seeing the necessary seriousness, urgency & care from those in power.
But yes, we’re keeping safe & ignoring the political side of the whole situation…and will continue to do so.
I’m totally with you Nina…..I don’t know where this is going, but we’re practicing common sense and wear masks, avoid crowds, visit with a few friends, outside (noticing which direction the wind is blowing), etc. I agree with some of your commenters , RVing is probably the safest thing but Dave is concerned about what kind of health care we would be able to access if we get sick on the road (think isolated Borrego Springs) …..Damn! Ah well, my mother used to say “one foot in front of the other….”
Indeed, health care on the road cannot be ignored for those of us who are “of a certain age”. Not that you guys are in that category (!), but none of us are spring chickens anymore. It’s another important consideration. Step by step…
Kay Rash says
I love your posts. We are staying safe at home in Iowa. You are so right about the different views within a family which I have struggled with. But your advice to educate and talk is spot on for me. Thank you and stay well.
I think talking things out is the best we can do. It seems so crazy that we even have to talk about these things (going out, seeing people etc.), but these are crazy times. I know many families are struggling with this right now.
So glad you wrote this, as I wasn’t sure there were many people thinking like us. It’s why we moved to a house from a condo for the next year. Nice and private. Went to the residents “private” beach yesterday, there weren’t that many people and everyone was spaced out pretty but we still skipped a couple of extra empty chairs between us and the next folks. The situation is complicated in Mexico, but we’re not comfortable with air travel right now. We do occasional takeout at restaurants, but only those following protocols and I’m the one who picks up as I’m more detail oriented and cautious. Not ready for eating in restaurants though most here are outdoors. I’ve also been thinking about the servers, when we take our masks off to eat, how well are they being protected if they are the only ones wearing a mask. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts, always helpful. Miss you guys!
These are all valid concerns, and things we each have to think through and decide (based on where we live, the local situation, our personal comfort levels etc.) what we can accept and what we cannot yet accept. A few months ago I was only grocery shopping via online order & pick-up. Now, I’m going into the store, but only at low-visit times, and always with a mask. Each time it’s a decision, and those decisions are always evolving with the local situation. These are the times we live in….hopefully they will not endure.
Ruth Samson says
Thank you for an excellent article. Good facts and you outlined my feelings exactly regarding going out. I am very interested in how other countries are handling this. We wear masks when out doing errands, but are a minority. Mostly seniors are mask compilant here in Nova Scotia. Younger people, not so much. Our province closed completely except for grocery stores and pharmacies in mid March and have gradually, over the last month opened up most areas and we can travel to the provinces on each side of us. If you visit other provinces or out of country you must still self isolate for 14 days on returning. Lots of controversy about non compliance on the self isolation, especially with summer residents wanting to use their summer homes. Early in the pandemic, our provincial premier, frustrated with residents who were not seizing the seriousness if the situation, blurted during a new conference: »Just stay the blazes home ». That phrase has become the motto for facing the pandemic in this small corner of the world.
This is never going to be over in the US. Americans are so selfish and self centered that they will not do something for the public good as simple as wearing a mask. How many times does it have to be pointed out to people that medical workers wear N95s all day, which are much more close fitting than cloth or surgical masks, and they don’t drop from hypoxia and they don’t show signs of too much CO2. Tucson finally reinstated the mask order, but it’s not uniformly followed. So, we don’t go anywhere except for food. There was an interesting piece somewhere about research that shows a correlation between having a snippet of Neanderthal dna and worse outcomes from Covid-19. I wish I could find the link, but I can not. Glad you and the family are still healthy and in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
I have to admit I don’t really understand the mask thing either. I mean I get that it’s not comfortable to wear, but neither are seat-belts, or hard hats and yet we don’t hesitate to buckle up when we get in the car, or wear a hard hat if we’re at a construction site. As I see it, it’s a basic safety thing, something we can all do to protect each other & help fight the virus spread, until we have other means to combat it (e.g. vaccine, better treatments etc.)
Eventually I don’t think it’ll be a choice anymore. If infections continue to rise, I predict that more and more states (and countries) will make mask wearing a requirement.
Barbara Goodman says
I totally agree with you, I’m feeling the same. My husband has Celiac Disease so we’re already quite prepared for “a different/same life”.
This covid is quite taxing on us tho, seeing people going on like covid is nothing more than the flu or less, no masks, no distancing, we wear masks to protect others and hopefully ourselves but most people don’t…Sorry USA but we all need to wake up !!!
Glad to see your new country doing oh so much better, fingers and paws crossed for everyone
It’s concerning to see how all this is progressing. There’s such a huge diversity between the people who are still being careful, and those who believe all this is over, or over-hyped. I have to admit I still believe the virus is a big threat, and will continue to take that stance until we know more about it, and have better treatments in place.
Glad you’re staying safe. A virus just needs a new host and cares not.
We are avoiding stores. Camping and hiking are our activities.
Indeed….a virus just needs a host. Basic biology. It won’t stop until its progression is stopped.
Great post, Nina, and absolutely no need for apologies. This is important stuff and needs to be said! I’m in the US and am disheartened by how so many here are treating this virus so cavalierly. Of course, this starts at the top with the poor leadership and downright misleading lies the POTUS and his cronies are putting forth. Sorry to get political, but unfortunately, this virus has become highly politicized here in the US thanks to the current administration. I am very similar to you re. mask wearing and caution going out. I take bike rides, do my errands, and get right back inside. No socializing in groups and even one-on-one, maintaining social distance. I don’t know how long this is going to be the case, but I fear the worst. Fortunately, I am a natural introvert, so this is easier on me (and my introverted hubby) than our more social friends. But it is still inconvenient and frustrating, especially when only some of us US citizens are following the guidelines set out by the scientists and doctors.
Excellent post. My husband and I are in the vulnerable group, late 70s so the easiest way for me to decide what I should do, when socializing sounds wonderful, is to ask myself if it is worth dying for.
We have become concerned that both dogs and cats (and tigers!) can contract Covid.
Covid is present in the intestinal tract and “poo” for up to 2 months. Since dogs doo and sniff poo we’ve decided to have our dogs sleep in another room at night.
I understand your concern. There’s been some documented cases of COVID-19 transmitting from humans to pets, although there have not been many. That said, there’s been no documentated cases of the reverse (coronavirus transmitting from pets to humans), although it’ll require more research. I personally think the risk is very low indeed, so we sleep with Polly as we always have. As long as we take sensible precautions in our own lives, I believe Polly will be fine.
Nancy Mills says
Thank you so much for this very helpful post!! Not a “dark” post…actually you brought the light to so many things that everyone is facing these days. The beautiful pictures certainly were a nice thought:o)) Everyone has to determine what is and isn’t OK for them……….However, we should never forget how our behavior can impact others…both for the good or not so good!!! Stay Safe and Be Well and Healthy!!!!
Absolutely agree Nancy. Thanks for commenting.
Joanna Teran says
Hello Nina, I’m new to your blog after coming across a Travel Pin on Pinterest and always looking for new travel ideas. My husband and I love to do road trips (live in Arizona) since retiring four years ago. We don’t have an RV so either hotel it or find a timeshare. Our first big trip was 8500 miles, 9 national parks, 23 hotels in one month, making a big loop from AZ to UT, CA and up the OR/WA coastline, starting East hitting Glacier and Yellowstone NP before heading to Niagara Falls for our anniversary and later head home. With Covid we’ve had to postpone our May trip to SC and TN until next spring. Your post was not “dark”, just being truthful and real in the times we are living in right now. Our daughter is an ICU trauma nurse in Phoenix and as you know we are one of the “hot” spots in the county right now; she has urged us many times just to stay home and wait it out, knowing how we like to hit the road or fly somewhere, so that’s what we’ve been doing since early March. In January we’d already booked a cruise from FL to CA going through Panama Canal for next February, but until there is a vaccine not sure if we will keep the reservation to cruise, will decide in November before payment is due. It is now 5 am (many times can’t sleep) and I’ve read two of your posts, so need to get back to bed for a couple hours but I look forward to following your journeys! Stay well and we just all need to be patient and vigilant with this virus and be responsible by wearing a mask, washing our hands, and maintaining social distance.
Thanks for commenting. I think that anyone who knows someone in the medical field is well aware of how critical the situation is right now. The same is true for people who have been personally affected, or know somebody that has been seriously affected by the virus (which I do). These are the folks being careful. Sadly, many folks who have not “seen” the impacts for themselves are starting to become careless, or are simply dismissing the virus entirely. That’s the danger right now.
Please thank your daughter for all of us. She is on the front lines, and I know it’s incredibly tough there right now.
Love your posts and found this one particularly compelling. The day-to-day decisions in this new world are exhausting, but necessary. Stay safe and continue to enjoy that beautiful countryside.