Right from the start of the pandemic, I saw divides splitting our communities. The restrictions on businesses and school hit people differently. I wrote about it on March 23rd. It all still applies, on steroids!
People with children at home are juggling two or three full-time schedules.
Many of my clients still have jobs, either essential or with work-from-home schedules. These parents are also responsible to supervise the safety, entertainment, and education of their children. Even if their children’s teachers are conducting online learning, parents need to organize and supervise that learning. Extracurricular classes are also going on.
Who’s managing these schedules and assignments? More often than not, Mom is. This burden still falls more heavily on women in the United States. This is unpaid work that was offset by day care and school supervision, that is currently gone.
It is not a friendly gesture to share your recreational reading, or movie and TV offerings with a parent with a full-time job. It is sort of like bragging about your leisure.
Not all homes are private. Shared spaces feel dangerous.
If you have your own entrance, you can control what comes in and out of your house. However, if you share entrances, halls, or mail rooms with others, you are subject to their hygiene. This has made many people uncomfortable and distrustful of their neighbors. It encourages people to stay inside, not always in a good way.
Children’s playgrounds are closed in most places. People who used to depend on playgrounds to provide outdoor space are now hosed.
If you have no back yard, you have restless children with nowhere to play outside.
If you live in a multi-family dwelling, your safety in your yard is a matter of negotiation with the people you share the building with.
Sharing the bike path has become a battleground. The bike path gets pretty crowded now. It is car-safe, but the hostility about maintaining six feet is, well, hostile. People are yelling at one another, staring and glaring, and posting shaming comments. You can walk on the streets — and watch for cars. How much recreation can you get that way?
Some people feel more shut in because they cannot come and go from their home without passing through areas where other people could be infected. Take this seriously, and be kind.
Essential workers are working in risky situations.
Essential workers go to places that most of us are being told to avoid. Yet there they are, every day. Add to that, who is watching their children?
Lots of essential workers feel threatened, every day, by their work conditions.
- Support people you know who work in these conditions. You can share the fruits of your leisure by cooking for them or doing errands.
- Support local businesses first, before shopping on line.
- Support people you don’t know by being kind to strangers in retail environments and tipping delivery people.
Some people are falling through the economic safety net.
There was some relief last week, when gig workers began to apply for unemployment. Before that, many people spent a month without any income. Even now, not everyone is getting unemployment. Not all businesses are going to reopen when this is over. People who don’t file taxes in the traditional economy (this includes undocumented immigrants and occasional workers who don’t make enough to file taxes, and people to regularly work off the books) get no unemployment, but may currently be unable to work.
Some local businesses are asking for support. If the business, and the staff, are important to you, consider giving money or buying gift cards. Don’t assume all your friends are economically sound. Don’t assume that will tell you, if they are not.
Organizations that serve vulnerable populations are still serving them. Support those groups.
People living in structured environments are at greater risk.
People in independent living facilities, medical rehabs, and nursing homes are at high risk of infection. The infection-control measures have many of these people stuck in a single room for the duration of the lockdown. There have been deaths due to Covid-19 in these environments since February 29, in the United States.
People who are incarcerated, or arrested awaiting a hearing are also at high risk of infection. Many are locked down in small cells, meant only for sleeping. In Massachusetts, seven have died, and hundreds of inmates and staff are infected. In Louisiana, an entire dormitory for incarcerated women tested positive.
Not everyone’s private home is safe.
Gun violence and mass murder are linked to men who commit domestic violence. Keep in touch with your women-friends who are in relationships that you know have scared them. There is less of a pressure-relief valve between couples when everyone is home (when not at work).
Stay in touch with a child in an abusive home. It can be a lifeline for them, if they are frightened by their parents or siblings. Children are often helped out of abuse through the school system. During Covid-19, that door is closed. More suggestions for bystander intervention here, from more normal times.
Provide a communication link for people who may be living in an unsafe household. Times are even harder for them when they are home more with a potential abuser.
We are not in the same boat, but we are in the same ocean.