It’s not a pretty word – COVID (Corona Virus Disease). It’s a pandemic. I’ve been dramatically referring to it as an apocalypse. Suddenly school is closed, jobs are suspended and we live in a place where society’s norms went out the window.
There are the ones caught right in the terrible middle. The ones that the disease didn’t miss. They’re in the hospital in agony, medicated, on a ventilator, or at home suffering and unable to get tested for COVID. Laboring to breathe and afraid to go out even to pick up their meds, but what can you do? Then there are the heroes working to exhaustion to comfort and cure the patients, some contracting the disease in the process. This and many other things are our new normal.
We are used to shaking hands and hugging. Eating in restaurants and gathering for concerts, movies and plays. St. Patrick’s Day and Easter are completely different this year.
We’re used to having March Madness for our basketball games baseball spring training, and it’s surreal that the Olympics will be – tentatively – held in an odd year.
The kids at home may be cute or driving us crazy or both. The adults are home from work – or home and still at work. Every business is trying to figure out how to do curbside or delivery or virtual. Every employee is wondering if their job will last or if they can get another one in an essential industry. But also… people are discovering their yard, their bicycle, their parks, their fishing poles. They have returned to their artwork and their home improvement and musical instruments.
These are the experiences, situations and stories of people dealing with the new reality.
Here below, from people who have written in, are the Saline County COVID Diaries.
March 27, 2020
Karen Gibson, Benton
Our new normal isn’t much different from our old normal. My husband still goes to work at Baptist SICU and I am still doing meal prep. The only real difference for us right now is that I worry about him a lot more and it’s harder to shop for meal prep ingredients.
On a positive note, everyone has had to slow their lives down. They have time to have conversations, even if it’s not face-to-face. People are spending more quality time with their family instead of rushing them out the door to classes, sports and other scheduled extracurricular activities. People are checking up on their neighbors and are willing to help out those in need. Neighborhoods are banding together to hang bears and other stuffed animals in their windows to give kids something to hunt for on walks. It’s a scary time for some and it’s good to see that there are still good people in the world. God Bless America.
March 26, 2020
Anonymous Nurse, Benton
My day starts with inventory. I get to count how many masks, face shields, N95s, gowns, shoe covers, bouffant caps, boxes of gloves, CPR shields, tubes of sanitizing wipes, bottles of sanitizer, etc we have. We take breaks 3 times per day to wipe all the door handles, desks, keypads, phones, etc down with cavicide.
All of our employees are self-monitoring their temperature daily and complete a screening daily. We are now trialing telemedicine with our nurse practitioner for face-to-face visits for facilities who wont let us in. So we are all having to learn that new technology. All of our home patients have to be screened before every staff contact, which is annoying and repetitive but everyone understands.
The biggest change, that has been more obvious than anything, is the amount of love I witness every day. I run a hospice, so I am used to seeing extraordinary displays of love… but what I have seen out of Saline County these lase 3 weeks has restored my faith in humanity. People are sending food to nursing homes, donating their time and skills to making masks because they know we will run out, putting bears in their windows for kids to find joy in, coloring their sidewalks with bright chalk, enjoying their families and spending more time together than they have in a long time.
People are more patient. Understanding. I watched a 30 something woman give an old lady the last package of ground beef at Kroger the other day.
The biggest change in my new routine, is humanity. Honestly it’s a scary time to operate a healthcare service during a Pandemic. But Saline County is going to pull through this stronger and together.
Misty Garrett, Benton
I am home spending time with my three rescue dogs: Latte, Joey, and Roxie. I’m teaching digitally from home now. I’m cleaning out cabinets and closets, watching tv, and reading books for the first time in a long time. I’m cooking more. I’m worried about my elderly parents and other family members, my sister, and Heath and Karly. However, I live by faith not fear. I’m missing friends and my students. One interesting thing is that I bought gas yesterday for $1.35 a gallon. I can see a blessing in all of this chaos. Families are spending time together, communities are helping each other out, and I am seeing where I need to make changes in my life to slow down and enjoy life more.
We are both retired and basically “homebodies” so staying home isn’t as hard as it is for so many. We have started ordering our groceries online and picking up. Being outside is great. Working in the yard. Reading a good book. Talking on the phone with family and friends. Church online. Counting our blessings. Watching a movie together.
Melanie McCann, Benton
How Am I Handling My New Normal? Here lately everyday as soon as I get up, I wash my face and hands with hot water and antibacterial soap. While I’m washing my face and hands, I sing the “ABC” Song twice to myself so that way I know that I have washed my hands right accordingly to the CDC Guidelines. Afterwards I go around my house and wipe everything down really good (even though I did it before I went bed the night before) with my Lysol Wipes. During the day, I sweep and mop my floors, I FaceTime with my family.
I listen to the Breaking News with President Trump and Governor Hutchinson to see if there is any changes. At night, my husband and I watch a lot of NETFLIX! Right before bed, I wash my face and hands again while singing the “ABC” Song!
I notice that I use hand sanitizer more and I wash my hands more through out the day, when I go out to the store, I take my hand sanitizer with me and I’m more afraid to touch things now if I don’t have to! I try to don’t get stressed out about it cause I know that I’m not alone, that we’re all in this together! I am very thankful that my grandmother taught me how to bake from scratch and that I plant a garden each year. And that she also taught me how to can food because I can go into my pantry and get things that I already canned. That helps me on just going to the store once a week and getting the things that I’m needing. That helps me save on money and the risk on not getting the COVID-19!
Lori Morrella, Malvern
I have learned to slow down, to appreciate the small things in life. I listen to nature more. I have gotten things done in my home that I kept putting off. I focus on God more. This has really made me think.
My daily life has not changed all that much. I am disabled so my trips out are mostly to go to my doctor’s appointments and my monthly trip to Kroger and the Dollar Store for a few necessities I can’t get elsewhere.
However, the issue that has affected me the most is the closing of all the food banks in Saline county. I count on the food banks to get me through each month so I can have food to eat. I can’t afford to buy everything I need at the grocery store. I just can not afford to do that. It is just too expensive.
I know that a lot of other disabled, homeless and elderly people do too. They have made certain that families have food for the kids that are not in school (and that is awesome) but no one has made any effort for anyone else who relies on the services that are now unavailable. Every month there are tons of disabled, homeless and elderly that rely on the food banks to assist those who are low income in Saline county like myself. What are those people supposed to do to fill that void when buying the food is not an option? I do not have the answers but I worry about all the people that I have met over the years at the food banks, especially the elderly. I worry they are going hungry and nothing is being done for them.
If this is the “new normal,” I am not sure how long people like me can take it. Not very long I imagine.
Click for instructions on how to submit – www.mysaline.com/covid-submit
Tia Wind, Just Ice Cream, Benton
My day starts the same as any other… wake up, post our daily hours/specials, etc on social media, meditate, elevate my mood as much as I can to feel as much gratitude and joy possible and get ready for the day.
At 1 p.m. we open the ice cream shop and start slinging the ice cream. The crowds come in a steady wave, but now we can’t let them inside the shop. They have to order from their car or the sidewalk and we take it to them. It’s a little strange not having people come in, sample the ice cream, enjoy sitting in the window watching people pass by…
Now it’s a steadily ringing phone with customers suffering from cabin fever and the need to just get out for some fresh air… and ice cream!
We are loving the support of this amazing community! So many old and new friends come to see us and BEG us to stay open. Ice cream is their comfort food… A piece of ‘normal’ in their weird new schedules. We are blessed to be considered ‘essential’ during this time! At least for now! And please know… we wash our hands incessantly and wear gloves at all times… we’ve gone through BOXES in just a couple weeks.
It’s definitely a strange time… but we will get through it with a little help from our friends!
K. McCauley, Benton
My new norm isn’t terribly different from my old norm, other than the fact I don’t get to go to restaurants and be social. I’m very extroverted. I am working from home so I really enjoyed time getting out with friends.
That has come to a halt. We are staying inside except for grocery shopping.
I am enjoying my kids being home from college and the extra time with family!
Business has definitely slowed down, people aren’t focused on insurance right now, but we will all pull through this together!
Click for instructions on how to submit – www.mysaline.com/covid-submit