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  • Jan Flynn

Pandemic Pointers

Aunty Body is here with some advice.

I know, dearie. It’s no cakewalk, waking up to another day of this. Whether your region is lurching into a Wild West of reopening or is still locked down tighter than a miser’s wallet, you’ve got the same nagging questions you did eight weeks ago. Is this a slow-mo unfolding of the end of the world as we know it, or is a vaccine or treatment just over the horizon?

Can you go back to work? Can you not go back to work? Will you ever get to travel again? Can you ever afford to travel again? How about just going out to dinner?

What about that scratchy throat you had this morning? Could it mean you have Covid-19? Or what about that nasty, endless flu you had back in early February before the world bounced off its tracks? What if you’ve already had the Dread Covid? Does that mean you’re immune? Can you get it again?

So much tedious uncertainty, day after day. I can see you’ve had about enough of all this coronavirus business.

Unfortunately, dearie, the coronavirus hasn’t had enough of you.

As far as it’s concerned, you and everyone you care about are just hosts-in-waiting, potential traveling incubators for its relentless, mindless progress around the globe.

The point is, we’re going to be here for some time — how much time, nobody knows, and if they tell you otherwise they’re selling something — so we’re going to have to knuckle down and buck up for a bit longer.

But while the institutions you’d normally look to for leadership during a catastrophe — the White House and large swaths of the Senate come to mind — are too busy rejecting reality to be much use, you don’t have to face this crisis without guidance.

There are many dedicated researchers, epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists, and other very smart and determined people at work right this minute, all over the world, figuring out what will work to bring this pandemic to an end.

You want to listen to people like that, rather than the ones who are spinning conspiracy theories or trying to get re-elected. And for practical tips in the meantime, your Auntie Body is here for you. Here are four thoughts I think will help:

1. Your mask is your new smile.

Yes, you should wear a mask in public. Carry one with you at all times, and put it on before you enter any place where there might be other people. I know, it’s stuffy and muffles your voice, but consider the upside (besides protecting your health and the health of everyone else).

Get creative, or go shopping: here’s your chance to build a whole new wardrobe in a category you never even considered a few months ago. You can change your identity every time you leave the house! While running errands you can pretend you’re a ninja or a highwayman, a veiled Mata-Hari-era spy, or a brain surgeon (if you’re not already a brain surgeon). It’s like Halloween every day!

Just wear one. Otherwise, you risk an unpleasant default persona: Antisocial Dick.

2. Hair growing out? Hats are the answer.

You may emulate my sombrero if that sets your jello. Just don’t pester your poor hairstylist until he/she/they get the go-ahead and a credible way to update your locks without putting themselves, or you, at ridiculous risk.

Therefore hats. See? More shopping!

3. If you think you’re sick and can access a test, do it.

We’re still dreadfully behind with testing in the U.S., but it’s becoming more widely available. And the more testing data we have, the better we can understand this viral beastie. So if you do start exhibiting symptoms — and no, you don’t necessarily have to have a fever to take them seriously — stop waffling; get tested.

There’s a bit of waiting and form-filling to contend with, but the test itself takes less than a minute, and while it feels weird to have a swab sent up your nostril, it is hardly the “operation” of which our Current Occupant claims to have been a “victim.” How the man withstood bone spurs, I can’t imagine.

4. Don’t argue with the Covid-deniers.

You know who I mean: the maskless ungloved who crowd into a bar in Wisconsin or the odd restaurant in Colorado, or jam the beaches in Florida or California. Not to mention those who gather in gun-toting groups on the steps of state capitals, demanding their freedom to expose themselves (and everyone else) to a disease for which there’s still no treatment.

Getting into a tiff with these folks — whether they’re aggressively resistant or just breathtakingly oblivious — does nobody any good. Underneath their bravado is very human fear, so send them a silent dose of compassion and maintain your composure. Nothing you say will convince them anyway, and you’ll only end up frustrated and angry.

That’s not good for you, dear.

So, keep your chin up (and your mask firmly over your nose and mouth) and carry on. This won’t last forever.

And if Aunty Body’s wisdom isn’t enough to make you feel better, my friend here will:

Be well, everybody.

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