Stay home, keep others healthy: Social distancing doesn’t exclude personal exceptionalism

On March 12, Ohio governor Mike DeWine and Director of the Ohio Department of Health, Amy Acton ordered all schools to be closed for three weeks after the confirmation of Ohio’s fifth case of COVID-19. This would soon inspire further restrictions for social gatherings such as a temporary ban on visitors in hospitals, jails, nursing homes, bars, and restaurants. On March 22, the Ohio Department of Health issued a stay-at-home order. This order specifies essential businesses in Ohio that are to remain open, as well as non-essential businesses that must close temporarily.

The message has been abundantly clear throughout media: “Stay home.” “Flatten the curve.” “Do your part.” Social distancing in some cases is a life or death situation. With the incubation period for the virus being around 14 days, and those who are asymptomatic, presymtomatic, and very mildly symptomatic, is part of what makes this virus so dangerous. It’s important to remember that anyone can get this virus, and anyone can spread it.

For some Rockets, this pandemic is hitting close to home. Senior Megan Suckow’s sister-in-law is the lead pharmacy tech at Kroger. “She comes into contact with sick people all the time when they come to get their prescriptions. A lot of her techs in the pharmacy keep calling in sick or taking days off because they are too scared to come to work so she and a few other technicians are being overworked because they’re understaffed.”

Similarly, Theology teacher Teresa Davis’ brother is the Assistant Activities Director of Little Sisters of the Poor in Clifton. “I worry and then let it go, worry and then let it go every day,” Davis said. “He and I are all that is left of our little family, and I don’t want to lose him. He has several medical issues that puts him in the ‘compromised’ health category,” Davis added.

In regard to people continuing to violate the social distancing rules, Davis said: “I have no patience with this behavior and cannot believe people are so ignorant and uncaring. Personal exceptionalism is going to kill people. The science is real; carriers may not get sick but can make others sick.”

Junior Emily Sarge has also been closely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. “My mom works for TriHealth as the Supervisor of Employee Health. Usually [she] should be working about 40 hours a week, now she’s working 90 or more. Her long hours have been extremely stressful for her, my dad, my brother, and myself. She gets home really late now because she has to be on 24/7 call in case something happens, which means she often doesn’t get home until after midnight, and it’s been as late as 3 a.m. She also has to go in as early as 5:30, so she’s getting about an hour of sleep a night.”

Sarge added that “It’s been difficult with her not being home most of the time. I’ve probably seen her three times in the past three or so weeks, and when I do she’s still busy, tired, and stressed. It’s hard to see her not being able to take care of herself as much because of the workload she has. I also hear a lot of expectations for what’s going to happen during the pandemic from her just because of where she works, and it can be hard to not stress about it when it feels like the only news we get is bad news. I still see people on their Instagram and stories about going out and grabbing coffee or food with others, or hanging out at a park with their friends. It’s frustrating because I see how hard my mom is working to try and contain all this, and some people just don’t seem to care. I think people still aren’t taking it seriously because they’re young, and they think it won’t affect them, but just because they might be fine doesn’t mean that other people they may come in contact with will be. Older people, those with underlying medical conditions, and young kids aren’t expendable people in our society, and continuing to put these people at risk is really selfish.”

A respondent to a recent Milestone survey who wishes to remain anonymous said: “My oldest daughter is an oncology nurse. So far there are no plans to pull her into the hospital if things get bad. Treating cancer is one of the ‘non-elective’ things that they have to continue treating, but she will still have to be hands-on treating many people a day — there’s no social distance when you’re a nurse, so I do worry that she will be exposed. She has a husband and two grade school age kids.” This respondent also added: “My youngest son had really bad asthma when he was younger, up until about 2nd grade, every fall, he would lose at least a week of school when it would flare up. Allergies set it off. Then he out grew them, and they just didn’t bother him at all any more. But when he was a sophomore at McNick the H1N1 flu (swine flu) came through and he caught it. That particular flu triggered something with people who had (or had had) asthma. We ended up at the doctor, he [had to have] an emergency breathing treatment, and we went home with one of those finger things that measure the O2 in your blood. I had to take a week of work because he couldn’t be left alone, and he had to have breathing treatments every 4 hours for a week. At that time, some young people unexpectedly died from this reaction. The people who are dying now are having an unexpected reaction with the lungs. I really worry that he would be susceptible to that, because of his reaction to the swine flu. I thought Governor DeWine was over-reacting, but I could really thank him now. If you can’t see the difference between what he did, and what the other states did[n’t] and the problems they are having now –  you’re an idiot.”

Math teacher Bill Losekamp’s nephew works as a firefighter/EMS, and has to change out of his clothes in the garage every night and wash them. “My brother has an autoimmune disease and my nephew lives with him, [so my nephew] has to stay in his own room most of the time.”

Losekamp had a message to those who are still not following social distancing guidelines: “I think for some they are just very selfish and narrow minded and don’t see the bigger picture of how their actions can make others very sick and how they can dramatically affect the health of all those around them.”

Another anonymous respondent to the survey said: “Both [my] parents are Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. We already have N-95 masks at our house and at the ready. Grocery trips are done swiftly at the crack of dawn and the groceries obtained are sanitized before entering the house.” This respondent’s parents are both in the “high risk” group due to Asthma and age. They also added: “Anyone who is willing to be ignorant as to simply not follow the basic rules set out for the very serious pandemic that when you do this, you put your life on the line, you put your family on the line, and you put hundreds of lives on the line for only one night or one day or one hour even of your personal enjoyment.”

Social distancing does not exclude anyone. COVID-19 can be spread without symptoms ever being present. If you are thinking of going against the social distancing guidelines, think about the Rockets above who you are indirectly affecting. We are all hurting, and we can heal by staying home.

Click here to watch a video by the Ohio Health Department demonstrating the impact of social distancing.

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