Pandemic Perception Permeates Public Policy

The news co-anchor was reporting his share of the 5 pm broadcast from his house. He was nearly inaudible and his fuzzy picture suddenly broke up and disappeared. A day later his home had been transformed into a high-def studio.

Why does TV news insist on attempting to continue a format that isn’t even relevant now? They’re showing off their homes while demonstrating their lack of competence with computer technology. And adding a face mask to a reporter on location just demonstrates how well the mask filters sound.

It isn’t just them. All of us think we can go on with our routines as we always have. But then we realize we can’t even borrow a cup of sugar from a neighbor. We can wave at them and holler a greeting but that’s about it.

The internet has helped make this crisis easier to tolerate for those of us with access to it. But if you haven’t yet learned how to use online shopping and banking, you missed your chance when your grandkids could still visit and show you how. If you can figure it out, now would be a good time to set up automatic payments and deposits. See how long you can go without writing a check and mailing it. Do as much commerce as you can on the internet. This doesn’t mean shopping exclusively on Amazon. Many local merchants provide online services and, of course, you can still call any of them.

Can students be taught remotely? Sure, but it’s definitely not a standard classroom setting. For all the talk of using technology in education, teachers know we are nowhere close to having functional long-term distance learning. This school year will become a case study in remote education.

Other internet (virtual) services that have been trying to get a foothold now have a chance. This includes things like guitar and piano lessons (any instrument, really). Medical consults with a nurse, doctor or psychologist are becoming acceptable. Even your plumber or electrician can help troubleshoot problems with visual communication. Church services just aren’t the same on the internet but they still provide spiritual fellowship. Virtually anything can now be virtual.

Catherine had an online reunion with 14 college classmates (St. Catherine’s, of course, class of 1977). They live all over the country now and would not have thought to do this prior to the pandemic. Now they plan to meet monthly.

A lot of non-internet things are changing. The narrow aisles in some grocery stores have been converted to one-way streets with directional arrows on the floor to help keep shoppers better distanced from each other. Reusable grocery bags, which save on trash, are out. Nothing is returnable.

And please use a credit or debit card, not cash. We may stop using cash altogether since it is apparently dirtier than dirt itself. That sounds unachievable, but already you can transfer cash to your nephew for his birthday in a text message. He will greatly appreciate it because Millennials and younger generations hate carrying cash. Send him a virtual card, too.

We’ll quite possibly be carrying a card that acts as a certificate of immunity to the coronavirus. It just might be your golden ticket to be accepted back into society, such as at restaurants. And for awhile, restaurant staff might be wearing masks. We might be required to wear them, too. For more formal dining we’ll wear a mask like an accessory that matches our clothes.

We may never shake hands again. We’ll use the fist or elbow bump. This also eliminates shaking the wet hand of someone who just exited the bathroom. There are other hand gestures, some of which require hand contortions not possible with arthritic hands.

The buzz haircut is returning and not just for men. If you can’t get it styled the way you usually do, just cut it all off. It accentuates our current deer-in-the-headlights look and it’ll grow back.

A lot of septic systems are failing because they are being overused. Well, they were designed with the normally prudent assumption that a family of five wouldn’t all be home all day every day.

Nursing homes will never be the same. There may be strict procedures just to visit residents. Maybe your temperature will be checked at the door. Maybe you’ll need that golden ticket to get in.

Social distancing may stay with us going forward. Well, no problem. We’re already experts at it here in flyover land.

Farmers, especially dairy, are just pushed down further. How aggravating it must be faced with low prices and still have to dump milk.

There are a few positive changes the virus has caused. Gas is cheap, although there’s no place to go. Highway and bridge work can commence almost unimpeded by traffic. Smoking and vaping may decrease because smoking weakens the immune system and inflames the lungs, just what the virus is looking for. There is less air pollution, lessening the effects of global warming. The forced quarantine slows us down so we have time to review our lives and think about what is most important to us.

And the homeless are exempt from the stay-at-home order.

At home, Catherine doesn’t even bother putting her martini glass and olive pick away anymore. Just wash them and set them back on the counter.

I wonder what else will change, especially if there’s a second wave.

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