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Thought we should be physically avoiding each other, we need community more than ever.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus: How to Protect Your Community and Your Soul from COVID-19

Hello precious readers.

Piggy and I decided to halt our regularly scheduled programming to talk to you a little about what’s going on in the world right now.

We will be writing more about this topic very soon—particularly the financial and economic aspects, as they are ~*kinda our thing*~. So if you’re worried about how to handle absences at work, or being fired, or what to do with the money you have in the bank right now, stay tuned for more. We’re speeding up our normal writing schedule to answer questions as fast as we can. (Anyone can submit questions through our Tumblr. Patreon donors can message us directly.)

Today we’re going to reinforce the most important advice: how to be good at coronavirusing!

Which is to say: how to be a safe, respectful, engaged, and helpful member of the global community during this crisis where we need each other desperately, yet ironically should be physically avoiding each other!

And for that, we’re gonna need any viral researchers, vaccine synthesizers, medical professionals, state governors, and similar to go ahead and stop reading BGR articles. Piggy and I really agonized over this decision, but it’s final. I know we have a very witty and relatable writing style, but it’s time for you to Go Do The Thing. So go on now, y’all—git!

… Are they gone?

Okay. For the rest of you: we have great news! Your job is significantly simpler and easier. In fact, there are really only a few things you can do. Here’s what you can (and must) do to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

Understand the goal

Don’t misunderstand the purpose of extreme measures like school closings and event cancellations.

We aren’t facing a virus so lethal that isolation is the only way to survive. This ain’t a zombie movie. Nobody’s gonna cough on you and send you into instant convulsions.

We also aren’t trying to stop the virus. The virus isn’t a thing to be stopped. The virus was in a box, and Pandora walked by and was all like “OoOoH wHaT’s tHiS???” and now it’s out in the world, never to go back in the box. Given enough time, every human on the planet will be exposed to it.

What we are trying to do is slow down the infection rate to avoid overwhelming our medical infrastructure. That’s really it! If your local hospital has 500 beds, we don’t want all 50,000 people in your town getting sick in the same week. You may have heard this concept called “flattening the curve.” The Washington Post has a great explanation.

Practice good hygiene

The international disease prevention community has spoken. Wash your hands, you dirty dinguses! they cry in unison in a hundred tongues. With soap, for at least twenty seconds. Then put some lotion on, or the ancient Egyptians are gonna be trying to write hieroglyphs on that papyrus you call hand skin.

Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands. Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze—that is if you are some kind of bioengineered super soldier who has thirty seconds of advance notice before sneezing. For us dinky average-os, your elbow is better than your hand, and your hand is better than nothing.

Know the symptoms

I went on a planned vacation recently and got back just before things started to get serious. I woke up the next morning with a nose full of snot. “This is it,” I thought as I blew my nose.

Uh, or not. I just had a snotty nose because I’d been on a plane. Planes are dry! My bomb-ass mucus membranes were trying to do me a solid by making extra snot! (Thx btw, membranes.)

You need to look out for fever, fatigue, and a dry cough. Itchy eyes and sneezing? Take a Zyrtec and calm the fuck down, ya got seasonal allergies. Vomiting and diarrhea? Well, that’s not good, but unlikely to be COVID-19.

If you think you could be sick, don’t sprint straight to the ER. You want to be proactive, but you also don’t want to contribute to overtaxing the ER with avoidable false alarms. Start by calling your doctor, and describing your symptoms. They will know the best course of action.

Unleash the introverted beast within

If you’re a virus, and you want to spread as far and as quickly as you can, you’d probably seek out a big gathering of people who will all press in close together, then travel home to disparate communities. This is why you’re seeing things like conferences, rallies, events, and sportsball games being canceled. 

That’s why you’re going to avoid crowds whenever possible. And when you go to high-traffic areas you can’t avoid (like grocery stores), you’re going to operate with the assumption that everybody has cooties, and you haven’t had your circle-circle dot-dot. Stand a few feet away when you can; don’t hug or shake hands; do your business quickly and head home to wash up.

Again, the goal here is to avoid infecting a bunch of people all at once. So you don’t have to be a shut-in or a complete hermit. There is potential risk if you and a couple of healthy friends get together for board games to stave off Social Distance Madness. But it is magnitudes less risky than an international conference hosted at a large hotel with even a single infected participant.

Shop prudently

It’s wise to leave your home as little as possible. Which means you need enough food, household goods, prescription medications, and other supplies to last for a few weeks if you can swing it. So get enough fridge- and shelf-stable items to minimize trips out.

Please, please, please support your local small businesses. They will be hit very hard by this quarantine. Many will not survive. And that’s okay! The survival of businesses is nothing compared to the survival of humans. But after this crisis passes—and it will—it would be awful for our economy and our communities if only mega-corporations were left standing.

Don’t buy more than you need

Don’t imagine for a moment that we will praise your prudence for shopping like a doomsday prepper.

If you’re grabbing extra soap, hand sanitizer, medical masks, toilet paper, canned food, and bulk shelf-stable staples, you can fuck right off. It doesn’t make you smart—it makes you a selfish asshole. I will shoot lasers out of my eyes at you and your cart heaped high with enough paper towels to reconstruct Sequoia National Park.

Don’t spread panic, rumors, disinformation, racism, and other ludicrous fuckery

Let’s go through some of the kinds of misinformation I’ve seen… despite the RAMPAGING HEADACHE it’s sure to give me.

No, the virus didn’t come from bat soup. The “bat soup” thing is racist and factually inaccurate. It perpetuates the idea that all our misfortunes can be traced back to dirty foreigners and their barbarous ways. If you spread racism in this dark hour, you’re a gaping dick hole weeping a substance rather like watery cottage cheese.

No, black people aren’t less likely to get COVID-19. I don’t actually think that one is racist per say—it’s just dangerously unscientific and could easily become racist. If infection rates are lower in predominantly black areas, it’s probably because of travel patterns. If you repeat this “theory,” you’re a crusty banana I claimed I was saving to make banana bread, but I was lying—you have gnats swarming around you and you’re going into the trash.

No, drinking hot liquids won’t kill the virus. For god’s sake, people, this one isn’t even logical! This pandemic started in China, a nation that rather famously loves hot tea and consumes it in great quantities! There is no quick nor easy nor secret nor natural remedy for this pandemic. There’s no Japanese or Indian or American doctor with “one weird trick.” This virus will not be stopped by swishing coconut oil around in your mouth, nor by rubbing essential oils on your temples, nor by gargling with salt water. If you spread misinformation like this, you’re that girl in junior high who traced good artwork and claimed she drew it.

If local or federal governments are enacting new security measures, you will not hear about it in a chain text. Especially not from your elderly Fox News-addled relatives. These messages encourage panic and distrust. If you forward them along, you’re just a plain old jabroni. 

Think before you share information. If you’re not sure if it’s true, sit on it—it’s better to share nothing than to share information that will hurt people. Get your news from major news outlets that have rigorous fact-checking standards. (If any doctors discover “one weird trick” I’m pretty sure CNN will get on that story eventually.) Don’t blindly trust what Some Guy said in a comment thread below your erotic Overwatch fan fiction. We live in an era of lightning-fast news cycles. If it’s true, it’ll be quickly verified elsewhere.

Don’t minimize

What is even up with the people who are humble-bragging about how not-worried they are about this virus?!

Like! Do you think anyone is impressed by that, or…???

Look, man. No one cares. Most of the people who are worried about COVID-19 aren’t worried because they’re cringing hypochondriacs. Plenty of folks will get only mild cold- or flu-like symptoms.

We’re worried because we’re thinking of the old folks, the immunocompromised, the people with existing conditions, the pregnant people, the little kids, and people in areas with poor medical infrastructure.

We’re thinking of all the people who will lose income, blow through their emergency funds, and get stuck in a cycle of debt. We’re concerned by the impact this will have on learning, and all the medical professionals who’re putting their own health at risk. We’re most afraid that people with survivable illnesses will not survive because we didn’t do all we could to soften the spread of this disease.

We are all-in on dank vaccine memes and dark-ass jokes because humor is a very valid coping mechanism. But do try to remember that someone’s grandma has this illness right now. Try to balance the need for pressure release with a little sensitivity.

Be the leader you wish you had

This is an interesting time for leadership. Times like these separate the true leaders from That Guy Who Has the Leader Job. The former inspires and calms; the latter creates unnecessary confusion and chaos.

If you thought you weren’t a leader in your community, maybe now is your moment! If no one is telling you what to do—in your school, your workplace, your town—move forward anyway. Do what you think is best, and do it confidently. Wait for someone to stop you. They probably won’t! They’ll probably join you!

A key part of this is having the right attitude.

When you think about it, these extreme measures aren’t scary. They’re beautiful. We’re coming together to make an enormous sacrifice to reduce the risk of our community members dying unnecessarily for want of medical care. We encourage you to think and speak in this way, not only because it’s true, but because it’s helpful.

Nobody needs edgelord pessimism, suspicion, fear, or shrug emojis right now. If the people around you are nervous, try to calm them. If they’re hopeless, give them something to hold on to. And if that doesn’t feel authentic, can I introduce you to the concept of faking it until you make it?

Stress, anxiety, and disconnection make absolutely everything worse. Kill it with fire. The fire of civic responsibility!

Be incredibly kind to others

Most of our readers are young folks at low risk during this pandemic. Many of you are students who suddenly have a lot more time on your hands as classes are canceled and commutes are no longer an issue.

Use that time well, in the service of others.

COVID-19 is already present in my county and town. Our neighborhood has rallied together on NextDoor and Facebook. Individuals who aren’t at high risk for serious complications from coronavirus are running errands for people in quarantine, leaving groceries and medicine on their doorstep.

Multilingual folks are translating important news updates for our diverse community. Medical professionals working longer hours have neighbors lined up to care for their kids and pets. Local businesses are giving out free lunches to children, no questions asked. Every request for help vanishes within minutes as good people leap to help each other.

It’s astonishingly uplifting and empowering. You can be part of it in your town. If no one is doing it, see above and start it yourself.

At minimum, please give every ounce of your patience and kindness to people who have to work during this time. People who rely on shift work and tips are going to be hit the hardest financially. And their jobs have never been harder. They’re managing huge crowds, busted supply lines, additional cleaning regiments, armies of angry Karens—all while worrying about their own health and childcare and any number of other things.

These workers are giving their all. They are taking one for the team. Respect that. Be nice. Tip like a monster.

Preserve your sanity

Doing good is like singing in a choir. Nobody sings continuously, all the time. You hide your rests in the strength of the group.

So here’s your permission, if you need it: do what feels good. Pour yourself a big ol’ adult beverage. Eat a whole box of Better Cheddars. Watch whatever Netflix trash you want. Pick fights with people on Reddit over which Final Fantasy was the best. Try to do your eyeliner differently, because it’s gonna look terrible but no one will see it! (Unless you email me photos. EMAIL ME PHOTOS. I bet you look great.)

Also, remember that stuck inside does not equal stuck indoors. It’s springtime! The birds are singing out there! Open your windows! Go for a walk! Find somewhere to hike! Look up some YouTube videos on exercises to do at home! Piggy took this whole social distancing thing to another level and went camping!

We have a long list of free things you can do to improve your mental health and/or treat yo’self. Check it out and try to find ways to stay entertained. If it’s selfish to sit in a hot bath and sip boxed wine while reading random Wikipedia articles about cursed gemstones, I am proud to call myself selfish, because that’s exactly what I plan to do tonight.

Vote

Let’s close with some really embarrassing dumbass bullshit:

  • The richest nation on the planet doesn’t give everyone a basic level of affordable healthcare.
  • Our cost of living has risen so steeply, while our incomes have stagnated so spectacularly, that one disruption in a pay cycle can wreck the life of a hardworking person.
  • Some people don’t have paid sick days, which forces them to work while sick, further spreading sickness.
  • Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in our country.
  • We can find the money for useless border walls and fighter jets, but we can’t find the money to staff a small team of pandemic response coordinators.
  • Our elected officials act quickly when the stock market is in danger, but drag their feet when human beings are at risk of hunger and sickness.

If your state hasn’t yet voted, please cast your vote for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. He is the only candidate who’s demonstrated a consistent understanding of the scope of change we deserve.

It’s an incredible time to be alive, folks! That’s all for now, but there will be more soon. How are you feeling? Got any ideas for how to be helpful? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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15 thoughts to “Love in the Time of Coronavirus: How to Protect Your Community and Your Soul from COVID-19”

  1. “When you think about it, these extreme measures aren’t scary. They’re beautiful. We’re coming together to make an enormous sacrifice to reduce the risk of our community members dying unnecessarily for want of medical care. We encourage you to think and speak in this way, not only because it’s true, but because it’s helpful.”

    Amen. Despite all the anxiety we’re feeling these days, there is a neat kind of feeling in there, too: that a lot of us are doing the little things to help protect our friends, neighbors, & family members. That’s fucking cool, right?

  2. But seriously y’all, please stop panic-stocking-up. I currently have a grand total of six things in my fridge but I can’t go grocery shopping because the only stores that have anything for sale are the Asian groceries and their hours don’t support my second-shift sleep cycle. (Just wanted to complain, I am very frustrated and also out of onions, milk, and bread.)

  3. Hello from France which has just switched to the strictest lockdown mesures to protect hospitals. This is particularly relevant here in the East of France, where the hospitals are hardest hit. Glad to finally see some leadership from the government, rather than individuals having to bear the brunt of it.

    It’s maybe not really the time but this is an interesting experiment on many levels. In France, a lot of employees will be able to claim 70% of their salary as a sort of temporary unemployment benefit, as so many businesses are closed (anything non-essential). A lot of people will be stuck at home without work, but still having money coming in – it’s kind of like a UBI experiment. I just hope no-one goes too stir crazy – some people really don’t know what to do with themselves all day without the structure of work.

    Also, there is a class struggle issue. Confinement will be alright if you have a nice, comfortable home with a garden and spare rooms and extra bathrooms to confine yourself too if you get sick. But what about people in less than ideal living situations, in small cramped living spaces. Or homeless people? Also, not everyone can work from home. The big issue here will be supermarkets, as they can’t stop. Also, as the schools are off, there’s online learning instead, but certain families will be able to manage that better than others. Anyway, I’m sure you’re going to explore all these issues. It’s less of an issue in France, where the state takes care of more things, but still a problem. And don’t get me started on panic buying which is only for people with cars, garages and chest freezers and that’s not everybody!

    Finally what’s interesting is the capacity for the whole of society to flip into emergency/wartime mode so fast. We often hear that we would need these kinds of measures to sort out the climate crisis. Well, here’s the trial run. I also think there are a lot of parallels between climate denial and coronavirus “denial” (it’s only a few cases, the numbers are small, nothing to worry about, it’s a problem for the Chinese, for old people etc etc…).

    So anyway, it’s a difficult but curious time and we’ll just have to take it day by day and look out for each other from afar. Make sure you check in with everyone by text, video call etc, whatever you can do to make sure everyone is ok.

  4. I’m wondering if we can come up with some kind of Salaried Workers Code of Conduct to spread benefits around a bit. I’m very aware that I will actually save money during this pandemic: I won’t spend what I usually would on travel/going out/social activities/etc. I don’t need to be emergency saving because I work from home while self-isolating, my meds are free, and both me and my partner have fully paid sick leave if we need it. I know a lot of people in a similar situation are trying to do something to help, but would we be able to agree on best practice/list of things you might consider doing?

    1. Please consider tipping out to contractors! We get none of those benefits and are often the first line to be cut from businesses. I translate for a living, and it would be unethical for me to not be translating medical information my community needs SOONER rather than later, but I’m also not getting paid.

  5. I work in tv production and all shows are shut down for the foreseeable further. It’s really scary because everyone I know in the industry is out of work or will be soon. I’m in the accounting department and will probably only have work for 1-2 more weeks. My plan is to go on unemployment once i get laid off and then wait the virus out with the rest of the tv/ film world until this is over and my show starts up again. It’s just worrying because any health emergency would most likely be financially overwhelming.

  6. Thanks Kitty and Piggy! I opened this thinking “not another corona virus article” and ended up a little more informed, inspired and relaxed when I finished reading! I’d love it if you guys did a follow up article about a possible recession due to the virus, where to park your money, etc.

  7. For those in the NYC area who want to help out local restaurants and their staff, please check out https://supportrestaurants.org It’s a new group that’s organizing restaurants to offer gift cards at a reduced price ($75 for a $100 card, etc) that are redeemable after a later date, like in 30 or 60 days. So you can support local restaurants now, they can afford to pay staff now, and you can go to the restaurant after things return to normal for a tasty meal. The link above takes you to the organization’s site and they link to participating restaurants. You save money on the gift card and they can stay in business and afford to pay staff for time off during this mess. It looks like it’s super new so so more restaurants are joining and not all have set up their sites to sell the gift cards yet, but hopefully that all gets set up soon.

  8. “There is potential risk if you and a couple of healthy friends get together for board games to stave off Social Distance Madness. But it is magnitudes less risky than an international conference hosted at a large hotel with even a single infected participant.”

    ^^ while this is true, you still shouldn’t be getting together with people from other households given how easy it is to spread this virus. Here’s the story of a lady who got it from a house party in Seattle: 40% of party attendees wound up wound up with it.

    Instead, you can organize a virtual happy hour! Netflix is also setting up social distancing movie nights: https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/tv/2020/03/17/coronavirus-netflix-party-lets-friends-do-movie-nights-quarantine/5072347002/

    Lots of ways to socialize creatively instead.

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