People who know me will describe me as a level-headed person who doesn’t panic easily (or ever). However, I’m fist-bumping and elbow-touching friends and relatives since COVID-19 has become part of all our lives.
Hugging my grandkids? It is a bit off-putting, since I know that my dear grandchildren are germ factories. And their parents are vulnerable to the catch-of-the day with whatever is going around the school or pre-school, so now it’s the contact with elbows or fists instead of hugging. I’m relieved that it appears kids aren’t catching the virus the way that older folks are.
My wife and I are in the over-70 crowd that is the most vulnerable. We take no offense at “OK, Boomer,” but does that minor insult indicate a potential death sentence? Despite assurances from our president that it’s “just like the flu” (yes, we get flu shots every year), I’m wiping down the grocery cart handles and doing the hand washing number (“Happy Birthday” x 2) when I get back from the store.
Oh, I almost forgot: We were in Akumal, Mexico two weeks ago. Check the having-been-in-a-foreign-country box.
The conventional wisdom for the older crowd is that the more ailments you have, the greater the danger of dying from this virus. I have to admit that my pre-existing conditions would make me non-insurable without great insurance. Thank you, State of New Jersey, for retirement health coverage that is “Rolls-Royce.” I’m guessing that with all the money they’ve expended on my health benefits, they are rooting for me to be the first to go in Colorado.
I’ve got a packet of hand sanitizers in the car, a 40-count container of Clorox wipes by the front door, and I’m keeping my distance from others in crowded rooms or stores. There is a YouTube video that shows how to do a fist bump with your feet, but it raises each foot to calf-height for the toe-tap. And for folks over 70, especially with osteoporosis, the move could result in an out-of-balance fall, possibly resulting in a broken bone. I’ll skip that kind of greeting.
A big casualty of cancellations is the spring festival of South By Southwest (SXSW) which was to take place next week in Austin, Texas with 300,000 to 400,000 attendees. Our son-in-law has been contracting for several years doing set design and construction for a number of exhibitors at the conference. He may be all right financially, since many of his customers are big vendors and he had received some advance payments.
However, our 14-year-old grandson was due to come here during the festival. The flight on Spirit was only $291 including having a representative for unaccompanied minors who would accompany him from the gate in Austin and another in Denver. Usually the airlines, aside from Southwest, don’t allow any cancellations or changes to a ticket without severe financial penalties. However, Spirit, as well as most airlines, are taking COVID-19 seriously. I’m guessing that Spirit is willing to forego some of the cancellation fees in light of having a sick passenger (or one who doesn’t exhibit any symptoms but still may be a carrier) infect a planeload of passengers.
So we will instead be doing FaceTime videos with our grandson during the time he would have spent with us. Another casualty may be our cruise from Barcelona to Turkey in October. We have–or maybe had–a nice trip scheduled with our vacation buddies from New Jersey.
So, should older (I won’t say “elderly” for another ten or fifteen years) cruise passengers with pre-existing conditions not take the risk of getting on a cruise ship? I’m agnostic about that question, but leaning toward cancellation. I compare it to sending a mail-in ballot too early: Your favorite candidate may drop out of the race after you submit the ballot, which is what happened to a number of voters prior to primary election day this year. The coronavirus problem may have passed by the time the cruise is to set sail, so I don’t want to cancel too soon.
I must say that the confusing “facts” that emanate from our government are most distressing. Politics should not enter this situation. This is for the health of the U.S. as well as the rest of the world. Getting a more rosy picture of the day is not worth the “reward” of an election win.
I’m not in the crowd of investors who get panicky or elated with the news of the day, either. The market giveth and taketh away with the short-term crowd of investors. I’m in for the long term (whatever that means, with my age and health.)
I just hope we can get the truth from our president so that we are able to make good decisions for ourselves.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this Opinion Column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any staff member, contribution writer or the Lyons Recorder.