Keep Calm! Containment & Preparedness Keys To Community Readiness For Covid-19
As Staten Island, NYC, and NJ Slow Grind To A Halt…
Concerns are at a fever pitch today as Staten Islanders prepare for the worst, on CDC orders. But stay calm. Everything’s under control.
Luckily, we’ve had ample time to plan our response, and our communities are ready, all across the region.
The Center for Disease Control asks us to draft “a household plan on action”, “get to know our neighbors”, and familiarize our families with aid organizations in our communities that can help with food and supplies, as well as health and mental hygiene counseling.
President Trump just declared a National Emergency. Up to 50 billion dollars of funds for states will be earmarked from the Federal Government to help deal with the novel Coronavirus.
Widespread testing will be available, shortly. Interest on Federal student loans is waived, for now.
But for many people living “hand-to-mouth” on weekly wages, this situation is not a good one. Many workers are being placed on temporary leave. Employees working in connection with Broadway shows are but one sub-set. Life is stopping, but bills must still be paid.
Households are already getting ready across Staten Island and beyond.
This is to be accomplished in two ways: containment and preparedness.
Containment means avoiding crowds and practicing personal hygiene conducive to keeping the spread of Coronavirus at bay. Preparedness means stocking up on supplies and food and beverages, but it’s a lot more than that.
This pandemic is unlike anything any of us have lived through, and so it calls for measures unseen before.
This will require patience, calmness, and intelligence.
Our government is prepared to deal with this pandemic, and doing more behind the scenes to keep everything stable and running than could be imagined. However, even as Emergency Service units throughout the Nation have been training for quite some time for numerous threats, including a pandemic, the real thing is a lot more chaotic than simulations let on.
Don’t be scared by big news media sensationalizing doom with headlines dripping with fear; as always, they are just trying to sell papers and garner online clicks, but know that this is a real threat, even so.
Capitalizing on fear is just plain wrong. So, approach this with a brave heart and clear head and act appropriately.
At the same time, remember that the Covid-19 pandemic is an extremely serious matter, the novel Coronavirus bringing forth a novel situation for our global economy, our Nation, NYS, NYC, and Our Island.
Six state governors have activated their respective National Guard personnel, so far: Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, New York, Rhode Island and Washington.
Their mission is to help contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus, and Guardsmen will also help distribute food to families and perform other crucial services for the communities they are stationed in.
New Rochelle, a Westchester County city, has been declared a “containment zone.” The New York National Guard are presently overseeing the city’s emergency plans.
Grocery store shelves are already emptying across Staten Island and surrounding New Jersey counties as residents prepare for extended stays at home, if necessary.
Part of this is a desire to be ready, but it’s also driven by a fear of the unknown. None of us know what will come next or when this will end.
We’re clearly in uncharted territory.
Wisely, families are stocking up on non-perishable food items, as well as basic health care supplies. Lines are incredible.
Even so, there have been no reports of violence or stampedes, as seen on infamous Black Friday post-Thanksgiving sales.
Think of this as another 9-11 or Superstorm Sandy, a tragedy to be sure, but one that is arriving far more slowly, with ample time to prepare. A super-slow moving storm, of sorts.
It looks like we’re all pulling together as a community, as we collectively acknowledge the grave risk at hand, at least intuitively.
Target, Walmart, and other chair stores are placing limits on how much toilet paper, hand wipes, and hand sanitizer each shopper may purchase.
Google is offering a free website to help people make a better determination as to whether they should seek testing. The app is being developed by Verily, a healthcare company focusing on technology owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
Mega-retailer Walmart will be setting up drive-through testing in its giant stores’ parking lots. Test results will be available in about a day’s time, and can be accessed securely online.
President Trump had this to say: “I want to thank Google. Google is helping to develop a website, it’s gonna be very quickly done…to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location.”
Governor Cuomo, in efforts to stem price gouging on hand sanitizer, increased production of “NYS Clean,” a hand sanitizer manufactured in state prisons by incarcerated inmates. The inmates are paid, however, it’s usually only about two dollars per day.
Anonymous sources tell Staten Islander News Service that in China, far more people were instructed to self-isolate than had been reported in world media.
The Chinese government has had a few more months to familiarize with Covid-19 than we have, and it’s essential that we learn from their response. And their errors.
One such error: Testing did not take place so quickly. Some claim it was because China did not want to interfere with Chinese New Year celebrations, and risk the Yuan surplus tourism brings. Whether that is so or not, failure to test early, or restrict travel, led to widespread infection.
The United states should certainly not take the same route and delay with precautionary measures. It’s far better to be pro-active than reactive, especially in matters of life and death.
We do not have a centralized economy like China, and the entirety of productive force cannot be stopped on orders “from the top”, as was the case in China.
So don’t expect life as normal to stop so abruptly or completely as reports suggest it had in China.
But ever so slowly, everything is grinding to a standstill. For a while anyway, each and every one of our lives will be significantly affected.
New Yorkers are fiercely independent, but we all have to abide by the new restrictions.
Large public gatherings and events are now a thing of the past. Shaking hands is also no longer happening. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
What will remain the same? When will life go back to normal? We just don’t know yet.
This calls for calm.
CUNY and SUNY have cancelled in-person classes on campus. The replacement? Online classes.
Broadway shows are being cancelled. Museums are closed.
Catholic elementary schools across the borough will be closed, beginning next Monday.
New York City Mayor de Blasio, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo, and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, have all declared a State of Emergency and a Public Health Emergency within each’s respective domain of governance.
Governor Cuomo issued an order restricting public gatherings over 500 people; Governor Murphy setting limits in his state at only 250.
Of course, mass transit hubs and hospitals are not included.
While Catholic schools are closing, NYC Public Schools remain open.
Mayor de Blasio was concerned that closing public schools might leave health care workers without anyone to care for their school-age children.
However, many feel this is a poor choice; one such voice is Staten Islander News Service contributor, Sam Pirozzolo. Read his opinion piece on the matter here.
Elective surgeries must be postponed, as hospitals prepare for the expected surge in patients, and beds will be prioritized for Covid-19-infected individuals.
If you have a relative in the hospital, be forewarned that there are new visitor restrictions in place. Call ahead of your planned visit to your loved one and inquire about details, as these may change in coming days and weeks.
There are already numerous reported cases in NYC and even some on Staten Island.
Testing has not been widely available, so the reported figures may not be representative of the actual present developing situation.
Fellow Islanders, wash your hands. If you’re feeling ill, stay home. Isolate yourself.
Avoid crowds when possible. Stock your home pantry. And, most importantly of all, stay calm.
This isn’t the end of the world, but it is a definite interruption of life as usual.
And, the threat of serious illness remains quite real, all politics aside.
However, that doesn’t mean we can’t rise to the occasion and come together as one people joined together, our efforts synergized to protect our civilization and Way of Life.
How long will it be until life returns to normal? That’s impossible to say, although the coming warmer weather may help the situation. We just don’t know.