OUR COUNTY IS OPENING UP BUT WHAT WILL I DO?
Fran Randolph with Contributions from Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin
Our County Executive decided it was time to gradually open up Montgomery County. At the time that this article is being written, we are in Phase 1. It is still restrictive and includes outdoor seating in restaurants and curbside pick-up from retail stores among others changes. Reopening requirements include many things especially keeping physical distance, wearing masks, and frequent washing of hands.
Even with all of these precautions, I still feel anxious. Why? Because my spouse and I are a part of the vulnerable age group. According to the CDC, people who are 60 years of age and older and those with certain health conditions such as heart, lung or kidney diseases, diabetes, and weakened immune systems have a greater risk of contracting the virus.
I wondered if my feelings of vulnerability were shared by others. So I asked a number of my friends how they felt about our county opening up. I was surprised to learn that most of them felt the same way I did, and some more than others.
Most of my friends have been staying home, venturing out only to take walks. Many have their groceries delivered or do curb-side pick-up. Some have taken advantage of the senior hours at the grocery stories to purchase their own groceries. A few are enjoying outdoor eating at restaurants and have re-started their home cleaning services.
Many agree that there is an economic need to do something to help people return to work. But all of them agree that their risk of contracting the virus is still too great to make too many changes to the way they have been living for the last 3 months.
It mostly seemed to boil down to the perceived risk of getting the virus vs need. As long as there were safe ways to get groceries and address other personal requirements, many did not feel the need to change. When asked when they might change, many agreed that they planned to stay home until the number of new cases in the county was substantially reduced. Others already had plans to visit the beauty salon or resume playing Mahjong with their friends. A very few were convinced that they would not leave their homes until a vaccine was available.
By the time this article is published, Montgomery County will likely be in Phase 2. However, the following recommendations are likely to remain:
- Stock up on supplies.
- Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
- When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
- Avoid crowds as much as possible.
- Avoid cruise travel and nonessential air travel.
- During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.
For more information go to: https://montgomerycountymd.gov/HHS/RightNav/Coronavirus-elders.html
Although I am tired of being stuck at home, I know that I am doing so not only for myself and my husband but for the welfare of my community. I also know that my life isn’t over. In the future, there will be opportunities to travel abroad, go to concerts, and visit family and friends over the holidays. It’s just a matter of time and safety.