I have friends who are still recovering from anxiety and fear of loss from the Camp Fire; a wild fire that burned down my hometown of Paradise. Now, they are dealing with another crisis, a virus named Covid-19.
On March 19, our governor made a stay home order, meaning, we can only go out of our homes for essential things like groceries, medicine and medical appointments. When we go out of homes to do these things, we need to stay at least 6 feet apart from other people. I live in Chico and all movie theaters, the mall and many other stores are closed. Restaurants have only drive-thru or take available. Some communities have even closed off parks. Churches have also had to change how we meet and gather together. They now have online services that are live on Facebook, Zoom and You Tube.
Worse of all, nearly all of us are without work or a day program to go. Some of my peers live in retirement/nursing homes. To keep their residents safe, they made stricter rules that do not allow any outside guests.
For everyone with children, there is the added stress of school being closed. Parents now have the added job of being teachers to their children. Lessons now take place in the home. Thankfully, many counties have free meal programs for children 18 and younger. This is a drive by where parents come to the schools and pick up meals for their children. Some schools even will drop off the meals closest bus stop to their homes.
In order to help people who are overwhelmed with the anxiety and fear from this crisis, many counties are offering free counseling.
Creativity is helping us all think outside the box. I know of co-workers who are connecting on Facebook chat pages. Musicians are putting on online concerts for people to enjoy. Friends are making their own hand washing video that uses their own song instead of the “Happy Birthday” song. Another friend found that she had more time to catch up with all the small projects around the house. She even started labeling her children’s dresser drawers to be better organized.
Another friend watches videos on Facebook and You Tube. Some are of our friends are dancing and sharing their talents to bring us joy at a time when there is so much worry and sadness. Coloring books and creating art and working in a garden are other positive ways to spend time. Taking a walk is a way to feel better.
You Tube has helped my peers connect with their program and their instructors in new ways. We have had classes in drawing, music, and cooking. My favorite is learning about farm animals like pigs and sheep! There are videos in all sorts of different things including dance, art and creative writing. If you want to check out our channel search for Mains’l 7th street on You Tube. Another one of my programs is going to use conference calling as a way to bring us all together at a time that we are all being kept apart.
Which brings me to my next point, the phone is a wonderful way to keep people connected with one another. I have even started reading with my sister over the phone (something that we would normally do in person.) Service Coordinators, ILS and others have also been able to use phone visits in place of personal visits. I have friends who are able to use the phone to connect with each other and with their family. People are using all kinds of technology including texting, messenger, Zoom and Facebook chat to keep connected.
If you need more information on Covid-19 you can call 530-552-3050 or text your zip code to 898211. You can also contact your service coordinator. Another helpful number for information in your area is found by calling 2-1-1. This number can help you reach out to people and companies who can help you. It’s important to get accurate and up-to-date information in your area to stay safe.
Most important, make sure that you are all following the basic 5 rules of protection. They are:
1) Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue or elbow.
2) Space, make sure that you keep at least 6 feet away from others (especially if they are coughing.)
3) Home, stay home as much as you can. It’s ok to go out to get your mail, or do important shopping and go to important medical appointments but be very careful, especially in large crowds.
4) Wash Hands Washing hands is the best way to prevent yourself from getting sick and to not pass on germs to others.
5) Face Don’t touch your face with unwashed hands. Doing these 5 simple things will go a long way to helping you feel calm and prepared knowing you are doing your part to stop this virus in it’s tracks.
It’s important to stay safe, but it’s important to have hope in tough times like these. One thing that I learned from the Camp Fire is that when troubles affect us all, the sense of community and togetherness grows stronger. We all are in this together, and together, we can rise above feelings of being alone, confusion and fear and replace them with connection, faith and hope.