If I were to describe my life now, I would say I’m on an island. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have to be cautious when I wander in public. I look outside of my windows, and I see people walking on the streets and riding in cars. On any given day, people are using different levels of caution with masks, social distancing, exercising, shopping, and hanging out at the beach.
They make these choices because they believe they are being safe during a time that COVID-19 cases are increasing in the state.
I get it. It is difficult to stay inside and isolated, especially when it’s warm and sunny during summer. They need to go outside, take pictures, and show on social media that COVID-19 didn’t take away their freedom to enjoy vacation.
What many of them do not realize is that the more often they go out, the more they begin to bend the rules.
Each time that they leave, they might start out six feet apart then later find themselves two feet apart.
They might socially distance themselves in a group of three, and later they find their way up to a cluster of thirteen.
Their running club of four doubles into an organization of eight. That isn’t so bad until you realize not everyone bothered to jog with a mask.
Because there is a shortage of masks, people outside wear masks of varying quality. From a scarf to a homemade fabric mask to a blue surgical mask to an N95, they are equipped with different layers of protection to stay alive.
Each little gap in protection is not a big deal in itself except a multitude of them creates a higher curve in the pandemic’s trajectory.
Meanwhile, I mainly stay inside because my medical oncology nurse told me to err on the side of caution. She told me I had to compensate for all of the people who were being irresponsible. True story. She really said that when I asked her if it was safe to visit the dentist or optometrist, and she recommended that I hold off on that.
After I tell loved ones what she said, they quickly justify why they have opted to go outside instead. It’s for mental health, they said. Understandable. Now it means that their quest for mental health can mean others’ physical health is being compromised. For this reason, those who are at higher risk for being immunocompromised are forced to stay inside.
This is why I’m on an island. I’d love to go outside, but the seemingly healthy people around me feel a need to engage in careless leisure—even if it means it can isolate individuals like me further.