Tag: COVID Symposium

COVID Symposium: At What Cost? A Quality of Life Discussion


In my work world, I work with families who are caring for loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s and similar dementias.  Also in my work world and in my personal life, I am connected with persons with intellectual disabilities including my twin sister and a Sunday School class I teach for adults with special needs.  In my charity life, I am on the executive board of a local non-profit that serves children and adults with special needs, including managing multiple group homes for the adults and providing life skills and therapies at our facility for the adults and children we serve.  Finally, I have a grandmother, Memaw, that is 89 and lives in an independent retirement community.  Let me relay some of the results of the COVID lockdown:

  •  I sat with a client yesterday who was in tears that she has not been able to see her mom with dementia for 10 weeks who lives in a secured dementia care unit.  The staff has helped her Facetime, but mom doesn’t understand or recognize her daughter on the iPad.  The facility is required to keep masks on the residents if they are out of their room for any reason.  The masks are distressing for the residents and the staff is on edge that a health inspector could walk in and find a dementia resident having pulled off their mask and be cited for a violation.   Other clients have reported that, once they have been able to visit their loved one in-person, Mom or Dad no longer knows who they are.  These families feel like the remaining precious moments they may have had with their family members have been stolen.  Other clients have reported that their more cogent family members beg them to come to see them, but they don’t understand the restrictions and what is going on in the outside world with the virus and the facility residents are crying on the phone asking why the family has abandoned them.
  • My twin sister lives at a group home.   The adults have not been allowed to leave their homes since the second week of March.  No life skills classes at the center, no trips to the park, no outside entertainment brought in. We have done our best to bring in arts and crafts, games, send care packages, etc, but the residents are bored and also have limited capacity to understand the situation.  I had planned a trip in March (prior to COVID) for my sister to come to visit with me for a few days – on the day she was supposed to come, the state went on lockdown.  My sister was prohibited from coming because the trip would cross state lines and she would lose her spot in her home if she left.  When the trip was canceled, she cried herself hoarse and didn’t understand. Now, we talk on the phone about “when this mess is over” she will come and visit again.  But she loves her calendar and I can’t even give her a date to look forward to because the state has not lifted the quarantine for group homes.
  • My non-profit has not been able to deliver PT, OT or Speech Therapy in person to our children.  We can now do teletherapy with iPads, but it is not the same.  Also, the state Medicaid program wants us to do welfare-checks on our child clients at their homes (the whole potential increase in abuse because everyone is at home fear), but our employees were citing the county stay-at-home order as a basis to not come to work and further, didn’t want to enter other people’s homes due to virus fears.  We were recently allowed to re-open our campus on a limited basis, but only 1/3 of our clients indicate an intent to return in the short term and several employees are flush with stimulus checks and hefty unemployment compensation from our closure and have indicated that they will not be returning to work in the short term either.  This means hiring new employees and absorbing the cost of “on-boarding” them with CPR training, behavior training for our clients, drug testing, etc.  We have intense regulations on staff ratios and training, that, if we can’t meet, we can’t re-open.  Also, to re-open, we have to have additional cleaning teams that are constantly on the move in our campus facility throughout the day.  We anticipate that this requirement will necessitate the hiring of 6 additional staff, but, there is no increase in funding from the State to pay for the additional staff to meet the state requirements. Most of our programs lose money as we already deliver higher quality services than what the State will pay for.  The few programs that eke out a profit help us plug the funding gap for our other programs.  COVID, and the inability for us to deliver services and therefore charge for them, has blown a huge hole in our funding, even taking into account the PPP program.  Just like businesses, I anticipate the closure of a number of non-profits.  The closure of such programs just creates another deficiency in the quality of life for populations in our communities in need of services.
  • My Sunday School class of four people has not met since March. Two of my students live in a group home which is locked down anyway and of course, the church has been closed for services.   This removes another community “touch” that these adults have to be engaged with others.
  • My grandmother has been quarantined in her suite at independent living since March.  She used to walk the halls and in the gardens, but that has been prohibited during the quarantine.  She is frailer and certainly weaker than she was at the start of this.   She is terribly lonesome without the activities she was able to participate in (bean bag baseball slugger!) and on-site visitors.

I recognize that many of these populations described here are likely truly high-risk, even if the virus is less virulent than first thought.  My heart breaks for all the missed interactions as well as the degeneration in capacities and abilities that have occurred in these last weeks, some of which may never be recovered.  Some of it can’t be helped I guess, but I wonder at what cost?

COVID Symposium: My Unexciting COVID Experience


Since everyone else is telling their Covid experiences, I guess it is time to tell mine.  Some of it I discussed in my Quote of the Day post “Problems.”

I worked for a major airline as a technical writer as a contract employee. I like being a contractor; it allows me to avoid most of the politically correct training foisted on direct-hire employees. It pays well enough and my health insurance comes through my primary employer: me. I do not have to worry about losing my health insurance or paying COBRA if I lose my job. The downside is when the company you are contracting with hits financial trouble contract employees are the first ones let go.

COVID-19 Symposium: An (Im)movable Feast


I won’t pretend that I have a singularly unique quarantine story, or even one anywhere near the hardest. Life could be much, much worse and I am supremely grateful, above all else, that I got a choice in how this happened. When my university decided to move online, a few days after Yale and Columbia began demanding that their exchange students return and we had the first two confirmed coronavirus cases on our campus, my parents began making plans for me to come home before it became impossible. I said no. There were still exams I had to sit in May, I said, and there was no way I was going to be able to study with everyone home, or take my last three weeks of classes over Zoom with our unstable internet connection. One of my classes had yet to go online, and I didn’t want to leave and miss a tutorial. Flight prices were going to skyrocket. And these were all true enough, especially the excuse about exams, but I stayed mostly to keep my family safe. 

This was the first winter and spring in all I could remember that my dad hadn’t caught pneumonia, hadn’t ended up with an inhaler or at the ER, struggling to breathe. So I, who had almost definitely been exposed to the virus on campus, and if not there in our university’s city at large, was going to make a long train trip and go through two airports, one that had been host to thousands of Americans on the continent from heavily infected countries escaping while they still had time, to come home? To potentially kill or do irreparable harm someone I loved? Hell. No. 

Ricochet COVID Symposium: “Essential” in the Ghost World


An empty mall parking lot

My business is essential, at least according to DoD guidelines – our customers build the trucks your cable, power, cell phone, and sundry other utility and delivery companies use to make staying at home a bit less awful. In many respects you could say this shutdown passed us by: you cannot do manufacturing at home, engineers are next to useless after a few weeks if they lack for hardware to test, while everyone else has been needed to answer the phones, place orders, receive goods, and ship. We only had 2 people working from home during the entirety of the shutdown, and 1 person on reduced hours because daycares were basically shut. But our industrial park was otherwise a ghost town tucked behind a ghostly strip mall, with ghostly commuters on drives to work and home again.

My Immune Response


The idea of vaccination is to present the immune system with a mild challenge, something that resembles a dangerous pathogen but isn’t one, and thereby stimulate an adaptive response that leaves the immune system better able to handle the real pathogen, if and when it ever arrives. We don’t yet have a COVID-19 vaccine. But for me, there is a metaphorical sense in which COVID-19 is a vaccine.

I am a creature of habit. I cling to my routines and rituals, finding comfort in the familiar. But at the same time, I crave change, I thrive on new and different experiences, and I derive satisfaction from learning things. And so there is a constant tension in my life, as my preference for the comfortable and familiar leaves me feeling bored and stuck in a rut.

Ricochet COVID Symposium: The Solution is Out My Front Window


OK, this is going to be shorter than you might expect. I am an alcoholic, I have been clean for a year. I got a temporary lay off a month back, and it is looking permanent. The thing for everyone who lost a job during these times is that I have no idea where my next check is coming from, I have nothing to do, I am useless. I don’t see a way out, but there is a booze store that I can see from my front window. It is hard to not take the option. I also for fun get to take care of my schizophrenic brother. Stress and boredom is a hard hill to climb when you can’t see the summit.

I can’t go to meetings because they are closed. I can’t see my counselor; that is also closed. In both cases, I can do phone or internet options, but it’s not really the same. The temporary solution to all my problems is, again, visible from my window.

COVID-19 Symposium: New Normal Same as the Old Normal


Don’t get me wrong. Some things are different in the lives of the Chauvinists. What hasn’t changed is living in a prolonged state of medical crisis and the isolation that comes from it. We sort of feel like we’ve been in training for COVID since 2013. Oorah! Too bad for the rest of you.

Many of you have heard our saga before, so I’ll give the abbreviated version. Since late 2013 when Little Miss Anthrope was diagnosed with a congenital neurological condition (NF Type 1) at age 11 and resultant brain tumor (bad), she underwent 20 hours of brain surgery in four days with complications (worse), and then contracted meningitis two weeks later (devastating). She had a remission for about a year and then a recurrence requiring a year of chemotherapy treatment, which was marginally successful at keeping the tumor stable. Last summer she had a second recurrence and has been undergoing oral chemotherapy using a new drug which has shown the first success at shrinking the tumor since surgical resection, but the side effects are tough. We know tradeoffs better than most.

The coverage surrounding COVID-19 is mostly pundits, politicians, and policy wonks yelling at each other. If you want to end the lockdown, they say you want old people to die. If you want to extend the lockdown, they say you want to destroy the economy. This leaves out the rest of us: that vast majority of everyday people who want to protect our physical health along with our economic health. Teachers, nurses, small business owners, and parents from coast to coast are being ignored. And we want to give all of you a voice.

In this symposium hosted by Bethany Mandel and Jon Gabriel we hear from Ricochet members across the country (and even in South Korea!) about how their lives have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We hear from an Oklahoman living in South Korea, a pet store worker in Minnesota, a soon to be retired aerospace employee in Washington State, and we listen to stories from Georgia, Maryland, Louisiana, Arizona, and New Hampshire.

Ricochet COVID Symposium: A Veteran’s Organization Responds


My local Veterans of Foreign Wars post had been slowly but steadily getting its legs under itself after a few years of hard times. There were several years of younger generation leaders stepping up and the finances were looking solid. Of course, we had a century old building, but it was long ago paid for, owned outright by the local post incorporated for many years. The post had been instrumental in keeping the local Veterans’ Day parade alive and fresh, and was adding new events, like an Armed Forces Appreciation Day street festival on Armed Forces Day. Then COVID-19 lock down orders from the Arizona governor created a new set of challenges. The good news is that we were both in a fortunate posture and had a membership that would not quit.

The fortunate posture was a combination of years of careful stewardship and members’ dedication to get the post financially stable, along with a generous gift from an estate, motivated by the good work the post had been seen doing in the community. With that small financial cushion, we turned the state lock down of bars into a massive renovation effort in our canteen, the veterans’ organization term for an American Legion or VFW post’s watering hole. Since it holds a liquor license from the state, it is naturally subject to all relevant state regulations, including the order to close down for public safety.

It’s All Clear as Mud


Since the day we learned about this virus, the information that has gone out about it has been, at best, clear as mud. I understood, and still do, that we were dealing with something new, so I wasn’t too upset about it at first and did what I was told like a good little citizen. Then I went to eye-rolling at some point. But now I have resolved to feeling just plain mad if I think too hard about it.

Mad because of the unintended consequences of so many lives ruined and upended by just a small percentage of people in power who have decided how the rest of us should live. Mad because of the theatrics played out by our government and media, the fear and panic they’ve induced, and terrible mistakes they’ve (knowingly?) made. Mad because of how divided we seem to be. Mad for personal reasons: my kid losing a job; other kids abruptly moving back home to finish college online (did you know you can’t take a cadaver lab at home?); my husband working from home, getting a pay cut, having to take forced furlough weeks, and a freeze on bonuses. Please don’t “at least he still has a job” me. Believe me, I know we are still among the fortunate ones. Truly though, I’m mostly mad because of what this seems to have done to make the healthcare system practically collapse on itself, especially in the area of preventive medicine.

Ricochet COVID Symposium: Please Contribute!


Over the last week, we’ve heard from Americans just like you. Americans struggling amid the COVID lockdowns. We heard from an “essential worker” who never signed up for what she’s now left to do, we heard from a mother struggling with her six kids suddenly at home for an indefinite amount of time, we heard from an immigrant mother who ran a successful residential cleaning business until this spring.

We’ve heard from so many Americans, but we want to hear from you too!

A Ricochet Confession


How long has it been since I last checked into Ricochet? A month…six weeks? I know I’ll find an answer as soon as I check my notifications; the reality is that it has been (in scientific terms) “quite a while”. Why is that?

Simple: I’m pretty much sick of living my life on-line, of being on the receiving side of a computer screen. As such, the prospect of voluntarily stepping into another digital platform lost all attraction.

Member Post


In-town of a mid-size city, Tulsa, OK…. the virus is here but not in an overwhelming way. But for a retired guy like me it’s much less disruptive than for those with restaurant and retail jobs. We have reached a point where opening up seems past due. I hope that local businesses can recover. The […]

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Member Post


The whole COVID-19 experience has had effects big and small. Some aspects of it have been a challenge; emotionally more so than just materially. Although I feel that I’ve coped well, the effects still hit home. I have heard people complaining about entertainment venues and restaurants being closed. Logically you would think that this shouldn’t […]

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This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Ricochet COVID Symposium: Housecleaning Business In Freefall


[Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of contributions from our members and friends about the hidden costs of the COVID crisis. You can read more about our symposium and how to contribute here. The following is a submission by the woman whose crew cleaned our Editor Bethany Mandel’s house before she moved in in April.]

COVID-19 has been a disaster not only for my personal life but also for my business. When I first started to hear about the pandemic on the news I did not imagine that it would have such a negative effect on our economy, health, and personal relationships.

Ricochet COVID Symposium: An ‘Essential’-Eyed View



“Migrant Mother” by Dorothea Lange.

I’m an hourly worker at a neighborhood pet supplies store. I never considered myself an “essential” worker. That was a term I used to refer to my paternal grandfather who, as a railroad engineer during World War II, was prohibited from joining the military. March 25 was the day Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced a statewide “stay-at-home” order. It was the day I learned I was an “essential worker” in COVID America.

In the days after the initial lockdown order, the chaos was almost overwhelming. What the run on toilet paper was to the grocery stores, dog and cat food was to my store. People were panic buying cartloads of food. Bags were gone as fast as they were stocked. The initial emergency state proclamation was for two weeks. For the most part, people were understanding, but nervous. Two weeks was do-able. Inundated with news reports about the dire situation in New York City was enough to sacrifice daily routines and a paycheck or two to prevent a similar catastrophe here. But then…we weren’t another New York City. Minnesotans held their breath, pensively, for another two-week extension. Thankfully the projected 75,000 deaths never materialized. But still, the call for sacrifice rang loud and clear.