The New Normal with COVID19: A Gradual Reopening-It’s not over until…

It’s been a two-month stay at home order and on May 29th, in Illinois, we are moving into phase 3… This will include openings of offices, retail stores, dental offices, manufacturing, all state parks and restaurants/bars having outdoor seating. Drive-ins are making a come-back since theaters are closed. Although, there won’t be any new movies or TV shows anytime soon (unless they were filmed last year), because Hollywood is also “closed.” Gyms can have outdoor classes or individual one-on-one lessons. Gatherings can be non-essential now with up to 10 people. It is suggested that we still use social (or physical distancing) and wear masks.

In my hometown, a few places opened up earlier than they were supposed to because their business was hurting financially. They were on the news, and no charges were pressed… The restaurant is still operating and business seems to be booming once again.

School is closed and over for the year. Seniors and junior high graduates had drive through graduations and a virtual gradation ceremony has been created and ready to air in just a few days. There also was a graduation parade. Birthdays are being celebrated with birthday parades that involve firetrucks and a line of honking cars from friends and family members. Members from my church have been singing happy birthday to its members from outdoors. They wear masks and practice social distancing… With there being a very low number of cases in my area, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of mask wearing going on inside places of businesses aside from some of the workers though. Sometimes social distancing is used…. other times it is not.

I do fear one thing – with businesses beginning their gradual openings, and people in this area not all wearing masks and not always practicing social distances, people may relax their caution and feel as if “the virus is over.” There was a saying people used often… “It’s not over until the fat lady sings.” (I often thought that wasn’t very nice)…. So I will change it up a bit and state, “It’s not over until there is a vaccination or successful treatment.”

Our area may have had very few cases so far, but we are also not far away from local towns that do have numbers. One county nearby has almost 550 cases. Then another county close to us has 100 cases. Not to mention, summer will be here next month, and that means tourist season. It may not be as busy as it has in the past, but there will still be visitors from other towns, not to mention other states. I don’t think we should let our guards down just yet. With businesses beginning to open with restrictions in place and restaurants opening their doors, there will be exposure in various places. Now given that many of these people have been under a stay at home order, as they get out and begin to see other friends or family, that could raise potential for new cases… As positive as I would like to remain, “We are not out of the clear just yet….” AND there is no vaccine or declared successful treatment. And cases are still rising in nearby areas. We must continue to be cautious- especially the elderly, immune compromised and those with underlying health conditions (I fall into that group).

I know, that it will be quite some time, before I feel comfortable around being around many people, eating at a restaurant or spending very much time in a store. In fact, I have not been inside a store for almost three months. I have ordered everything online or gotten it through curbside delivery. I definitely will not be eating with groups of people or in a restaurant probably not until there is some type of vaccine…

My birthday is also coming up at the end of June. (June 28th). There is one bookstore that will be opening up in a nearby small city. It is very large and is never very busy. There is plenty of room to practice social distancing. All I want for my birthday is to get a nice take-out dinner somewhere and go to that bookstore (of course, I will wear a mask and stay away from people). While I want to look at books, I have to be honest and say that I will be a bit nervous about it. I feel like the longer I keep from entering different places, the more anxiety I may develop about being inside them… But I am just being cautious. The only place I feel safe from this virus is at home, but I also do not want to stay holed up at home for the rest of the year… Or even into next year. I have spent the majority of my spring at home aside from being at work a couple mornings a week, riding in the car, being outside or going to my chiropractor. Being diabetic and having asthma, I do have to be a little more cautious. My social circle will continue to remain small and I will only do “drive-way” visits outdoors with a couple other close friends and family members for now…

This “new normal” has been very difficult. It hasn’t been easy, but I keep reminding myself, I am doing it to protect my health and the health of others. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss going to church on Sundays… I miss the old times of eating at a restaurant or just being spontaneous. …. Now, I must think about the potential threat of any new activity I might do, or where I might go. I’ve even decided to put together my own “toiletries” bag to carry with me to make sure my hands are clean and everything else is germ free…. The only other thing I want to do while the weather is nice, is to go for a hike…

For now, I will live simply and continue on with writing & art projects…. I have been taking each day , one day at a time, because things change so much…. And by the time this virus is over – I really don’t know what our world will look like. Will people change their ways? Will we become more self conscious? More hygienic? ….More aware of others? I do hope people become more compassionate…. That would be nice to see.

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