Welcome to a series where a baby boomer and a millennial debate (and sometimes agree on) the issues that matter to you.
On social distancing and anxiety
Last Wednesday, I told my mom that I would be coming down to Sarasota that weekend to get my car fixed and to, just maybe, partake in our favorite activity: shopping.
When I made that call, shopping in a public place felt like a reasonable activity for the weekend. But by the time Saturday rolled around, I panicked. The idea of a mall filled me with anxiety. So many people in one confined space, touching clothing racks and talking to each other: there were so many surfaces and air pockets I simply could not control. My mom, fearing a time when all the stores would be closed, wanted to go now before it was too late. But I just couldn’t.
The fact is, if you’re not moved to social distance by sheer anxiety and fear of coronavirus, do it for the betterment of society. We are being told to social distance to protect the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. And while that is very true and an important point, we must also social distance to protect ourselves.
Whether you’re young or old, the numbers are clear: both groups are dying from the coronavirus. A chart from Vox based on the virus’ spread in China shows the fatality rate was .09 percent for those ages 20-29 diagnosed with the coronavirus in Hubei, China. A New York Times story chronicled the experiences of two Chinese women, both 29, who were medical professionals in the peak of the outbreak in Wuhan. Both came down with severe and critical symptoms from the coronavirus. One recovered. One did not.
So when I see pictures of Clearwater Beach filled to the brim with people, despite all the warnings, it is hard not to be frustrated. The numbers tell a story, and it is not a positive one. We are all at risk. So stay in, hole up with movies and books and call the people on your list. It’s better for all of us.
-Elizabeth Djinis, editorial writer
On social distancing and loneliness
You can take someone’s temperature with a thermometer, but how do you measure loneliness?
For the sake of our individual and collective health, we are keeping our distance from each other. That is the smart call, and it may help slow down the advance of this damnable virus while we figure out how dangerous it is and how we might defeat it.
The older you are, it seems, the more deadly the bug may be. So for those of a certain age, it makes sense especially to avoid human contact. Our grandchildren could be little vectors, and God forbid we take them to visit our own parents.
On Sunday, an essay by my colleague Leonora LaPeter Anton made my heart hurt. She has stopped her daily visits to her 93-year-old father in a nursing home because she might bring the disease to him. Can she resume her visits while he is still with us? If her father got to choose, would he make the same choice for himself?
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Extrapolate from one family to all the human encounters we are avoiding: our friends at work, the fellow patrons at a lively bar or restaurant, the crowd cheering for our team at the ball park. There is no way to calculate the costs of our separation from each other, but that does not mean they are trivial.
In the face of this new peril, I am grateful to the experts who are working heroically to keep us safe. But I hope some of them also will consider this: isolation is no tonic for the human spirit. May this crisis pass quickly, so Leonora’s dad can enjoy the company of his wonderful daughter.
-Paul Tash, Times chairman and CEO