Dr. Jeff Kane: Love in the time of coronavirus | TheUnion.com

Dr. Jeff Kane: Love in the time of coronavirus

As if drought, wildfires, home insurance cancellations, and power outages weren’t enough, we’re now faced with a pandemic which, if current epidemiology is accurate, may kill over a million Americans. Every day it raises personal and social issues.

I’m in an especially vulnerable category, so I’m taking the situation seriously indeed. My wife and I decided that since the best defense against viral spread is social distancing, we’d avoid crowds and skin-to-skin contacts, wash our hands frequently, and so on. Initially isolation wasn’t even much of a choice since we were snowed in anyway, and our land line and internet were kaput. It was an opportunity to leisurely take walks, read, write, and cook.

Soon we recognized its downside. Unable to know who’s carrying virus, we couldn’t hang out with anyone at all. We were missing immersion in this wonderful community, a major vitamin in our lives.

Maybe it takes a plague to help us realize that even without a pandemic we’ve gradually withdrawn from the commons during the past generation. We’ve moved into gated clusters where we barely know our neighbors. Rather than visit friends, we remove ourselves to our personal entertainment center. Texting has rendered knee-to-knee conversations as scarce as pay phones. Buying online is more convenient than physically shopping in the mercado, the agora, where friends meet.

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While social distancing certainly makes health sense now, community serves us as well.

While social distancing certainly makes health sense now, community serves us as well. And we’re good at that: Americans are world leaders in showing up and aiding at disasters. We might be cloistered these days, but we can still find ways to honor medical workers whose job is risk itself. We can leave groceries at friends’ doors. Shut-ins can phone other shut-ins to see how they’re doing. We can buy gift cards from hard-hit local stores.

We’ll naturally invent our resilience since kindness is more contagious than any virus.

Jeff Kane is a physician and writer in Nevada City.


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