Shanti Emerson: Pandemic pandemonium |

Shanti Emerson: Pandemic pandemonium

Shanti Emerson

My muse seems to have contracted COVID-19 and was bedridden for weeks before finally coming out of bed and inspiring me. I love it when readers say they enjoy my column, which has been on hiatus since March.

I wrote in my journal in the middle of March, “It’s 5 a.m., and I slowly gain consciousness. It’s still dark and cold and Monday. I have nothing to do. My calendar was always full. Meetings, lunch with friends, classes at the gym, errands, events, etc. etc. For the first time in my adult life, I have an empty calendar. Everything canceled, including doctor appointments.’

“How many crossword puzzles can I solve in a day? How many times can I read The Union? How much time should I spend watching classic TCM movies? Texting friends? It seems so odd to have a 24-hour day unplanned. Can I teach myself to crochet?”

When lockdown first began, the county seemed quiet and serene. It was a kind of Zen experience with everything so calm and gentle. It was as if Nevada County had converted to Buddhism. Banner Lava Cap had almost no vehicles for the first couple of weeks. Sitting on our front porch was a tranquil experience.

We will thrive again. Please don’t forget, we are in this together.

But as the days went on, the need for connection and action came back. Slowly there was an uptick in traffic, and now cars and trucks are roaring down the mountain as before.

I was surprised that I, who belong to many clubs and go to many events, didn’t miss them at first. Then came Zoom, a new experience. It seems the best we could do. I, an-every-Sunday church goer, was happy to reconnect with my congregation and minister, but it wasn’t the same. That special feeling of community was sadly missing. Club meetings and board of directors meetings soon followed this format. Seeing familiar faces and hearing well-known voices was good, but nothing like the real thing.

Today I sometimes forget there is a pandemic. All my stores are open and shopping center parking lots are full. I enjoy having lunch with friends on Toffanelli’s beautiful patio. However, some friends still don’t leave their houses and will come out of this pandemic in excellent health. Pals who live in Southern Cal or Houston or Mumbai are much stricter with what they do and where they go. Many do not go out nor have anyone in. They take this pandemic far more seriously as their contagion numbers increase daily.

The ugly pro- and anti-mask war shows a still deeply divided county/country. One would think that all of us would want to be as safe as possible and show respect for others by wearing masks. However, the recent outrageous behavior at the Board of Supervisors meeting and the rogue Briar Patch customer show that people feel vehemently one way or the other.

As is often the case today, scientists and statistics are not respected. When a friend asked a bank teller why other employees weren’t wearing masks, another customer became irate, went to the parking lot and keyed her car.

As if we didn’t have enough to deal with, George Floyd died a horrible death under the knee of bad cop Chauvin who had 17 complaints against him. Outrage and demonstrations, both peaceful and violent followed across our country and the world. It was a terrible shocking event. Yet much of the public went overboard negating years of equity work and progress.

I still feel the heartbreak of the cancellation of the Fair and Draft Horse Classic along with the wonderful musical weekends we have enjoyed for decades there. Let’s all support our FFA and 4-H kids in the online auction of their market animals and AG Mechanics projects Aug. 13-15.

In clubs around town, installations of new officers were canceled along with high school proms, graduation ceremonies and senior projects, so sad for the Class of 2020. Businesses are deeply hurt financially. Some will never recover. Family abuse and suicides up, and we still need to be super safe.

As sad as these things are, they are not as bad as death.

When will the pandemic be over? When an effective vaccine be discovered and manufactured, we don’t know. It is clear that we are going to have to learn to live with this pandemic as it shows no sign of letting up. According to the World Health Organization, America has more confirmed cases of COVID-19 than any other country.

In the meantime, can we be gentle and kind with each other, especially those with whom we disagree? Can we be generous and loyal to local businesses? Can we follow the safe practices Gov. Newsom and Dr. Fauchi have decreed? I read that if a person is asymptomatic with COVID-19 and doesn’t wear a mask, there is a 70% chance that he/she will spread the disease. If this same person wears a mask, there is a 1.5% that others will get it. Check out those odds.

We have lived through wars, assassinations, impeachments, a presidential resignation, 9/11, hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts, floods, depressions, recessions, boom times, fires, race riots, presidents elected without securing the popular vote, remarkable changes in the status of women, gays and blacks, etc. etc. etc. This pandemic is one of the deepest challenges this nation has ever had. We as Americans have been through so much together, and we will make it through this time of emergency, too.

We will thrive again. Please don’t forget, we are in this together. We need to keep looking for better ways to help each other.

Shanti Emerson is a Nevada County resident and a member of The Union Editorial Board. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the board or its members. She can be reached at

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