I can’t shake the feeling that we’re so late in responding to this crisis. I live in the Washington DC area. Up until last weekend restaurants were packed and people still complained about the media blowing it all out of proportion. People still accepted invitations to parties. They did start stocking up early though. The first things to disappear from the shelves were disinfectant wipes, bottled water and toilet paper. I understand the wipes, but water and toilet paper?
What a difference a week makes. All of a sudden, people woke up. Long lines in the supermarkets and now more things are flying off the shelves. The city is shutting down slowly but no recommendations from the local government. My gym is still open and they profess that it is sterile. Really? Disinfecting once in the morning and once more at the end of the day will do the trick? What about all these sweaty bodies touching the equipment in between?
I work at the Federal Government and up until last week we were working side by side. Now we're all working remotely.
People complain about social distancing and recommendations to stay home. Somewhere in the general anxiety and uncertainty I see a silver lining. Children seem to have some sort of immunity and families spend more time together. Here’s an opportunity to re-evaluate priorities in life and prepare for a near future that will be quite different from what we’re used to.
Finally, I hope that we’ll all take time to appreciate all those working out there who have no other choice: The supermarket employees, the healthcare providers, the trash collectors, the mass transportation operators. The list is long and those people deserve our eternal gratitude.
Elina Karmokolias is a counselor at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center.