I guess I needed some epic event like COVID-19 to kick me in the butt and break my Writer’s Block! I haven’t written a post in nearly a year!

I made two trips this past year and for some reason, developed Writer’s Block. The only thing I’ve been doing on my site lately is visit it several times a day to delete the spam that keeps invading it.

Initially, when the news broke about COVID-19, I considered it much like when we had the NOROVIRUS outbreaks on cruise ships and other tightly populated areas, but when I read what it was about, I became concerned! This isn’t a situation to be taken lightly at all!

Apparently, other folks kind of went off the rails about it, too, because people were going out and buying up toilet paper of all things! Then, I realized it is a common reaction when folks feel out of control; it provides a small modicum of control when they do that.

Ration limits on certain grocery items were set, as a result.

Of course, the usual scams are born out of this pandemic. As folks are being tested and waiting their results, scammers are using the phone system to try to rob folks of their hard earned money by calling and leaving recorded messages that the test results are ready but to have a credit card ready to process the purchase of the test, or something similar to that. REMEMBER PEOPLE, if someone asks for your credit card over the phone, IT IS A SCAM!

There other folks who hoard supplies in hopes of scalping people in a effort to make a few big bucks fast. One guy had hundreds of thousands of hand sanitizer he was trying to sell at several times the retail price. He was caught. Another person did same thing with toilet paper. They were caught, too, but how many more are out there taking advantage of other people during this time of need? Just BE AWARE and BEWARE!

Still, there are the other mentally sick folks who think it’s funny to go into stores to cough and sneeze all over the goods. It is mean, senseless and a waste of goods!

In the meantime, in other parts of the nation, the Spring Break crowd seems to feel they are invisible to the virus and insisted on gathering in huge groups at the beach, literally thumbing their noses at social distancing. The same thing happened at Mardi Gras! That resulted in many sick young people!

I guess partying is more important than protecting public health!

Our Governor for the state of Washington initially issued a “stay at home” advisory and I observed the streets going from fairly congested in our little town of Oak Harbor, WA, to it looking something like the traffic I see on early Sunday mornings; sparse! As more is being learned about this pandemic, more guidelines are being issued.

The guards at the gates to the Navy bases will not touch our ID cards. As each driver pulls up to the gate, they have to show the photo side of their ID and then flip the card over so the guard can scan the bar-code on the back. Screening procedures went up at banks, hospitals and clinics. Many grocery stores have modified their hours to accommodate extra cleaning procedures and to stock critical supplies. Some have instituted special hours on certain days for senior citizens and those folks who are vulnerable to the virus, such as pregnant woman and those with compromised immune systems. Still other stores have put up Plexiglas screens at their cashier stations.

The media is doing its best to exploit the situation for ratings by dramatizing every little nuance of the pandemic. It is all over the place! Tickers run constantly along the bottoms of TV programs as you watch and articles about COVID-19 has saturated social media!

As the CDC and World Health Organization continues to produce more stricter guidelines, screening procedures have intensified at healthcare facilities with drive through screening mazes performing triage to determine who can enter, who needs immediate attention and how, AND who needs testing. It’s impressive!

Many business are now closed. Bars, restaurants and small shops that aren’t considered essential, are closed. Only those restaurants that can provide curb-side, drive-up and delivery services can remain open, but that could change anytime. Banks, grocery stores, hardware stores, factories and healthcare facilities all remain open because they are deemed essential services. Of course, law enforcement and emergency services remain in place.

Our little town paper is now going to have to combine its business with its south-island sister business because their advertisers and other supporting businesses have dropped off. Many businesses have permanently closed.

The Commissary on our little Seaplane base is limiting the number of customers who are inside to 50 people. As one cart comes out, another patron is allowed inside after showing their ID. The carts are wiped down and a sanitizer wipe is issued to each patron. At our Navy Exchange, there are lines on the floor where patrons must stand to give proper distance between them and other patrons in line.

These changes have occurred so quickly and are remarkable!

On the flip side of the proverbial coin, many people are stepping up and doing wonderful things to help in this crisis. Some of the very wealthy are donating their money to help with critical supplies like masks and sanitizing products. Since travel is at a near stand-still and vehicle production has slowed, major auto companies are stepping up to produce masks, too! Huge cruise ships are offering their vessels up as hospital ships since they are docked for the time being.

Popular musicians and other entertainment organizations, including orchestras are providing free entertainment via the internet for now. The MET in New York is providing free opera. Even Xfinity is providing certain cable services for free.

At midnight on March 25th, Governor Insley initiated a full-on Stay At Home order. It’s not a recommendation but an actual order for us to stay put for at least two weeks. We are only supposed to go to get groceries and medications.

Surely, Cabin Fever will set in.

I have noticed while out on my usual power walks, that more folks are out walking, too! We are maintaining our social distances. I noticed people are being more kind, smiling and greeting others as they pass by.

For the most part, I sense a pulling together! Social media now has an important roll in providing connection between family, friends and neighbors while we all stay socially distant from each other.

What does this all mean? Where are we going from here? What does the future hold?

Nobody really knows, but what I do see is that this is an opportunity for all of us to seriously step back and take stock of what is REALLY important in our lives!

It is a time to come together to support each other – albeit distantly – and to keep an eye on each other. This is not a time for us to judge or find blame. It is an opportunity to make a negative situation into something beautiful and positive.

For certain, we should be perpetually grateful to all of those people who remain out of the front lines of this pandemic, providing us with essential services. Thank them at every opportunity instead of criticizing and complaining. They are risking their health to provide us with what WE NEED.

Those folks are the health care workers, emergency services workers, law enforcement, grocery store and pharmacy employees, mail carriers, bank employees, delivery workers, farmers, sanitary workers, factory workers, utility folks, civil service employees and the military, to name a few.

These folks are out there every day, in harm’s way, to provide what we all depend on. They’ve all had to quickly adjust to some very big changes to how they go about their work. Thank them when you see them.

Society has become very hedonistic and selfish. It seems like everyone has been motivated only by their own personal agendas, spurred on by so much negative media, ugly politics, judgmental social media and by having technology so conveniently at our finger tips. Everything has just become so disposable. Disposable phones when they go out of date, disposable relationships on social media (if you don’t like something someone else posted that was your friend, you unfriend them). All such petty behavior!

America has been in crisis many times before. This is nothing new. It’s just yet another, different crisis. We’ve faced many wars and global issues and we’ve always been able to pull together and bounce back!

We can do that again!

We just need to refocus our priorities, drop the negative attitude and get real!

After all, it’s not about me, you or anyone else! This is our world and what’s going on isn’t just happening to us here in town or in the United States; it’s GLOBAL!

So, let’s just cut the crap and be good to each other.

Smile as you pass folks while out and about. Even at a distance, they can see that smile.

Be kind and extra patient. Be sensitive to others.

Thank those people who are working out on the front lines of this pandemic as often as you can.

Look out for your family, neighbors and friends by staying in touch. We certainly have the technology at our fingertips for that. As things slow down because we all have to stay put, we now have plenty of time to do that. Use it.

This is an opportunity to get creative and think outside the box. Use common sense and logic when dealing with this. The worst thing you can do is panic. I know that the letters in the word “panic” are also in the word “pandemic” but we don’t have to go there.

Be good to yourselves and those you encounter. There is no room for negativity at this time.

This, too, shall pass!

Remember, it IS all relative and ya gotta be real!



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