Right now I’m on official quarantine because a Georgia Senator came to work sick. The quarantine was the right thing to do, because now at least four other Senators are sick, and one was hospitalized in critical condition (he’s doing better now). Fortunately, my family’s fine, but I’ll admit I am worried, frustrated, and restless. And the things that normally sustain me and my family during other troubling times, like our church, our gym, or coffee with a friend, are not possible.
My husband and I have made a daily walk through our neighborhood part of our routine (keeping six feet of distance from others, of course). On these walks, I think about how the nature around us is waking up from winter, and how we, isolating ourselves in our homes, have woken up to a reality we never imagined.
So, what can we do or say to our friends and ourselves, as we face these very serious circumstances?
While COVID-19 might be new, we have faced and overcome other great challenges. People in our communities unified after September 11th. During the Cold War, children practiced duck-and-cover drills at school, and parents built fallout shelters. People marched and faced tear gas and church bombings to defeat segregation. Families grew victory gardens, shared ration coupons, and donated their scrap metal during World War II. Some of our grandparents made “Garbage Soup” with their neighbors during the Great Depression by throwing everyone’s week-old produce into one big pot with tomato soup.
It feels like we are facing all of these crises at once — a fight against an invisible enemy, economic uncertainty, and political strife.
And I think that we can stand up for what is right and make it through this catastrophe if we remind ourselves that we have all the ingenuity and bravery that we need in our own community.
We must stay home to protect our neighbors. We can appreciate the shelter above our heads, enjoy home-cooked food together, or perhaps do the spring cleaning that we have put off.
Last night, I attended an online karaoke birthday party with friends through the video conferencing service, Zoom. We sang, laughed, and shared our fears with each other. Those who have a little extra cash to spare could shop or send food to those who might be struggling financially. Those who can sew are making masks with fabric scraps.
This is our burden and our opportunity: to live up to the examples of our family and neighborhood heroes by giving up what we can, even as we acknowledge that we already are sacrificing so much.
The situation we are in is horrifying, and for many, this may be the hardest thing that we have dealt with in our lives.
But we are up to this fight. We will make it to the end of the tunnel. Take a deep, grounding breath and remind yourself that we have “the right stuff.”
Stay strong, keep hope close, stay socially distant, and stay in touch.
Here are some resources you might find helpful:
- Georgia COVID-19 Hotline: 1-844-442-2681
- Georgia Dept. of Health website: https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus
- Mental Health Crisis: Georgia Crisis & Access Line (GCAL) 1-800-715-4225
- Unemployment: As an emergency ruling this week, the Dept. of Labor Commissioner has mandated that employers file electronically partial claims on behalf of their employees whenever it is necessary to temporarily lay employees off. https://dol.georgia.gov/blog/new-information-filing-unemployment-partial-claims-and-reemployment-services
- Georgia Small Business Administration: loan application https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Declarations
- Mortgage Help: http://www.homesafegeorgia.com/mortgage-payment-assistance2
- Food Stamps (SNAP): https://dhs.georgia.gov/press-releases/2020-03-20/dhs-implements-new-office-protocols-response-covid-1
- Food Banks: The Atlanta Community Food Bank has implemented “Text for Help” to identify the three closest food pantries to you when you text “findfood” (no spaces) or “comida” (Spanish) to 888-976-2232. Texters will be prompted to give their zip code.
- Childcare Needs: Call Georgia Dept. of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) at 1-877-ALL-GA-KIDS or 1-877-255-42-5437
- Department of Drivers Services: DDS has issued a 120-day extension for drivers 60 years old and older in driver license renewals. https://dds.georgia.gov/coronavirus-covid-19
- Voting: The Presidential Primary was postposed until May 19th. It is recommended that you vote absentee ballot: https://sos.ga.gov/index.php/Elections/absentee_voting_in_georgia
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Atlanta’s local on-line edition has been made available free of charge: https://www.ajc.com/news/ajcepaper-available-everyone-during-coronavirus-turmoil/6YonT03jcXoUgvH3EIXEAJ/