This morning I was reading online news stories and of course catching up on social media. There have been grass fires in the area in which I live. I can smell smoke when I go outside. High wind (20-30mph with 40mph gusts), pastures not green yet, and it’s really dry. All normal for this time of year. This morning it was difficult to swim through the virus panic to find the stories and posts pertaining to local fires. After finally finding and reading the updates from local community fire departments as well as local people, I started reading today’s virus panic stories. I am not trying to make light of the COVID-19 virus. I am trying to make sense out of how completely out of touch older people with grown children and people without kids are with the world of kids, school, and parenting.
Many schools around the world are closed right now due to the COVID-19 virus. Several have now closed in the United States supposedly for a couple of weeks or a day or two to disinfect. From a parental standpoint, a day or two can be managed and is preferable to sending a child into an infected environment. Several weeks is a whole different ballgame. I am not saying we shouldn’t close schools. I am saying the comments and attitudes of many people are completely out of touch. I read comment after comment from people saying parents should be thankful they get to spend time at home with their children. OK. Who is working and paying the bills? It’s not 1950. Most households need both parents working in order to pay for their kids. Kids are expensive. Why are these comments almost always made by the religious right by older people and people with no kids? Because they are uninformed. You can be as religious as you like, but kids are expensive. Most of us can’t just take a week or two off work and still pay our bills.
I came to an epiphany of sorts while reading online this morning. People are as panicked if not more panicked about being placed under quarantine for an extended period of time than they are about actually contracting the COVID-19 virus. If you have 4 kids at home and maybe quarintined for 2-4 weeks, how much toilet paper do you need? A lot. You need a lot of toilet paper for 4 kids and 2 adults for up to 4 weeks. Kids use tons of toilet paper. You need a lot of food if even one of those kids is a teenager. Who is paying your bills and how? Most households with children do not have a month’s salary laid back. This is our real panic. Yes, the virus is scary. The financial devastation is more scary to most people in the US. This is the real source of panic. No one wants the virus or wants to pass on the virus. Regardless of whether or not you or your family contracts the virus, you may live in an area that gets quarantined.
If the government or media really wants to squash panic, some assurances that utilities etc cannot be disconnected during or immediately after a quarantine would go a long ways. Assurances that basic things like mortgage foreclosures and vehicle repossessions are not allowed during or immediately after a quarantine would go a long ways. Assurances that medical bills can be paid over a period of years if necessary would go a long ways. We need some basic safety nets in place aside from just the slowing down or stopping the spread of a virus. This virus is a threat to businesses and livlihoods not just health.