BY DALY WALKER, MD – As Boca Grande waits to see what the Coronavirus is going to do next, it is eerie, almost apocalyptical. It is frightening.
But overall, the Island residents’ response has been heartening. Some shop owners have voluntarily closed their businesses. Organizations have cancelled programs. Churches have suspended worship services. Restaurants help to feed us with take-out.The grocery store is doing its best to protect its customer. The clinic staff, at significant risk to their own health, continues to care for patients with urgent needs. Residents are restricting their activities and practicing social distancing. Kudos to all of you.
However, while most Island inhabitants are doing their part to protect themselves and others against the virus, many are not. Teenagers patrol the streets in golf carts and gather in groups to enjoy their ice cream cones. Older people cluster on benches to eat their box lunches. On the sandbar, an armada of pleasure boats anchor thoughtlessly side by side.
Individuals defy the county mandate and climb over barricades to walk the beach. It is time for those who are ignoring public health guidelines to join in the battle against the COVID-19 virus that threatens us all.
For those who are complying with the social distancing mandate, there is a drawback. As is true of all therapeutic and preventive medical measures, social distancing has some side effects. The by-product of being separated from one another is loneliness. As the virus forces us to distance ourselves from our friends and neighbors, we miss the ability to spend time with them and the feeling of trust and affection it brings. Life seems emptier.
So is there an antidote for the loneliness isolation causes? The answer is, yes. Simply continue to interact with people by whatever safe means are available. Reach out to others anyway you can. Call a friend on the phone. Asking them how they are doing can inoculate them against anxiety and make them feel good.
Another way to ameliorate the effect of loneliness is to remember the greater purpose you are serving by participating in the battle against COVID-19 virus. As the astronaut, Peggy Whitson, who spent nearly two years isolated in a space station said, “By social distancing and quarantining people we are saving lives.”
So stay at home, walk six feet apart, and tell your children and grandchildren to consider their elders who are at risk and keep off the streets. In doing so you may save someone’s life, maybe your own.