Color Coding the Re-Opening

“This is how we re-open” the headlines proclaim and all the words that follow are a reasoned and cautious plan with steps and diagrams to show how to be safe. I’ve read multiple articles and multiple plans. In my state the recommendations are color coded: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green. Toward the end of each plan is the caveat. If you’re high risk, or live with someone high risk, then you should always operate with red-level precautions even if the rest of your community is green. That is where I see that re-opening is a mirage, mere wishful thinking. Howard is high risk because of his asthma. That means that all five people at my house have to stay at red, lives maximally paused, until things are truly safe, not “new normal” safe. That’s one young adult working reduced hours, one young adult whose life is on pause, and one teen who can’t go back to a classroom even if schools re-convene. Relaxing community restrictions forces us into hard decisions. We’re far from the only ones. Almost everyone I know is connected to a vulnerable person whom they either need to be careful for or isolate themselves from. “New normal” isn’t ahead of me somewhere. I’m in it. This is my normal until there is a vaccine.

I understand the need to loosen restrictions. I know that we need life to function with supply chains and economic flow. I know that economic collapse hurts and kills people as surely as the pandemic does. There are no easy choices here for anyone. I actually think the plans are the best that they can be under the circumstances. We have to try to navigate the gap between Scylla and Charybdis, The monster pandemic on one side and the monster economic collapse on the other. It just stings a little when I see articles saying “Yay! we get to have indoor restaurant dining back!” when every article then turns to me and says “But not for your family. You stay home.”