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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Casteel

Please Shelter in Place

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

I think our son may be the only one who's happy about the shelter in place order. Mama and Dada are both home all day. He gets to play with us whenever he wants. So many books get read to him. And admittedly a few more movies than usual as Lexi and I both have to work from home and can't always be available to watch him. Thankfully, all of Studio Ghibli is available, which was a welcome change from Frozen 2 (Why does he like the terrible sequel and not the amazing first one. I know, just let it go, Dada).

The hardest part about watching Studio Ghibli films like Totoro and Ponyo is how much they make me miss being able to go outside and hug my friends in the park. Everyone's touching all the surfaces and then hugging the sweet Grandmother figure without washing their hands before or after. This is not unique to Studio Ghibli. Nobody washes their hands enough in films. Even fictional doctors don't seem fastidious enough in the current crisis.

We've been holding it together doing video chats with his friends and his grandparents. It helps a little bit, but there's only so long a kid is interested in talking to a screen with his friend inside it. It's not the same as playing together. It's extrovert methadone. Helps calm down the shakes, but brings little of the actual joy of being together.

My biggest fear is that this shelter in place is too little too late. I still see groups of folks gathering outside on my way to get groceries. It makes me afraid that we're just going to be replaying Italy's tragedy in just a few weeks. The countries that seem to have gotten their response right did so much more, halting all travel much earlier, testing 10 times as many people as we have currently tested even though we've had more time, checking the temperature of each person entering the country, and monitoring self imposed quarantines with GPS apps. So many of these steps go against our American sense of independence that many of them are non-starters. We went from ask not what our country can do for you, but asking what you can do for your country to the Texas Lt. Governor suggesting that the elderly are willing to die to save the economy.

My business is hurting from the shelter in place rule, but I know it's the right thing to do. What irks me is that if we don't get it right, we're going to be sheltering for longer or perhaps returning to shelter in place if it is lifted too soon. Italy has already lost twice as many people to coronavirus as died in 9/11. Our case load seems to be pacing theirs from 2 weeks ago. It's a bitter pill to swallow to get this right, but we have to or we'll all be losing people we know. A colleague in my industry just shared the story of a 34 year old friend of his who died from Coronavirus. It's not just the elderly at risk. It's all of us.

All I want from the federal government right now is support to give my employees sent home by this shelter in place paid leave until they can return to work and swift and decisive action to halt the spread of the disease. The more time we waste with half measures, the more people will be killed by coronavirus and the longer that our lives will be put on hold to stop the spread. The more money we hand out in bail outs, the less there is for all the families who've lost their livelihoods during this crisis. This is the most difficult test of our country's leadership and it couldn't have come at a worse time. As Bertrand Russell put it, "Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing is so futile."

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