Social Distancing: Hang in There, Atlanta, It's Working
It's been almost a month since Atlanta first called on residents to stay home except in essential situations, and many of us are missing simple luxuries like a meal out with friends, going to the gym, traveling to our offices rather than working from home all day. Governor Kemp told us yesterday he plans to start re-opening Georgia so people can get back to their work and back to their lives. Are the days of social isolation almost over?
No, and that's probably for the best.
Though it's tempting to start making plans that include others, is this safe? April 20th saw the highest number of
fatalities in one day since the coronavirus reached Georgia. The virus is still infecting people and, with its long recovery period, healthcare providers would be busy for a while yet even if transmission of the coronavirus stopped completely.
We know it's hard to stay confined to your home, especially for those who are out of work right now. However, we have also seen illness surge in other countries that relaxed lockdown and social distancing measures too soon. The sacrifices we have made so far to flatten the curve and keep hospitals from being overwhelmed could be counteracted by a push to return to "life as normal." A slow reopening can help Georgia officials spot potential risks before infections spike to devastating levels a second time.
Atlanta's Rules Are Still in Place
Under the guidance of Mayor Bottoms, Atlanta shuttered stores and cleared the streets before the rest of Georgia, and our stay at home order is still in effect. What Governor Kemp is suggesting for other Georgia communities may not be right for a bustling city like Atlanta.
There is hope for a potential reprieve, however. As Governor Kemp announced his plan, Mayor Bottoms created an advisory council with multiple stakeholders to choose the best path forward for our city.
Balancing our economic needs with the safety of our most vulnerable citizens is the only way to have a
successful-and lasting-re-opening. We can expect a plan to be completed no later than May 15th and submitted to the mayor's office for approval.
Keep Yourself Healthy in QuarantineBread has been baked, puzzles completed, and Netflix binged by stay-at-homers looking for ways to occupy their time. However, many of these distractions are getting old. Especially if you have children at home, staying in can sap a lot of energy. For some, the prospect of having to spend more weeks inside may feel worse than many imagine the virus would. This isn't true-even relatively mild cases of COVID-19 can lay people up for many weeks. Next time you feel the stress of staying home escalating, try
Don't Be Too Hard on Yourself
Staying home is no vacation, whether you're working or not Everyone is feeling the stress of the unknown right now on top of other coronavirus-related fears such as worrying about loved ones, looking for a way to keep food on the table, and watching the rates of infection increase each day. Vet, some of us are also taking on the burden of guiding our children's education, keeping up with housework, and joining every work call.
In times like this, it's fine if you're not performing at 100%. All of us are struggling with split attention and days where time seems to rush by and crawl at the same time. So, if you don't know how to do a math problem or forgot to pick up bananas at the grocery store, don't be down on yourself. Tell yourself it's okay, and you're doing the best you can because even if it doesn't feel like it, you are.
Schedule "Media free" Time
Digital detoxing has become a trendy move as smartphones take over more of our lives, but never has it been more important an idea than right now. Social media has become more crucial than ever as we seek to keep up with friends and family we'd normally see face-to-face. However, amidst the updates and well wishes, news stories interrupt with upsetting data, science no one fully understands yet, and articles looking for meaning in a crisis that has none. Giving yourself a break from the steady flow of information is essential to maintaining a healthy state of mind.
Experts recommend setting boundaries with yourself: Perhaps you can check Facebook from 10-12 to catch up with friends and family, and then again from 7-8 just in case you missed anything earlier that day. Perhaps you want to go screen-free from 10 PM to 10 AM. Though the devices we rely on for instant connection make us feel like we should be "always on," taking time off can help reduce stress.
Stay Moving However You Can
With everyone inside, it almost seems the world has come to a stop. However, our bodies and minds
still need to be active. Whether you can go for walks (at a safe distance from others), find a virtual
workout or stretching exercises online, or even just stand on your balcony or porch for a few minutes each day, getting your heart rate up and seeking out a change of scenery can help take your mind off everything else.
We Are Still One Community
Everyone has good and bad days, but with each other's support and encouragement, we can maintain social distance and a positive outlook at the same time. If you feel like you have things under control, reach out to a loved one to see how they're doing. If you feel like you're drowning in your stress, don't be afraid to ask for help. Ironically, as we all seek to enforce extended personal space, the community is becoming more important than ever. Fighting back against an invisible enemy isn't easy, but we believe the strength and resilience of Atlantans will be key to keeping each other safe.