I’ve been trying to figure out the road map that got us from scary and uncertain projections a few weeks ago to where we are this morning. Governor Abbott confidently announced: “We’ll put a new order in place that begins to open up a lot of businesses and so we’re running pretty much every different type of business that exists in the state of Texas,” including churches. I should be delighted, right? But I’m a bit anxious.
We started out the COVID-19 story with a conviction that “these things” cannot happen here. We’re too well-organized, too civilized, too on-top-of-things and our standards too high to let such an unseemly breakout of this kind get out of control. No, not here. And, besides, it won’t reach our shores anyway. This is what is called the Denial phase.
Then we began blaming “the others” for bringing and spreading COVID-19 here. When that didn’t help, we dug in deeper with theories about an unleashing of the virus from a lab “over there”. Depending on the story, it was either intentional or accidental, but in both cases, it was hidden and underhanded. Much energy was expended finding a scapegoat — less on plans to mitigate the impact. This is what is called the Anger phase.
The hospitals and data scientists raised alarm bells. Data trends and actual numbers diverted attention from the blame-game. Things got real – it was indeed breaking out “over here”, and in a big way. There ensued much thrashing, churning and gnashing of teeth. COVID-19 filled the psyche of the nation, in our waking and in our dreams. No conversation, newspaper, communication or media programming could avoid the topic and maintain relevance. What to do? Many approaches were designed and we started implementing restrictions “here” that had worked “over there”. This is what is called the Bargaining phase.
We submerged into quiet isolated pockets of existence, surfacing only for essentials. Some of us were deemed to be essential persons in essential industries, so continued regular activities such as doctor, nurse, policeman, fireman, or food supply chain workers. The rest of us switched our lives over to Zoom and carried on, as best we could, from our closeted safe spaces. Much of the economy ground to a standstill. The stock market plunged. Filing for unemployment skyrocketed. Periodic touch points with the external world through Zoom and media left us grasping for coping techniques. We were reminded of our social nature — some did better than others in their isolation. COVID-brain and dysfunction creeps in all around. This is what is called the Depression phase.
Now we can’t take it any longer. We’re busting out all over the country. We are figuring out how to come alive again. We are ready to leap into the world again. It appears that some jurisdictions are leap-frogging the carefully designed methodical and gradual re-opening gates and phases. Many don’t have time for that. Haste to reopen looks risky and dangerous, but we don’t care or don’t believe it. We cannot stay locked down anymore. We need to jump-start our economy again. We need to resuscitate our jobs and our social life in order to survive — AND we need our health too. Trade-offs will be made. If we find out we’ve leapt too soon, we may need to run through this cycle again. We’ll worry about that when it happens. Maybe this coming winter? Right now, we’re “gonna saddle up and move ’em on out”! This is what is called the New Beginnings phase.
As for me, I get it, but I’ll be watching from behind my mask and gloves at a 6-ft distance — and mostly from my house! Wishing everyone all the best.