Update Covid: Half a million Covid deaths in the US, and counting…

The bad news: the COVID-19 disaster…

Lives lost to COVID-19 in the US, as recorded by Johns Hopkins University, are about equivalent to the population of Kansas City, (Missouri) or Sacramento, California.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. topped 500,000 Monday, all but matching the number of Americans killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined.

The good news: What you do matters. Help is arriving

New York City, NY, USA- May 20, 2015: US Coast Guard boat sails past the Statue of Liberty, in the Parade of Ships, during Fleet Week.

Common question: What COVID-19 vaccines are available in the US?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given emergency use authorization for two COVID-19 vaccines, the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. A vaccine might prevent you from getting COVID-19 or from becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 if you get the COVID-19 virus. A third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is in the approval process for emergency use authorization and will soon become available. The vaccine from Johnson & Johnson vaccine has the dual advantage of not requiring sub zero storage and requiring a single dose. As research continues and new variants identified, booster shots or vaccine changes may be required to acquire efficacy and immunity.

Trending locally in Kitsap County, Washington: 

All counties in Washington state have now been advanced to PHASE 2 by Governor Inslee. This has allowed businesses and schools to inch incrementally toward normalization. In Kitsap County, children in the youngest grades have been attending school and older grade school children have just returned to school on Feb 22nd. Strict but reasonable precautions have facilitated reopening schools. Children and staff wear face masks indoors, distancing is provided between desks, number of children in a classroom at one time is limited. Face mask breaks are scheduled to allow students to have snacks outside. Parents and guardians attest to their students being symptom free, (as evidenced by absence of fever, COVID-19 symptoms), to assess exposure risk).

If you have already had the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the recommendation is that you can expect good immunity response after 10 – 14 days after the second dose. The current recommendations suggests, after vaccination, it still may be possible to carry virus and silently spread to unvaccinated. It will be important to continue precautions, of wearing face mask, continuing to maintain social distancing, and frequent hand washing to protect yourself and others for this reason after your vaccination.

It is noteworthy that COVID-19 precautions have also had the benefit of lowering the incidence of other viral infections, such as influenza. Measures, like virtual meetings, working from home and participation in online forums have become familiar and commonplace. It will make sense to continue these post pandemic practices.

Trending in SEATTLE / King County, Washington

(Reported by KOMO) State and local health officials announced Tuesday that a variant of COVID-19, similar to what was found in South Africa, has been detected in King County, adding to the urgency to increase vaccinations in the region to halt spread of the virus and its effects. The variant, initially identified in South Africa, was identified Monday through genomic sequencing at the University of Washington Medicine Virology Laboratory, according to a written statement released by the Washington State Health Department.

There are two widely known variants so far, according to health officials:

  • B.1.351, was originally identified in South Africa in December and has been found in ten states in the U.S. At this point, it is not known to cause more severe disease and it is not clear whether it spreads more readily than other strains, state health officials said.
  • B.1.1.7 strain, first identified in the UK, seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19.

State and local health officials said the discovery of the B.1.351 variant poses a new challenge for Washington.

“The detection of these COVID-19 variants in our state reminds us that this pandemic is not over,” said acting State Health Officer Scott Lindquist. “Despite the decrease in our case count, we are very concerned about the emergence of these variants and how it will affect future case counts. As a community, we need to re-double our efforts to prevent the spread of this virus and its variants by following public health guidance.”

To get a vaccine in Washington state:

Determine eligibility: Call 1-800-525-0127 or go to findyourphasewa.org

List of COVID-19 vaccine providers is posted at covidvaccinewa.org.

If you do not have internet or need help registering for your vaccine: Call 360-728-2219 (English) or 360-728-2218 (Spanish)

COVID-19 Risks versus benefits:

So you got your vaccine, what now?

After you are vaccinated: Remember to continue wearing face masks, frequent hand washing and maintain social distancing to protect the unvaccinated. Follow the science and the science based facts. Adhere to advice by CDC, Health Departments and other trusted medical professionals.

Thank you for reading my blog @ nursepress.info. Your comments and questions are welcome at sheilaguizzetti@gmail.com

When can I get a COVID 19 vaccination? That is what everyone wants to know!

Today, (Jan 22, 2021), marks the first anniversary of the first diagnosed case of the novel corona virus – COVID 19 – in the US, after being first diagnosed in Washington state. 

The news had been reported about the outbreak in China and pandemic experts were concerned and monitoring for potential outbreaks in the US and around the globe. Researchers and experts in China had identified the new virus and shared genome information to other countries to jumpstart international research and vaccine development.

I was working at a Long Term Care Nursing facility and we were dealing with an influenza outbreak. Staff was concerned how the facility would manage, how we would get testing to rule out COVID, whether we had adequate PPE, whether we would have staff shortages, and what we would need to do to protect residents and staff. Residents had to stay in their rooms. Common areas, including dining rooms, were closed. Visitors were not allowed. Temperatures were monitored. Anxiety and stress were prevalent as residents and staff became sick. Some succumbed. It was a prelude to the reality of the pandemic.

A year later, the question of whether to get the vaccine for Covid has been answered. Unless you have a history of severe allergic reactions to vaccines, you should get the vaccine when eligible, unless your medical provider, considering your health history, recommends otherwise

Trump called it a hoax and wearing a mask risked signaling political overtones. However, newly elected President Biden has now confirmed what most of us already knew. It was NOT a hoax. As President Biden stated “We are in a war-time effort against Covid.” 

It took a change of leadership. It took research and manufacturing new vaccines and treatments. It took creating diagnostic tools and procedures. It took curtailing fake news, so the public could separate fact from fiction. Four hundred thousand (400,000) Americans have died because of COVID in the last year (probably more than that, considering the limited testing). COVID is contagious and it can mutate. It may be next fall before 70 – 85% of people have been vaccinated and herd immunity attained per Dr Fauci.

There are ways to mitigate spread. Wear face-masks, do frequent hand washing, maintain social distancing, and avoid crowds. For further info check: https://www.cdc.gov

Proactively watch for opportunities to get your COVID vaccine. President Biden’s goal is 100 million COVID vaccines in 100 days. In Washington state, each county is organizing vaccine clinics. Presumingly, each state is doing the same. Public / private enterprises are partnering and announcing plans to provide pop up COVID vaccine clinics, like the one organized by Virginia Mason and Amazon. That event plans to provide 2,000 COVID vaccinations in Seattle, Washington, this weekend. 

If you are over age 65, you are eligible to receive a vaccine. Let your provider know that you want to get a vaccine and make your appointment. New vaccine opportunities are popping up all the time. Make getting your vaccine a priority and git ‘er done! By the way, my vaccine didn’t hurt a bit and I am feeling fine! For further information contact https://www.doh.wa.gov or your local health department.

Transition to a Post Election Reality

In the US National Election of 2020, even as the final votes are being tallied, President Donald Trump is desperately searching for election irregularities to support his baseless proclamation made on election night that he won the 2020 general election. Since the election, for the most part, Trump has laid low, appearing momentarily in blurred repose, on the golf course but mostly keeping out of the public eye. He has been bunkered down in the White House and dictating his “lesser angels” to report his next term delusions. Reports abound that Trump is seeking ways to interfere with the transfer of power to his rival, President Elect Joe Biden, who won the presidential race. Meanwhile, the press speculates on how much danger Trump might pose to others, in terms generally relegated to someone being considered for involuntary commitment.

Although Trump won a respectable amount of votes: 72+ million, Joe Biden received 77+ million votes and the requisite 270 + electoral votes needed to win. The Associated Press called the race with 306 votes for Biden and 232 votes for Trump.

The actual electoral vote happens on Dec. 16th. Ironically, there was no massive blue tidal wave that flooded down ballot to the advantage of the high ground democrats. By all accounts, the election was well run, with high participation, despite the pandemic. Little evidence provides support for Trump’s claims of “a rigged election”.

Despite Trump’s attempts to undermine the credibility of the election, especially with his regurgitated protestations about mail in voting, his predictive claims have proved misplaced and multiple legal cases have been thrown out of court expeditiously. The mail in vote did exactly as advertised. It increased participation, convenience and safety in the middle of a pandemic. It was NOT an untried or risky process. It has worked well in multiple states. Mail in voting has worked in Oregon for 20 years. In Washington state, which has enjoyed the convenience and security inherent in mail voting, it is an easy process. You register; you receive a ballot; you can mail it at the Post Office; you can drop it off at a ballot box or you can vote in person! The system works very well – no postage required! There is a paper copy of the results and it is not attached to the internet, so it is less subject to corruption. After voting, you can even easily check on line, to find out if your vote has been accepted.

The question is, how far will the “Trumplicans” (Trump Republicans) go to satisfy their moping leader? How many people will Trump “tweet fire” to assign blame and save face? To placate the President, will his closest aides risk undermining the democratic process? Will they risk the security of the nation?

Per (CNN), Former White House chief of staff John Kelly issued an on-the-record statement criticizing President Donald Trump saying, “The delay in transitioning is an increasing national security and health crisis. It costs the current administration nothing to start to brief Mr. Biden, Ms. Harris, the new chief-of-staff, and ALL identified cabinet members and senior staff,… the downside to not doing so could be catastrophic to our people regardless of who they voted for.”

It is time for Republicans, and others, to insist Trump follow the hallowed tradition of the United States government, as modeled by our first President, George Washington. The tradition throughout American history has been to peacefully pass the reins of power from one president to the next president, with grace, dignity and honor. Anything less is behavior unbefitting. The whole world is watching and history is judging!

So, what does this have to do with nursing? We are in a pandemic. We must be able to trust leaders, supervisors, managers, nurses and others to make appropriate policy decisions based on sound scientific facts, to advocate for the best practices, and certainly to tell the truth. If you are a nurse or medical worker wondering whether your coworkers are well and able to work, or if there will be enough PPE to work safely, or you are anxious about the risks of your job, the situation is rife with anxiety for medical professionals, caregivers, patients, residents, and families. Nurses need to be able to count on sound leadership. The fact is, it was clear to anyone paying attention, that a pandemic could happen with the early reports about the viral outbreak in China. The pandemic was predictable and predicted. The cases in China were in the news. The cases in Washington state were in the news. The cases spreading across the country are still in the news. Meanwhile, some countries, like New Zealand, have had greater success dealing with the pandemic with clear policies and more successful outcomes. President Trump did not communicate or model safe policies. He ignored the obvious, he ignored the science, he ignored the professionals, and he opened the door to letting the pandemic get out of control by minimizing the risks. The greatest failure was the mixed messaging and the lack of will to control the pandemic in the first place. This failure lead to the lock downs, the worsening economy, and the deaths of a quarter of a million Americans.

Be thankful that the election is behind us, that the hateful rhetoric has quieted, and that President Elect, Joe Biden has already appointed a Covid task force, as his first order of business.

Continue to do what you can to stay safe in a proactive way. Wear a face mask in public, provide social distancing, do frequent hand washing, get tested when symptomatic or with known Covid 19 exposure, follow the guidelines of the health departments, CDC and medical professionals, state officials and get the flu vaccine and encourage your family do the same. After known exposure, self quarantine for 10-14 days. Get tested for Covid with symptoms or known exposure. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus:

  • Fever or chills, elevated temperature
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

With new leadership, sound policy, renewed resolve, new therapeutics and vaccines under development, hopefully the cases will begin to trend downward and Trump and the pandemic will be relegated to the history books. Have a safe Thanksgiving! Thank you for following my blog! I look forward to your feedback!

Misinformation: the Danger

Everyone thinks. It is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed, or prejudiced.

As citizens, we make decisions, sometimes without taking the time to familiarize ourselves with the relevant issues and positions; without thinking about the long-run implications of what is being proposed; without paying attention to how politicians manipulate us by flattery or vague and empty promises. We make decisions what to believe, who to support, who to vote for, whether to vote and how close a politician believes in what we believe. Politicians often make policy, laws and decisions based on their own political ideology and alignment.

Citizens need to utilize critical thinking by:   

-Raising vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely.

-Gathering and assessing relevant information, considers the source of information. Look at multiple sources. 

-Separate opinion versus fact-based information from research/experts.

-Come to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, test them against relevant criteria and standards. 

-Think open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as needs be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences.

-Communicate effectively with others to figure out solutions to complex problems. 

-Behave as if your life depended on it – because it may!

In this “Age of Enlightenment” despite our sophisticated digital devices, we are systematically influenced by sound bite journalism, opinion based reporting, news flashes, highlights, headlines, and twitter-verse commentary. All provide great opportunity to mislead, misrepresent because they fail to provide factual comprehensive, in-depth analysis, facts and evidence. 

Increasingly, people are streaming information after the fact, as facts change at the speed of light, too vague and blurred to represent reliable information. In lieu of evidence and facts, we are left to our own devices and biases to decide the relevance, validity or truthfulness of any given story.

Source: From the Foundation for Critical Thinking/criticalthinking.org

In the age of Covid 19 – why would you not err on the side of caution and take a few basic precautions to protect yourself and your family? The health and scientific communities are nearly unequivocally unified in advising the public saying: “wear a facemark, maintain social distance, wash your hands.” The rest of the world, with access to doing these measures, does so routinely.  Not only have other countries been able to reduce the prevalence of Covid 19, but other contagious illness as well. The Covid pandemic is world wide. In the United States, it has remains out of control. It is not coincidental that there is a simultaneous dearth of critical thinking and a prevalence of behavior that appears to be based on opinion and misplaced political ideology. 

As of this writing, per the John Hopkins web site, coronavirus.jhu.edu The information is updated hourly:

Global Confirmed: 20,936,041

Global Deaths: 759,844

Confirmed in USA: 5,254,171

Deaths in USA: 167,242

Your own behavioral decisions factor into determining your risk for becoming a Covid 19 case.  Your own risk factors: (i.e. age, race, health and economic status, access to health care, coexisting conditions effecting health status) determine whether you are more likely to survive, should you contact Covid 19.

Think critically.  Do your own research and due diligence when you follow the news and mindfully decide on your behavior and the behavior you model to your children and others.

For critical thinking, ask yourself these five basic questions:

  • What is the issue and the conclusion?
  • What are the reasons?
  • What are the assumptions?
  • Are there any fallacies in the reasoning?
  • How good is the evidence?

Let’s give critical thinking a try:

What are your thoughts – based on critical thinking – of this recently reported news story that appeared on line? 

Russian Vaccine to Roll Out Within Weeks

You only get one shot at public trust. Despite widespread skepticism over Vladimir Putin’s claim that his country has developed a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine, Russia’s now announced that medics will be inoculated within two weeks. Not everyone is unbelieving: The Philippines says it’ll launch clinical trials for the preventative injections this fall and Russia’s already arranged to mass produce it in Brazil. Meanwhile, anti-vaxxers on U.S. social media are also spreading conspiracy theories about other vaccines, and a May poll found that one-third of Americans say they won’t get the shot even when and if it becomes available. 

Sources: Al Jazeera, Reuters, CNN

The Thinker

What do YOU think?

What will YOU do?

What will be the RESULTS of what YOU do?

Misinformation and Critical thinking…! It matters!

Follow the money!

A recent article published July 13, 2020 in the Kitsap Sun written by Nathan Pilling, discussed the SBA (Small Business Administration) Payment Protection Program and the potential impacts of the emergency small business loans received in Kitsap County, Washington.

I think it is important to evaluate how our tax dollars are being spent as our country tries to balance the intertwined crises of the economy and the pandemic.

As the coronavirus pandemic’s economic impact came into sharp focus, hundreds of businesses, trusts, churches and nonprofits in Kitsap and North Mason counties were approved for emergency small business loans backed by the federal government, databases released on July 6 by the U.S. Small Business Administration show.

Among the largest recipients of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans in the region: Kitsap Mental Health Services in Bremerton and Taylor Shellfish Company in Shelton, which were both approved for distributions of between $5 million and $10 million.

In the SBA release last week, approved distributions of more than $150,000 are reported in ranges and those under that line are identified without names, by business or organization type. Many, but not all, list how many jobs the funds would help to retain.

Funds were designed to help businesses retain at least 3,300 jobs in the region, according to those databases.

Kitsap Mental Health CEO Joe Roszak said his organization received a $6.1 million distribution and that the vast majority of the money went to payroll. A final chunk of about $100,000 will be gone within the next week or two, he said.

“Individuals who were requiring services who refused to come in for service because they were fearful for their health and the health of others, it pretty much significantly impacted our operation’s ability to deliver services and revenue,” he said. “The PPP, I know, was really essential to stabilizing our operations and allowed continuance of many of our services, and for that we’re grateful,” he said.

On Bainbridge Island, the environmental education center IslandWood received about $1 million, which allowed the nonprofit to bring back staff it had furloughed as events like retreats and school visits were canceled and other funding had dried up, CEO Megan Karch said. About 60% of the center’s typical staffing level of 100 people had been furloughed, but many were able to come back to work with the funding on redesigning education programs that could go online, she said. IslandWood was transparent with staff that it was highly likely that they would be brought back only for a temporary period, and as the center recently finished off the pot of money, it had had to re-furlough employees and is now back down to about 35 staffers, Karch said. She anticipated about 70% of the loan her organization received would be forgivable. “The environmental education industry is at great risk, frankly,” she said. “The Paycheck Protection Program money is a step in the right direction.”

Pilling Nathan. (7/13/20). Payment Protection Progam: Who Received an Emergency Small Business Loan in Kitsap? The Kitsap Sun, https://www.kitsapsun.com/story/news/2020/07/13/kitsap-ppp-payment-protection-program-who-received-emergency-small-business-loan/5394691002/

If you want to know which businesses in your area received Payment Protection Program Emergency Funds, follow this link: https://datacentral.kitsapsun.com/paycheck-protection-program-loans/

Happy Independence Day!

Information is linked from the Kitsap Health Department. Search the health department specific to your location for information including about Covid-19 case updates in your locale and other topics of interest to you.

Happy Independence Day!

Here are some fun facts about this national holiday, provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Archives:

The Declaration of Independence was approved July 4, 1776 by the 2nd Continental Congress, leading 13 colonies to gain Independence from England. The declaration was signed by 56 congressional members, among them a committee of five who drafted the declaration: Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston.

Most of the congressional delegates didn’t sign it until August 2. John Hancock, President of the Congress, was first and there were 55 others. A few refused. George Washington didn’t sign it as he was away with his troops.

When the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, there were about 2.5 million people living in the new free nation. As of July 4, 2019, there were estimated to be 328 million people living in the United States.

Read the Declaration of Independence and more about its fascinating history from the National Archives here.

May the 4th be with YOU!
Flag by Sheila Guizzetti, Copyright 2010
Seize the day!
Self Portrait by Sheila Guizzetti Copyright 2010

Enjoy Independence Day, be safe!
Fireworks Image by Sheila Guizzetti, Copyright 2010

News & Information:

COVID-19 Testing Results Update for Kitsap County as of 10 a.m. July 4

Fireworks Safety Tips – from kidshealth.org

If fireworks are legal where you live, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Kids should never play with fireworks. Things like firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers are just too dangerous. If you give kids sparklers, make sure they keep them outside and away from the face, clothing, and hair. Sparklers can reach 1,800°F (982°C) — hot enough to melt gold.
  • Buy only legal fireworks (legal fireworks have a label with the manufacturer’s name and directions; illegal ones are unlabeled), and store them in a cool, dry place. Illegal fireworks usually go by the names M-80, M100, blockbuster, or quarterpounder. These explosives were banned in 1966, but still account for many fireworks injuries.
  • Never try to make your own fireworks.
  • Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.
  • Steer clear of others setting off fireworks. They can backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even as a joke.
  • Don’t hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear eye protection, and don’t carry fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.
  • Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush and leaves and flammable substances. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year.
  • Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers), and never relight a dud.
  • Don’t allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
  • Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can.
  • Think about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be very frightened or stressed by the Fourth of July and other big celebrations. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they’ll run loose or get injured.

If an Injury Happens

If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital.

Hamilton!

For those maintaining social isolation at home and looking for activities to do today: I highly recommend watching Hamilton, on Disney + now streaming for a short time only! 

Remember when you couldn’t get the theatre tickets? This movie features the original cast! It is wonderfully inspiring, musically soaring, and a timely gift from Disney+ to the nation reeling with the Covid-19 pandemic and general civil unrest seeking a better union, as we move towards Independence Day on the 4th of July. The movie rights to Hamilton were sold to Disney+ and I appreciate that they are streaming the production today. I strongly advocate for you to share this experience with your family as it serves as a valuable lesson in American Revolutionary history and speaks to the challenging times in which we live. 

Just a warning for parents: there are a few “salty” words. War is hell after all.

Guest Post: City Life in a Pandemic

All of us have been profoundly effected by the reality of living in a pandemic. Elizabeth, my daughter provided a guest post of how this has effected her situation living in Seattle.

My husband, our dog, and I live in 640 square feet- one-bedroom condominium in a busy, but residential Seattle neighborhood. My husband has been working in our living room since early March. As King County’s Covid-19 numbers fluctuate, we do not know when he will return to his office. My office has always been in our bedroom closet. We both take care to not step in video meetings and conference calls. And my husband takes special care to be quiet when I record a podcast. Thankfully, we have a patio which gives us a chance to shout hello to our neighbors in their patios and I planted our puppy a little garden so she could lie on plants between trips to the park. Still sometimes it feels tight. There is always another mess to clean, another meal to prepare with both of us home. Still, with so many unemployed or struggling for any number of reasons, we are lucky.

I wander between sadness and feeling lucky that I don’t have to choose my health over work

For myself, and many Seattleites, Covid-19 is a real threat. It doesn’t matter if we, personally, are not in a vulnerable population. Too many of us knew the butcher from the next neighborhood over who died of Covid19 in March. There was a favorite local restaurateur who, along with her husband, died from Covid19. A month ago, we were sent a courtesy message when someone in the next building contracted the disease. Due to privacy concerns, we don’t know who it was or what happened to them. Hopefully, they recovered. 

We wear non-medical cloth masks within our building. There is no more small talk in the elevators because we ride elevators alone or take the stairs. We duck into alcoves so people can pass us in the corridors. There is always the noise of other people, but we rarely see anyone. 

In public, we wear masks as we try to watch the cues, ropes, or tape marks on the floors to remain distant. Anger simmers under the surface due to long lines or out of stock items. I have heard people curse at masked store clerks standing behind acrylic barriers. Most often, the next person in line says please after every sentence along with several thank yous as if they might negate the harm.  

When I am running multiple errands, I use hand sanitizer between stops. Many stores have set up temporary handwash stations at the front door. I always use them. I stopped taking the bus, I drive if I have to go somewhere not within walking distance.

Though legally not required to wear a mask outside, most sidewalks are too narrow to pass without entering another person’s space, so I do. I wish others would. I put an extension on my dog’s leash so she may say hello to other dogs at the parks, keeping the other dog owners and me at least 12 feet away from each other. I even wear a mask to grab our weekly takeout dinner from a Doordash driver. Only people who want their dinner stolen from the front stoop would say yes to a no-contact delivery.

I also wash my hands as soon as I return home. After all, I have touched door handles, hit buttons. that others touched. And most often change my clothing unless I am returning outside.

Though I have mostly avoided crowds, I have been to a few Black Lives Matter rallies and marches. The goal to end police brutality and eradicate systematic racism is worth the risk of joining the crowd. It goes without saying, I wore a mask. However, the organizers also gave away masks, face shields, and hand sanitizer. At one event, it was pouring. My umbrella helped people to stay even further from me. 

Yes, wearing a mask can be uncomfortable. My face gets hot, walking in sunny weather. Stepping inside from the wind or rain always causes my glasses to fog, but it doesn’t matter. We wear masks to protect each other. 

It doesn’t matter that Washington State is opening up: I live near people with Covid. There is no way to know who is infected, so I won’t visit my family. I won’t chance bringing unknown germs to my grandmother, my parents, or siblings or their children. My writing group meets via Zoom. 

Still, the Seattle Freeze has shifted somewhat in the pandemic. While there is the constant stress of other people, most people have seemed friendlier on their daily walks. Some of this is forced since we cannot see each other’s facial expressions. Hellos have become in a higher, affable pitch. There are nods when people pass each other. When we do stop the chance to talk, there is talk of our dogs, of course. And afterwards there is talk of a better, kinder, more equitable future after the pandemic passes. 

Elizabeth Guizzetti is Sheila’s eldest daughter and lives in Seattle with her husband and dog. She is an author, illustrator, and podcaster—though more regularly writes about vampires and aliens rather than real life.  You can find her work at http://elizabethguizzetti.com