Advice to states surging from the first coronavirus cluster

June 24, 2020

I have been meaning to put together some suggestions for folks who live in FL, AZ, TX, NC, GA, MS, SC and all the other states where the coronavirus seems to be getting quickly out of control. Here are some of the things that worked.

I live in the first coronavirus cluster in Westchester, New York — which started in New Rochelle. There is a weird quiet before the storm. You are in that now. We were still debating — should we have in-person events? Are we overreacting? — granted back then we knew almost nothing about the virus because Trump was hiding it all. Then it hit and spiraled fast.

So prepare yourself mentally to change your life, and accept not going outside for anything other than the real basics. No more gym, restaurants, coffee shop etc. — skip everything. The key is to shelter in place while hospitalizations and ICU beds approach capacity and beyond. When the medical system is strained, you don’t want to get sick and further flood the system.

This applies to your kids too. Think about it this way: every playdate they go on your whole family is coming along, and so is every other family whose kids are there and so on. Limit people coming into your home to the real essentials — defer for example pest control — let them do the outside only. Again, every person who comes into your home is bringing all their contacts along with them.

One thing that was super helpful was having a group chat with seven local friends. We set it up for political events we were hosting — sigh — but quickly it morphed into a support group and sharing of news and sharing tips like — if you wake up at 2 a.m. you can order from this online supermarket app and so on. Yes, it gets like that. You will also find people you know and love get sick and die. I think we are all still traumatized by this (I know I am). Of the eight friends in our little group chat, four ended up getting sick (along with their families).

When you order in food, or bring packages or bags into the house, put the boxes and bags outside. Then wash your hands, get disinfectant spray to clean the door handles, phone, keys, eyeglasses, whatever. You have to constantly be vigilant to think about killing the virus wherever it can live. Wash your hands constantly. Every time you come in the house and just all the time.

When you need to go out — and truly only for essentials, wear a mask and use disposable gloves for things like the supermarket and even pumping gas. Throw them away when you’re done. Then, when you get into the car after, have a small bottle of hand sanitizer. When you get home, wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly. Then, use a disinfectant spray and clean your steering wheel, keys, cellphone, etc. Yes, think of life as a germaphobe.

Skip things like the car wash and anywhere where people will be inside your car and touching things you can then touch. Do go for daily walks, or plan to be in nature of some kind for your sanity. Always have your mask on if you are somewhere you cannot social distance, or in your pocket if you can social distance.

Be gentle and kind to yourself. Stay safe!

Those are some tips. Others who lived through this — feel free to share your suggestions as comments.

Activist, author. The Weekly List website, podcast & book THE LIST. POLITICO 50. President @TheNewAgenda. More info