Tuesday, March 17, 2020

What Can I Do?

What can I do?

It is a question a lot of people are asking right now.

People can start with following the guidelines that the public health experts, the President and Governors have set out.

If you have been living under a rock perhaps you did not get the message. Here it is.

First and foremost, keep in mind that there are a number of people in this country that cannot stay at home because they are providing essential services to the rest of us---health professionals, police and fire, those people delivering goods to groceries and stores, those stacking shelves, people working at drug stores, gas stations and banks and those making sure your water, sewer, electricity and gas are working. I am even talking about those people in the plants making your toilet paper! They can't do their work at home. I have two members of my family that fall in the essential services category.

These people need to be protected. Those who are older and/or have serious health conditions have to be protected as well. If you are out and about carrying on as if your life is no different, you are putting all of these people at risk, not to mention yourself.

A few examples from the  last couple of days. You have to wonder what these people are thinking?

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Monday, March 16
Credit: WFLA.com

Bourbon Street, New Orleans Sunday, March 15
Credit: www.Nola.com, Sophia Gerner

Make no mistake, most people are doing what they are supposed to do. They are quarantined at home, isolating at home or working from home.

We are all in a completely different world than we were a week ago.

What do people do with more free time at home as they wait this out? Even if they are now working from home they have undoubtedly picked up some additional free time that they used to expend on their daily commute.

What can you do with this extra time?

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has a lot of extra time on his hands now that the NCAA basketball tournament has been cancelled for his #1 ranked Jayhawks.

He was asked in a recent telephone interview what he was going to do with all his free time?

“Well, I’ve been told I’m going to clean out the garage and my closet,” Self said with a laugh during a conference call, adding, “That’ll take a couple days right there.”

I can relate.

Mrs. BeeLine has been after me for several years to get down in the basement and go through a number of boxes that I had brought home after I moved out of my office downtown in my former life.

Of course, I have always had something better to do.

My excuses ended this week.

Today I went through a box and found a rolodex filled with hundreds and hundreds of business cards I had accumulated over the years.

Of course, I was not going to just throw all those cards away. Many of those cards dated back well before people just started exchanging contact information on their iPhones. As I worked my way through the cards I had fond memories of so many people I had crossed paths with over the years.

Yes, there were some cards I had that were sales people who had called on me once that I did not remember. Or someone who I had met fleetingly after I gave a speech somewhere. However, there were so many people in that rolodex that I had crossed paths with that made my life richer. That encouraged me to call a few people whose cards I came across to reconnect and see how they were doing. I highly recommend taking the time to do something similar during these trying times.

Mrs. BeeLine is using her time to write letters to a number of dear friends we have had over the years in different parts of the country. It is a special gift she has and she has more time to do it right now.

I recently read that during the bubonic plague in 1665 the University of Cambridge in England closed its doors and sent its students home. (there truly is nothing new under the sun.) Isaac Newton (not yet a Sir) was a student at the school and used his time at home to develop many of the mathematical concepts now known as calculus. It is said that during this time he may have also been sitting under that apple tree that started him thinking about the law of gravity.

Shakespeare is also said to have written King Lear and Macbeth during other quarantine periods in London during other plagues.

You might not be able to top either of those with your time at home but here are a few other ideas that might be worth considering.

Focus more closely on your family.

Lean more into you faith.

Reflect on your life, your career, your future.

Start a journal in which you can share this experience with your children or grandchildren some day.

Go shopping for an elderly neighbor.

Buy a gift card or order takeout from some of your favorite restaurants.

The list is endless.

In fact, here is a more complete list that @LeighStorz shared on Twitter if you are asking "What can I do?" It appears that we owe the ultimate credit to some Aussies for this comprehensive list.

We are living in the most consequential and serious time in my lifetime That represents a lot of years. There are only a few alive today that saw anything comparable with World War II and the Great Depression.

We will get though this together. It is the only choice we have.

However, to get there we must each first ask ourselves, "What can I do?"

If you do that you most likely will find that the best answer probably does not involve you at all. It is all about the others that touch your life. Even if you have never met them.

For those of you who want to follow the latest data on Covid-19 in the United States I recommend that you visit CovidTracking.com for state by state data on total confirmed cases, total tests and deaths from the virus.

Here is the national data as of 3:48 pm on March 17.

53,270 tests performed, principally on people with symptoms, has resulted in a 10.7% positive infection rate. This indicates to me that there are many more cases of seasonal flu out there than there are of coronavirus right now. Of course, the same social distancing and quarantine advice applies to combat either virus.

The numbers in a few of the hot spot states are below. Thus far, over half of the confirmed cases and 66 of the 90 reported deaths in the United States are from these three states.

Stay informed. Stay safe.

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