Coronavirus Diaries: The Six Degrees of Separation

   Quarantine Day 64: Most of the states in the country have opened back up, some more slowly than others. Every day there are more news reports about protests and people defying orders to stay closed or practice social distancing. Here in New York City, there have been several reports of the NYPD harassing people of color for not wearing masks in public, while handing out masks to white people as they lay in the park. I fear that we missed one of the biggest lessons of this virus: we are all connected.

For the past couple of months, there has been a discussion of the importance of essential workers. These essential workers were to be the only ones who were supposed to be out and about going to work because their jobs helped to keep us all going. These were obvious professions such as healthcare workers, police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. In a city like New York, this includes transit workers. This also included grocery workers and delivery workers. The pandemic raged on, and many of these essential workers have fallen to the virus and died because they could not stay home and protect themselves.

Several meat processing plants in the country have had thousands of workers contract the Coronavirus because they could not stop working. This had led to a shortage of meat. A lawmaker described these workers as not a part of the “American Family” because many of them are immigrants. They might not be documented, and thus we don’t need to protect them. Our need to clog our arteries with meat is far greater.

Farmers all over the country have been throwing out food, while millions of Americans are starving because restaurants all over the country have been closed and there is nowhere for them to send their food.

In the Navajo Nation which comprises parts of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, 100 people have died and about 3,200 have tested positive. This might not seem like a large figure, but the Navajo Nation has about 173,667 residents. If the Navajo Nation were its own state, it would have the highest cases of Covid-19 per capita after New York.

As some people in California, are fighting for their rights to eat waffles people are dying. It’s human nature to look at groups of people who do not resemble us as “other.” Those people are dying. Those essential workers are falling ill. But what the coronavirus has highlighted is that we are all connected. I can walk into a store, infect all 30 employees who will then go and infect their loved ones, and the virus spreads. When the virus first impacted China, supply chains and warehouses were shut down. I know several people who are getting married this year, and this was affecting them being able to get their wedding dress in time. And even though this is not a life-altering issue, it highlights how we are connected on a global scale.

I admit that I didn’t give much thought to the people who worked around me. Those I encountered at the supermarket, or my delivery person. I did take them for granted and for that I apologize. I never gave much thought about all the steps necessary for my food to reach my fridge. I don’t live in a bubble, none of us do. It’s a sobering fact to realize that my actions can have such a long reach. It’s also beautiful. The world is a big place, but it’s also small. What you do in your community can have a ripple effect felt around the world. If we go back to the status quo, then people’s deaths have been in vain. Let’s not that make a reality.

* I reported the wrong population for the Navajo Nation.

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