Last month, we had plans to go to America. As the date of our trip drew closer, however, people started getting more and more hysterical about coronavirus. At first, we thought the choice of whether or not to take the risk would be up to us. Israel was instituting a policy that anyone coming into the country would need to be in self-imposed quarantine for fourteen days; we started to weigh whether we were prepared to go through such an experience upon our return. Then the government imposed outright travel restrictions: Had we visited the U.S., we would not have been able to come back into the country after the trip was supposed to be over.
The idea that the international airport had shut down truly gave me the heebie-jeebies. It felt like one of those doomsday movies – and that’s a kind of movie that I much prefer not to watch.
I went to my pilates class the morning after canceling my trip. I always hug my teacher, but that day, we stuck to an elbow-bump. The thought that we weren’t supposed to hug the people we love was even more odd, creepy, and upsetting. At the rehab, all my girl patients line up to hug me before and after group sessions; it helps them feel connected, reminding them that I’m with them on their journey.
All of a sudden, the word was out: Keep away.
By the end of the week, I was sitting at home in my office, all alone. I watched Shani on my WhatsApp as we tried to work over the computer. This is our new work environment. Ugh, I hate it. I need human contact.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the necessity of these restrictions. God forbid, with all my complaining, anyone I know should get sick from this. Not to mention, I’m with Bibi and Trump in the over-70 club. I need to be careful, too.
On the other hand, there’s so much to pay attention to and worry about. People are sanitizing their hands at ten-second intervals; is that all you need to be safe? Last time I took some cash from the machine on the wall, should I have washed my hands between pushing the button and taking out my credit card? If I just pumped gas, am I in danger?
When I think about what’s happening to the world, not only physically and socially, but also financially, I begin to spin terrifying scenarios of global poverty. If the stock markets continue to crash, if all the hotels by the Dead Sea, for example, it’s going to be bad news for an endless array of people on the planet. Their livelihoods are dependent on sources that have been directly hit by this virus.
I tend not to be a pessimist, but of late, I am bombarded by a bleak picture on the TV, radio, and internet, and even in casual conversation with neighbors. The picture looks like it will get far worse before it eases up.
What can I say? God, help Your people. Save the planet.