Posts tagged with "Sheltering in place"

You’re too close to Grandma! American families can’t agree on reopening protocols

July 6, 2020

When shelter-in-place restrictions eased in May in Gurnee, Illinois, Laura Davis’ first thought was: When are people coming over? The teacher’s mother and two sisters live within driving distance, she said, and her backyard can accommodate social distancing.

It turned out that wasn’t going to be easy, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Davis, 38, landed and her older sister could not agree on get-together terms. Her sister and mother have health conditions that put them at risk for complications from the new coronavirus and said they would come only if they could sit outside, if no one ate, and if everyone wore masks—including all nine children.

That might sound fairly reasonable, but Davis couldn’t understand why food she prepared would be riskier than food delivered from restaurants. Her sister and mother wouldn’t budge.

“It’s been a weird balancing act,” she told the Journal. “I’m trying to understand them, but I’m also trying to push them a little bit. You can’t do this for two years until there’s a vaccine.”

The question of how to resume aspects of normal life months after the first known U.S. coronavirus death is confounding businesses and roiling state and national politics. It is also straining relations among friends and relatives.

What’s more, the recent surge of newly confirmed cases in many states has made the question more urgent—upending reopening plans, and prompting several states to reverse course or hit pause. Disagreement among federal officials, governors and mayors has led to shifting official messages and rules about how to stay safe.

Behind all the confusion are thousands of conversations and arguments every day in households across America about how to do the right thing—with disagreements on what that is.

Behavior one friend or relative deems essential around other people—mask-wearing, for example—is considered excessive by another. Differences over safety measures split some families on partisan lines, much as they divide parts of the country.

Summer is especially fraught, with vacation plans suddenly a subject of debate. The Journal spoke to Dani Duncan of Jacksonville, Florida, whose 12-year-old daughter traditionally spends a month with her in-laws in Daytona Beach each summer.

However, this year, the Duncans didn’t think it was safe and said no. Her in-laws took offense, she told the news outlet: “They were like, ‘You don’t trust us with her.’ ” Her husband replied, “Obviously, we do,” said Dani, 49. “It became personal.”

Her father-in-law suggested a weekend trip instead of a month, but she wasn’t OK with that, either. Her daughter was upset about the change of plans, she said, and her in-laws felt at a loss.

In America, who takes what position in the family debate over COVID-19 safety precautions is sometimes drawn by party lines. Some within families say the  threat has been overblown by political liberals and the media; others say politically conservative Americans have unwisely played down the threat.

Indeed, a June survey by the Pew Research Center found that political partisanship—more than race, geography, gender or age—was the biggest factor in determining comfort levels with various activities. The partisan difference widened since Pew conducted a similar survey in March, with Republicans significantly more at ease than Democrats about going to places like restaurants, salons and friends’ houses.

Mary Ellen Carroll, 48, who lives in Huntington, West Virginia, has barely left home since March. Her husband, Mike Carroll, plays golf several times a week and has been sitting outside on the country-club patio with fellow players after rounds—six feet apart, he said.

“I don’t want him to go because he’s 70 years old,” she said. “There have been arguments.” Her husband fudged it: “There’s been discussions,” but “we don’t really argue.”

They also disagree over whether their disagreement falls along partisan lines. The politically conservative Mike Carroll wears a mask only in the grocery store, he said. May Ellen Carroll wears a mask when she goes out and said she gets dirty looks from people—her mask says “Ridin’ With Biden,” she said, but she also gets negative reactions in a pink knitted one without a slogan.

“You know conservatives don’t believe in quarantine and masks,” she said. But the Carrolls have achieved an uneasy truce, and intend to go on in the same fashion.

And back in Gurnee, Illinois, the Davises have come to an understanding. Katie Clark, 41, the sister with diabetes, told the Journal that her sister, Laura, had misunderstood her objections. She said Laura’s inference that she didn’t want home-cooked food was a misunderstanding: She didn’t want people eating because they would have to take off their masks, which she didn’t think was safe..

Laura  “thinks I’m far too cautious, and I don’t think I’m too careful,” said Katie, a librarian. “We decided if we could be one person we’d handle COVID perfectly.”

Their mother, Kathy Clark, 70, said she’s coming around and has started spending time with the family indoors—six feet apart, wearing masks. “It’s just like anything,” she said. “The more you do the new thing, the more you get comfortable.”

Katie’s parents-in-law presented another dilemma. When she had them over in June, everyone agreed on the plan: Precautions included bring-your-own water bottles, mask-wearing, six-foot distancing.

But her 8-year-old and twins, 6, hadn’t seen their grandparents in months and had a hard time staying away. Her mother-in-law is immunocompromised. Katie could see her father-in-law getting anxious. “He kept saying, ‘Boys, you’re too close to Grandma,’ ” she said. “You could tell it was too much.”

Her mother-in-law, Linda Davis, 71, of Lake Forest, Illinois, told the Journal that she and her husband plan to see their grandchildren in a few days—outdoors, where the risk seems to be low.

“It makes me wonder what’s gonna happen in the fall,” she said. “But for right now, I’m happy to have that chance.”

Research contact: @WSJ

The spirits are willing: Business is up 140% for psychics during the pandemic

June 1, 2020

With a pandemic, a lockdown, painful personal losses, a spiraling economy, fewer jobs, stress on relationships, and literally nowhere to go, who can blame Americans for wanting to know what will happen in the “foreseeable future”?

Since the beginning of March, astrologers, spiritual guides, tarot card readers, and psychics have seen an uptick in business, Salon reports.

. According to Google search trends, Google searches for “psychic” jumped to a one-year high during the week of March 8—when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began issuing some guidance on COVID-19.

Business review and aggregator site Yelp posted an Economic Impact Report that noted that its “Supernatural Readings” business category was up 140%, as more Americans turned to tarot card readers, mediums and psychics.

Leslie Hale has been offering astrology readings since the late 1990s. She joined Keen.com, an online “spiritual advisor network” in 2001, and told Salon that currently her business is up about 30%. (Likewise, Keen.com told Salon they are experiencing a vast increase in traffic as of late.) Hale said usually she had from ten to 15 calls a day, but during the pandemic it’s been anywhere between 20 and 30. She charges $3.53 a minute.

“There has never been a time like this,” Hale told Salon of her 21-year astrologer career. “I think everybody wants to know if their life is going to go on, and if there’s anything in the future they have to look forward to.”

It makes sense that average people are seeking clarity in uncertain times.. According to Pew Research data from 2018, an estimated 60% of  American adults accept at least one “New Age belief,” a list that includes psychics.

While in the past, spiritualism meant looking for connection with the dead, today it is more about seeking assurance. Alicia Butler, a 38-year-old freelance writer, usually turns to tarot card readings for comfort. She told Salon during the pandemic they’ve been especially helpful.

“It’s definitely a source of comfort right now,” Butler, who is quarantining with her parents, told Salon. “If things don’t reopen and we don’t have a vaccine or something, am I going to just be 13 again and living with my parents, and not growing emotionally or professionally ever again?”

“I mean, it’s basically somebody telling you that everything’s gonna be okay,” Butler added.

Nathalie Theodore, JD, LCSW, a psychotherapist in Chicago, told Salon it makes sense that some would turn to psychics or tarot card readers during this time.

“Uncertainty is something that many of us struggle with and, for some, it can cause a tremendous amount of anxiety,” Theodore said. “Fear of the unknown can send us into a downward spiral of negative thinking and imagining worst case scenarios.”

Theodore added that one of the hardest parts of this pandemic is not knowing how long it will last or what our lives will look like once it ends.

Hale, the psychic, said the number one question she gets from clients is when they will find a romantic partner.

“The biggest concern of most of the people who call me is still their relationship,” Hale said. “People want to know, ‘when I am going to be able to go out and meet someone special again?'”

She believes that inquiry is tied to loneliness.

“During this time of social isolation, I think people are lonely . . . . of course we have technology but that’s not the same thing as sitting across the table from someone,” Hale said.

Sara Kohl, who does “remote viewing” for Keen.com, said many people are wondering about their job security, too. “I’ve had a lot of my clients get furloughed,” Kohl said. “And so they’re calling… wondering if they’re going to be going back to work, and when.”

Fortuitously, Kohl is one of those rare people who is unconcerned about job security right now.  “It’s been the busiest I’ve ever seen,” she said. “People are calling in droves.”

Research contact: @Salon

The new normal: Why your pet has been acting up

May 20, 2020

If the faces around you have become way too familiar over the past few months of “sheltering in place,” have some empathy for your pets.

“Animals do really like to have routines,” says Jamie Richardson, DVM, chief of staff for Small Door Veterinary in New York City. “With this change, with our day-to-day anxieties, all that translates down to our pets.”

That’s why your dog or cat may be behaving unusually, such as barking or meowing more often than normal, over-grooming, or urinating in inappropriate places (known as displacement behaviors or displacement activities), she recently told Better Homes & Gardens.

So, what can you do when your dog begins eating couch cushions, or your cat is tearing up the carpet? “Try to keep them as much on a normal schedule as possible,” Richardson says. That means feed them when you usually do, go on daily walks like normal, but try not to add in anything out of the norm

. “I tell people that they need to spend time away from their pets,” Richardson adds. “Don’t make every walk about going out with your dog. Make sure you leave the house sometimes without your pet.”

If you’re working from home, try designating work times where you’re completely separated from your animal. “My husband actually shuts himself in the office and doesn’t let the pets in there, so it’s almost like he has left for work,” Richardson says. (She owns a Labrador named Ralph and a Chihuahua named Freddie). “So at 6 p.m., he just opens the door. They get excited like he just came home from work.

“And, although a schedule is important, try to vary your routine each day,” she recommends to Better Homes & Gardens. “For example, if your pet has separation anxiety, consider showering at a different time so they don’t know when you’ll be gone and “go crazy,” Richardson says.

Additionally, be sure to give your pet as much love and attention as possible. “Set aside time each day specifically for your pet, whether it’s physical or mental exercise,” Richardson says. This could be anything, including playing with them in your house or backyard or even teaching them a new trick.”

Richardson told the magazine that she also likes toys that double as brain games. For pups, she recommends a puzzle bowl, ($8.60, Chewy.com). Cats, on the other hand, love Doc. & Phoebe’s Cat Co.’s indoor hunting feeder (19.99, Chewy.com), she says.

Of course, it’s also important to take care of yourself. “Try to look after your own mental health, too,” Richardson adds. “Dogs and cats have intuitive behavior. They know when we are stressed. They know when we are upset. They know something is wrong. That can cause them anxiety, too.”

Research contact: @BHG

What’s cooking: The quarantine diet

May 12, 2020

Now that we’re all sheltering in place, convenient and soothing comfort foods—like hot dogs, soup, and macaroni and cheese—are outselling the healthy options that prevailed pre-pandemic, Axios reports. Kimchi and kale? Not so much.

In fact, a lot of the foods that were trending at the beginning of this year—the plant-based meat substitutes, low-alcohol/no-alcohol drinks, and products billed as organic or sustainable—are not on our radar anymore,.

It’s back to the 1950s and 1960s, as frozen foods (vegetables, pizzas, entrees) enjoy historic sales increases, while canned goods and processed foods (soups, beans, tomato sauce) have been flying off of supermarket shelves.

And, Axios notes, meal kits are king:

On the beverage sidethe “sober curious” consumers who made “Dry January” such a big thing this year have been drowned out by the bored and anxious, who are driving up booze sales, quaffing “quarantinis” and hoisting Corona beer during Zoom happy hours.

“It goes back to what I can control and what will calm me down,” Suzy Badaracco, CEO of Culinary Tides, an agency that tracks trends for the food industry,  tells Axios.

By the same token, dairy, once villainized, is making a comeback. “It’s a complete protein, and it’s calming to the senses,” Badaracco says. “Whether it’s ice cream or cheese or butter—it’s comfort food.”

Faux meats — plant-based foods that are eaten primarily by non-vegetarians — have lost steam during the pandemic, and that trend will continue, Badaracco says. Even with a national meat shortage, she thinks people will seek out alternative sources of protein, like legumes, rather than imitation burgers.

“COVID-19 will push meat eaters back to animal protein at an accelerated pace, while vegetarians will celebrate plants being plants,” she predicted in an interview with the online news outlet.

And “sustainability sales,” which include organic foods, will continue to decelerate “due to cost, not desire,” Badaracco says.

Research contact: @axios

Denny’s launches make-at-home meal kits and expanded grocery delivery services

April 30, 2020

Denny’s, a chain of 1,700 diner-style restaurants that operates nationwide in the United States, as well as globally, has found a way to offer more meal options to Americans who are sheltering in place during the COVID-19 lockdown—and at the same time, boost its own revenue stream.

In an April 29 press release, the  South Carolina-based company announced, “The Denny’s Market is open and available for your at-home meal solutions.  Participating Denny’s locations throughout the country will now be offering Make-at-Home Meal Kits that include all the ingredients for a family meal with simple assembly instructions.”

With prices starting at $12.99,  meal kits include the following:

  • Complete Breakfast:Serves 4-6 and includes bacon strips, eggs, milk, biscuits or English muffins, grapes, strawberries, assorted jelly packets, and Signature Diner Blend Coffee with a variety of sweeteners;
  • Picnic Sandwich Serves 4-6 and includes deli shaved turkey, deli shaved ham, swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, one loaf of 7-grain bread, green leaf lettuce, whole tomatoes, red onion, mayo and mustard packets
  • Chicken & Rice Dinner: Serves 4 and includes chicken breasts, swiss cheese, mushrooms, onions, broccoli and whole grain rice packets
  • Slow-Cooked Pot Roast:Serves 6-8 and includes pot roast and gravy, broccoli, mashed potatoes, hoagie rolls and garlic spread
  • Apple Crisp Dessert:Serves 4-6 and includes one oven-ready tray of apple crisp, a quart of vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce

Additionally, at select locations across the country, the Denny’s Market is offering grocery staples such as bread, assorted meats and cheese, eggs, and toilet paper. Orders for pick-up or delivery can be placed online, through the Denny’s On Demand app or by phone. 

“Denny’s is committed to finding new and innovative ways to continue to feed our communities, especially during this time when we’re practicing social distancing and staying at home,” said John Dillon, chief brand officer for Denny’s. “We hope that our Denny’s Market meal kits and grocery program helps alleviate the need to go to overcrowded grocery stores and make mealtime a little easier.”

Research contact: @DennysDiner