I would like to thank the people who have offered comfort for my fear, fear related to Attila having to return to the workplace, being at high-risk-for-complications, and Covid-19. Your feedback and warmth are very much appreciated!
Fear is a healthy response to danger, the danger is real, I value my response because it facilitates staying alive. Fear keeps us sanitizing, keeping our distance from people, ensuring a healthy diet, regular exercise, getting enough sleep (working on that!), and taking the every day precautions needed to keep the virus out of our lives. When Attila was off work, these fears were fairly easily managed, we had a great deal of control and agency.
Fear is a little more challenging to deal with when Attila goes to work, where he does not control where he stands, where other people stand, who is in the washroom when he is in the washroom, who enters the building, if someone forgets to put their mask up after bringing it down after being in an isolated area, what kinds of risky behaviour (e.g. family parties, we see them all around us) other workers are participating in, well there are just too many variables that we either have no control over, or no knowledge of. So it is going to take more time to develop a workable system of denial about the risks, what kinds of information to push to the back on one’s mind and ignore for the sake of sanity, and what kinds of information require research, consideration, and even action. This will take some time, and is subject to constant ongoing change as the workplace evolves in various ways, e.g. a change in tasks and juxtapositions of fellow workers. This fear is a dance with danger; it isn’t comfortable, nor should it be. This is much more difficult for Attila than it is for me, in that it makes being in the workplace very high stress. My challenge is to deal with the feelings of helplessness that accompany the fear, and as I watch Attila look increasingly pinched and tired with each passing day.
Attila’s workplace is certainly not as high risk an environment as a long-term care home, but it is as high risk as some of the manufacturing plants that have experienced outbreaks and shut downs. His employers have now responded to the health threats with altered and safer work stations, temperature and symptom monitoring, mandatory masks supplied by the company, a lot of hand cleaning stations, and other measures. Although this is reassuring, and one cannot imagine what further precautions they might take, it is not a guarantee against contracting the virus from an infected individual, in the enclosed spaces where they all work.
It is my opinion that a way to reduce the death rate (per capita) in Canada is for the federal government to offer the option of early retirement with full pension to individuals who have comorbidities that put them in danger for complications, and are 60 or over. This group, between 60 and 65, with comorbidities, has to work to pay the bills and survive. This group is not receiving the protective measures that I think are necessary for their particular situation. This would free jobs for younger people who feel they are facing little to no risk. Companies need the support of the federal government to offer such a choice to this compromised older group of employees. (I have suggested this to our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.)
Of course, the focus on the tragic profit based, long-term care home situation is paramount, but the additional measure I suggest would allow many vulnerable people to remove themselves from the workplace, stay out of harms way, flatten the curve, and reduce the death rate per capita for Covid-19.
The New England Journal of Medicine has an interesting opinion piece on this issue:
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Thursday 4 June 2020
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Dew point: 15.0°C
Wind: SW 13 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“It is only prudent never to place complete confidence in that by which we have even once been deceived.”
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