Let’s not let COVID-19 steal our humanity

Many years ago, I was living in the mountains of Northern California when we had a big winter storm.

The snow was measured in feet, and our power was out. PG&E said it might take as long as a week before it would be restored.

The main road was plowed, but not the private road we lived on. It wasn’t far to the main road, but it was too far for us to shovel our way out.

I learned then that your world closes in very fast when you are homebound. Wars, legislative decisions and other concerns became abstract background noise. And after a heavy snow like that, it gets very quiet — no TV, no radios, no wi-fi and no refrigerators. Just the far off sound of generators.

A few of our neighbors had generators. Some were kind enough to store food for us so it didn’t spoil, and we ate what could be cooked on a grill or camp stove.

Our world had closed in.

This pandemic reminds me a little of that experience, but it’s also very different. Then, we could all gather in front of a fire together and talk, like humans do. The only masks around were ski masks.

These days, I haven’t worn shoes in over a week, and my morning commute is about 30 feet. Those are the immediate benefits of working from home.

This virus we are facing, known in formal circles as SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes, known by its more familiar name of COVID-19, is not the flu. Not by a long shot. This one packs a punch. It’s killed more than 100,000 Americans, including more than 1,500 Texans, and it’s not done yet.
(I’m not going to get into how it’s been handled; there is plenty to read on that subject.)

I’ll admit, I’m scared. I’m in a high risk group, and I don’t want to die yet. And I certainly do not want to die on a ventilator alone, with no opportunity to say “goodbye” to those I love most.

Have you seen some of the symptoms that keep popping up? Sure, there is the common respiratory distress, fever, chills and cough. But there is also the situation where your blood oxygen level drops dangerously low, but you don’t realize it. There are patients that feel fine one minute, then crash and die shortly after. There’s purple toe, kidney damage, unexplained heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, lung damage, pneumonia, central nervous system damage with loss of smell and taste and … .

It seems as if they are finding more every day.

This thing is different. It’s scary. Treatments are sketchy and experimental, There is no cure and, so far, no vaccine.

So, excuse me if I give you stink-eye for not wearing a mask in the grocery store.

I was asked recently if I had noticed more acts of compassion during this global crisis. It broke my heart to say, “I don’t know.” It’s been spotty. Sure, healthcare workers and first responders are doing their jobs heroically. But outside of TV, I haven’t come into contact with them — yet. There have been food drives and fundraisers, and I’m proud of the work nonprofits are doing.

But we need more than delivering Happy Meals to people who are fighting for our (and their) lives!

Mostly, what I’m seeing are either people in an almost trancelike state, or those who are acting selfishly.

At least now, I’m finally seeing paper products back in stores from the great toilet paper rush of 2020.

But it would be nice to see people wearing a mask when they aren’t forced to. I’m worried that the latest symptom of the pandemic is a loss of our humanity.

Back in January, our country was divided; today, it still is. I’m not seeing ANY of the unification like what happened after 9/11. The venom on social media either praises Trump or vilifies him.

I think he’s OK with it either way as long as his name is in there somewhere. But for the rest of us, we don’t know who is behind those masks. Hero or villain? Friend or foe?

The pandemic has also divided us into frightened high risk groups vs. protest groups jammed together calling it all a hoax.

The worst part for me is I don’t know of a solution. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said recently that Dallas County (nor any other county) can’t compel people to wear masks or limit church attendance. Well guess what: Some of us don’t want to die for your freedom to not wear a mask!

The internet has brought such a variety of entertainment to us, but before COVID-19, there were very few shared experiences like there were when I was little. Back then, everyone watched the Beatles on

The Ed Sullivan Show. Now, it’s hard to find that common thread. I mean, I love the show Killing Eve but have to sift through friends to find one who has seen it or is at a different binge stage than I am.
We finally have an experience in common with all of mankind: COVID-19 and the pandemic. This thing doesn’t give a *&% who you are. None of us are immune. So let’s band together; we have a common enemy we should all agree on. Let’s help each other now, even if we can’t get within six feet of one another. Please, if ever there were a time, this is it.

Let’s not let SARS-CoV-2 steal our humanity, our kindness, our empathy.

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com.