Social distancing in Everett; not cracking up to be what we expected

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Everett’s Panera Bread is open but it looks closed. Like all other food purveyors, only take-out is allowed. (Photo by Josh Resnek)

Are we missing something here?

By Josh Resnek

Noontime Monday I took ride down Lewis Street to number 86, the home of Councilor Wayne Matewsky and his mother Marion.

Matewsky and his mother, and her caretaker, Celia O’Brien came onto the front porch for a photograph defining social distancing.

Marion Matewsky, in her 90’s, and O’Brien, both wearing masks, stood by one another for the photo. Wayne Matewsky stood below them next to the American flag.

Matewsky wasn’t wearing a facemask but he remained a good eight feet away from his mother and her caretaker.

We didn’t shake hands. We traded elbow hellos which has become a replacement for shaking hands.

This is how its done when you are paying attention to life in the age of Coronavirus.

“It is unimaginable our lives have come down to this,” said Wayne Matewsky. “How else are we going to beat this virus? Social distancing isn’t everything, but it is a big step toward containing the virus,” he said.

At other locations throughout the city, dozens of people in dozens of places worked close inside with one another or worked and shopped at large businesses.

At many food outlets that remained open – restaurants turned into food to go outlets – lots of people were coming and going, walking into the locations, picking up their plastic bags with food, and getting into their automobiles and driving away.

To go food takes much of the risk out of contracting the virus, but not all the risk.

The person preparing the food could be infected without knowing it. Germs could be alive on the plastic bag. Touch the germs and get them on your fingers and hands and then you catch the virus.

Supermarkets, McKinnons, Stop and Shop, Market Basket and Cosco attracted hundreds of shoppers all mingling at close quarters.

For the paranoid and the germaphobes among us, a visit to those places can be terrifying.

The risk of contracting the virus where so many people are at close quarters shopping, touching everything, touching the baskets as well as the food and then taking them home…this is a prescription to get sick if you visit these places enough.

And what about the hundreds of employees stocking the shelves and working the registers?

If the virus doesn’t get you, shopping to stay alive will.

At Walgreens hundreds of customers in a steady line all morning and afternoon crowded the giant pharmacies at both Glendale Square and on Broadway near to the Central Fire Station.

Again, if you were a stranger from a strange land and didn’t know a virus was causing an epidemic, you would have thought it was just another day to do some shopping.

There is a disconnect between having to shop and having to remain free of the virus.

On the one hand the population of the city has been told to restrict all their outside movements and to stay away from people at a distance everywhere.

On the other hand, thousands end up shopping in supermarkets and pharmacies, in corner stores and small eateries reduced to take-out, and on construction sites where it tends to look like business as usual, as though it is safe.

Many in the supermarkets have taken to wearing masks while doing their shopping.

This writer wears gloves while shopping. I make every effort to stay away from others and to touch nothing with my bare hands – but even the gloves can get us in trouble if we do not remove them when we arrive home and wash our hands thoroughly and wash or dispose of the gloves after that.

There’s the rub.

We can all socially distance ourselves.

We can all stay inside our apartments or homes or be by ourselves in our closed business places.

Eventually, we all have to shop.

Having your food delivered doesn’t end the danger of contracting the virus by going to the store.

What if the delivery person handing you your food has the virus? What are we supposed to do to remain safe?

We’d all have to treat this epidemic as the deadly serious matter that it is.
To do otherwise is to play with our health, and possibly, to play with our lives.

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