Living in Society


2021 Garlic Patch.

Even with advances in electronic communication, those of us who take the coronavirus pandemic seriously have become increasingly isolated. Not everyone takes their chances of contracting COVID-19 seriously, which complicates things.

In Iowa, the governor’s approach to containing the virus has been mostly voluntary. The results speak for themselves. Last week the Iowa Department of Public Health released a White House coronavirus task force report. The Des Moines Register reported:

“Iowa continues to see more than twice as many coronavirus infections as the national average,” White House officials warned. “Community transmission has remained high across the state for the past month, with many preventable deaths.”

Since Governor Kim Reynolds’ March 9 Disaster Proclamation, more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 have been identified (three percent of the population), and 1,471 people died from the disease. Mitigation of the coronavirus is not going well in Iowa.

Yesterday, while visiting the county seat to get bicycle parts, about nine in ten people wore a face mask on the streets, a marked improvement reflecting the seriousness of the pandemic. More generally, Iowa is not reporting similar face mask usage.

A retired physician sent some 3M-brand N95 masks. Their spouse, who is a practicing physician, couldn’t get an adequate supply at work so they purchased them in bulk. It’s a sad state of affairs when front-line medical workers, who deal with coronavirus infected patients daily, can’t get an adequate supply of personal protective equipment seven months into the pandemic.

Many of us are not afraid of the virus. We’re following the recommendations of experts, which is to stay at home as much as possible and wear a mask while practicing good hygiene in public. The stay at home part sucks.

It’s not that there isn’t work to do at home. I haven’t been to a restaurant since March, all social events were called off or restructured to maintain social distancing, and emails, phone calls and text messages have increased dramatically. Meetings are conducted on line using Zoom or Google Meet, or via conference call. It’s not the same as meeting in person, shaking hands, interacting with other humans. If the logistics of meetings are much improved, the personal nature of them is diminished. There is no end of the pandemic in sight.

In the spring my work at the farm was isolated from the rest of the crew because I was the only worker living off the farm. Moving most workers on-site was their reaction to staying COVID-19 free. The plan is working. I gave up my part-time retail job at the home, farm and auto supply store in April, and didn’t go back to the orchard in August. Retirement was forced upon me by the pandemic. My new potential cohort of retired seniors is not getting together as they once had. I wasn’t ready to give up the human interaction of the workplace, yet did in response to the risks of continuing.

I spend some time with neighbors who joke about wearing their Trump campaign face masks. They know I’m supporting Joe Biden and I’m used to the friendly political interaction. We don’t discuss politics that much. When one family’s child brought COVID-19 home from school, a pall fell on the neighborhood.

With winter approaching, 2021 looks to be isolating. I planted garlic last week and went to the metropolis to get straw bales for winter cover. Like the garlic cloves just planted, we are alive and and ready to spring to life when conditions are right. For the time being, we are isolated.