Life is about balance. We balance our time, our budgets, our work, and our family. If you concentrate too much in one area, you will soon be wanting in another. Additionally, our bodies are constantly working to keep our blood pressure, blood sugar, and temperature in balance.
Covid-19 disrupted our balance, both in our lives and for some, in our bodies. It overwhelmed some communities with too many people who became sick. Other communities banded together (or rather, apart) to slow the virus and protect the most vulnerable.
Thankfully, many areas have been successful at slowing the spread and flattening the curve, avoiding the tidal wave of sick people filling the hospitals. However, this came with a great cost to the balance in our economy, our social interactions, and our normal way of life. It revealed and magnified numerous problems. It exposed disparities in healthcare, and it provoked supply chain issues, food chain issues, unemployment, poverty, and misinformation.
People have many needs in addition to safety. People often need work not only for money for food and shelter, but also for fulfilment and purpose. People often need other people because we are inherently social creatures who thrive from being there for others, providing words of encouragement, or a caring shoulder to lean on, or an embrace.
Living with Covid-19 around us requires a new balance that may change over time. While it would be wonderful, reducing cases to zero is probably not realistic for a while. Meanwhile, our communities need economic activity and we need social interactions. Thus, some people are venturing out more and businesses are reopening. Some places are doing this more cautiously than others.
We need to get creative and adjust our expectations of normal for a while. Our elders and those with high risk conditions may not be safe or feel safe, so we should do what we can to help them. Washing hands, wearing masks and being mindful of the distance between us are not perfect but are still the best forms of protection for now.
No one knows what the future holds. Perhaps reopening the economy will increase our cases of Covid-19, and perhaps not. Perhaps the virus will dissipate over the summer months. If it re-emerges in the fall, will we be ready? Will we plan and use this time to prepare? Will we again work together to protect our fellow man? Let’s use this time wisely and find our new balance.
(Andrew Ellsworth, MD is part of The Prairie Doc team of physicians and currently practices family medicine in Brookings.)