SURVEY: Readers Talk About Living With COVID-19 - 27 East

SURVEY: Readers Talk About Living With COVID-19

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Main Street, Sag Harbor

Main Street, Sag Harbor

The Remsenburg-Speonk Elementary School had its new sign installed Thursday.

The Remsenburg-Speonk Elementary School had its new sign installed Thursday. Deborah A. Martel

Taylor Neill made decorative masks for Southampton Hospital nurses to wear over their protective masks.

Taylor Neill made decorative masks for Southampton Hospital nurses to wear over their protective masks.

Taylor Neill made decorative masks for Southampton Hospital nurses to wear over their protective masks.

Taylor Neill made decorative masks for Southampton Hospital nurses to wear over their protective masks.

Taylor Neill made decorative masks for Southampton Hospital nurses to wear over their protective masks.

Taylor Neill made decorative masks for Southampton Hospital nurses to wear over their protective masks.

Taylor Neill made decorative masks for Southampton Hospital nurses to wear over their protective masks.

Taylor Neill made decorative masks for Southampton Hospital nurses to wear over their protective masks.

The Falkowski family during quarantine.

The Falkowski family during quarantine. Courtesy Lynn Falkowski

The Falkowski family during quarantine.

The Falkowski family during quarantine. Courtesy Lynn Falkowski

authorBill Sutton on Apr 8, 2020

Most readers who responded to a recent emailed survey this week about the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact on their daily lives, said they were nervous but, at the same time, confident that things would work out for the best.

“I feel confident that I will be OK, as will my family, as long as we continue to follow instructions and take all of the necessary precautions,” one respondent, Amy, said in the survey that was answered by more than 700 readers.

When asked to rate her level of anxiety, on a scale of 1 to 10, Amy selected 6.

The question, which read, “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being ‘completely calm’ and 10 being ‘terrified,’ where are you when it comes to the COVID-19 crisis?” garnered 701 responses. The average of the responses was “5.”

A total of 148 readers selected 5; 74 selected 6, 108 gave it a 7 and 103 picked 8. The remainder of the responses were spread across the scale, with 44 selecting 1 and 18 people selecting 10.

Reader oneginlane, who answered “1,” said they were not nervous “Because I’m following the rules carefully, and especially keeping very clean hands.”

But reader Lexi0217, who answered with a “10,” said, “I feel this way because I personally have the underlining issues.”

Somewhere in the middle, reader ltorrado gave it a “6.”

“It seems extremely contagious. I just went through my mom dying from lung issues a few months ago, and this is hitting very close to home. I know firsthand what goes into helping a patient who can’t breathe, and it is a lot of intervention. Not being able to breathe is very scary and exhausting on one’s body,” they said.

Another reader, blpisick, answered with a “7,” noting, “Overwhelming number of people being infected. I am a nurse practitioner and have never witnessed anything like this.”

Another reader, valhoff3, offered a hopeful outlook. They responded with a “3,” saying, “Even though a pandemic is different than anything we’ve experienced before in this country (at least since 1918), life will resume. We have lived through recession and 9/11. We’ve just got to be patient with each other and with restriction for the good of our community.”

Emarks, who answered with an “8,” said they are plagued with the uncertainty of the situation and how it will be resolved.

“Am I or someone in my family going to have to interact with the hospital? Are we going to get it? Will pandemonium result when people have no money or can’t get food? How long can we all stay on lockdown? Will the economy recover? No sense of federal leadership. Great leadership from [Governor Andrew] Cuomo, but will we be able to manage the patient onslaught?” they asked.

Nanmckee54 said they were more concerned about family members than themselves. She scored an “8”: “The thing I fear the most is a family member will get the virus and no one in the family will be able to take care of them, and they will be alone.”

Readers taking part in the survey, which was sent to readers registered to receive various emails from paper, reported various methods for coping with the stress of the virus, from exercise routines to spending time with family to keeping busy working.

Many said turning off the TV news was paramount to staying calm, but binge-watching shows on streaming services seemed to help.

Faith was also a common theme. A large number reported overeating, as well.

“I take advantage of the beautiful place we live in by taking walks and going to the ocean,” jackiedunphy1 said. “I also try to stay positive by knowing this will be over eventually.”

“Cleaning the house, one room daily, as if Martha Stewart is coming over with the Pope,” one reader responded.

“My husband reads poetry. I watch HGTV or play solitaire online. Together, we watch On Demand comedy movies,” another said.

Experimenting in the kitchen was one reader’s distraction: “I am a cooking machine. I feel like I’m on ‘Chopped,’ making dishes I have not made before with stuff in the closet.”

Mdean329 said they are maintaining a positive attitude and trying to take the time for self-betterment: “Telling myself that this is America and not a horror movie. Fresh air and exercise by walking the dog or being out in the yard. Taking a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get in shape with no excuse.”

Faith and an optimistic attitude are very important to cam7391: “I pray a lot and try to stay positive,” they said. “I reach out to loved ones via the phone and on the internet. I always think of at least one thing to make me laugh. Laughter and faith are wonderful stress relievers!”

Seabreeze11968 has found some productive projects.

“I had Lynch’s Garden Center deliver seedling kits so I can have some spring vegetables. Listening to WLNG radio,” they said. “WLNG is very up to date with local information, and much more calming that cable news. Visited with my mom outside of her window, videotaped it and sent it to my family.”

Of the 695 readers who answered the question, 243, or about 35 percent, said they were losing work because of the outbreak. Many people said they were able to work from home, but were nervous about how long that would last.

One reader said they were using up unused vacation time and hoping the crisis would be over soon. Others said they were forced to dip into their savings.

Those readers not working said losing work was going to hurt, and hurt more depending on how long the crisis lasts.

“My child is to go to college in two years,” one reader said. “If i lose my job, that’s going to be hard. I’m not young anymore, and it will be really hard to find a new job. It’s scary.”

“It will be a long time getting back to normal,” one reader said. “Hard to say right now.”

One reader, Mary, said she would weather the storm but was concerned about her family: “We will be seriously affected financially … Please understand that we’re over 70 … and unconcerned about ourselves. We’re concerned about our kids who really depend on us to help them out.”

Many readers said that while they are still working, they have faced salary reductions, which put a strain on their budgets.

“I haven’t lost work,” one reader wrote, “but I have lost wages. It makes it harder to pay bills, to feel secure.”

Many readers, however, remained optimistic about the future, like haskell, who noted, “I’m getting other things done now and will work harder when it’s over.”

“I will most likely lose my business if this continues until August or September,” another reader, Douglas, said. “But I will not let that stop me from what is the right thing to do for our community.”

To a question about how people were filling their days, the answers varied, and while many people reported trying to follow a routine early on, admitted to falling off over time.

“Started out solid with organized schedules and classes. Slowly becoming less structured and more free form,” one reader wrote.

“I go from my night pajamas to my day pajamas, try contacting unemployment, no avail after 300 attempts. And just wait for things to change,” Christopher wrote.

Remaining positive was key to staying calm and happy, many wrote.

“I am tending to long-overdue chores and that is satisfying. The blooming of flowers and trees is a gift that came at a good time amidst all the unknowns. I am trying to hold onto what is really important,” another reader said.

“It’s a challenge working from home with a 3-year-old grandchild around, but she is also a blessing in keeping me occupied with positive thoughts,” one reader, Lisa, wrote. “I’m trying to keep as much of a daily routine as possible, but she misses the interaction of other children and her friends in daycare. I put a toy roller-coaster in the living room so that she has something to keep her more physically active while she’s cooped up more at home.”

One reader said that following a routine was helpful: “We start every day by following a routine: make the bed, wash our hands and face, and follow the same routine. But now, we get outside for fresh air as soon as we can. We walk as often as possible and look/listen for signs of spring. We talk about current events, neighbors, family, scenery and don’t dwell on the bad news. Life goes on and we remain optimistic!!”

Many people took time to recognize the work of “local heroes,” volunteers and healthcare workers on the front-lines, fighting the outbreak.

“A big thanks to all the heroes — hospital employees, grocery employees, first responders, etc. Everyone who is working and putting themselves in jeopardy,” Madison wrote.

“All the people who work in gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies, etc., are brave and I truly appreciate all they’re doing! They deserve hazard pay!” ktuffy added.

To the question of what readers have learned during this unusual time, responses ranged from the positive (“I can cope with a crisis better than I thought I could”) to the negative (“People can be very greedy and selfish”).

Reader dpuntillo’s lessons ran the gamut as well: “That toilet paper is worth it’s weight in gold. To not take a fully stocked supermarket for granted. That people are weird.”

And sometimes, according to reader ktuffy, both sides of a coin are evident even within onself.

“You see the best of people and the worst of people, and sometimes you see both of those within yourself, which is unnerving,” they wrote. “For example, I always saw myself as a good person, but my first instinct was to be selfish in getting food and supplies for my family.”

Feelings of community were evident in many of the responses, like one from reader plplpj, who wrote: “That the most important thing is to love one another and to work at helping friends and family to survive this pandemic.”

Or arouff, who noted, “We Americans share more then separates us. We can overcome anything.”

Cardioblue19 said they are learning not to take the simple things for granted: “That we don’t appreciate all the things that we have until it’s taken from us, such as simply going to the park, library, grabbing a coffee or simply going to work without fear. That health is more important, and being with your loves ones.”

Wilson49 said they have discovered a new level of gratitude.

“I’ve never had to face the idea of dying so closely before,” they said. “Sure makes me appreciate every day I’m still healthy.”

Another reader has learned to appreciate the closeness they used to experience through physical contact: “I’ve also learned that we need each other desperately. In other times of national (or international) emergency or disaster, we could physically turn to each other and we could talk, cry, hug and support each other physically. But there’s something so unnatural about being physically separated from your community that is so unsettling. Thank goodness for technology!”

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