Tags Posts tagged with "social distancing"

social distancing

Pexel photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

What do we do when we meet someone new in 2021 IRL, or, to the 12 uninitiated readers, “in real life?”

Well, for starters, we can’t and shouldn’t shake hands. That ritual is probably long gone. Maybe the Japanese were right with bowing. If handshakes are out, hugs, even for those we might have been speaking to for months during the isolated pandemic, are absolutely forbidden.

If we can’t hug grandma, grandpa and other relatives we’ve known most or all of our lives, we certainly can’t hug, even casually, someone new.

Ideally, we’d stand somewhere between six and 60 feet away from them, especially if we’re inside. That could be problematic for people who can’t hear all that well and who don’t have the benefit of reading anyone’s lips anymore. 

In fact, I’m thinking of going into the business of selling those Mission Impossible voice changers. If you’ve seen the movies, you know that the Tom Cruise teams can change their voices to sound like everyone else. Most of us who have heard our own voices on voicemail would like a few moments to sound more like James Earl Jones or Scarlett Johansson. Maybe we like our own voice, but we’d prefer to have a British, Australian or New Zealand accent. We could change our accents, the way we change the navigational voice on Siri and ask people if they know where we’re pretending we were raised.

Now, what we discuss is a bit tricky in the hypersensitive, polarized world of 2021. Someone who’s walking a dog most likely would be happy to talk about their four-footed companion. 

I’ve been surprised by the type of questions and information people seek when they talk about my dog. People have asked not only how old he is, but also how much he weighs, as if dogs around his size are in some kind of modeling contest. Fortunately, my dog doesn’t seem particularly concerned about his weight, as he demonstrates regularly with a feverish appetite for everything from broccoli to french fries to cat vomit. Yes, he eats cat vomit, which means that if I cook something he won’t eat, he thinks it tastes worse than cat vomit, a notion that delights my teenage children.

Now, if you’re thinking about politics, you probably should keep that to yourself. Unless someone is wearing a MAGA hat or has some version of Dump Trump on a T-shirt, it’s tough to know where they stand on the plate tectonic sized political divide.

We can talk about sports, but we run the risk of someone telling us how irrelevant sports is in the modern world during a pandemic or how they wish they could return to the age when sports mattered.

Children seem like fair game, although we have to watch out for many age-related minefields. 

My son, for example, is a senior in high school. Some parents are happy to tell you all the colleges that accepted and rejected their children, while others are content to share what city or even what coast intrigues their progeny, as in, “yes, my son has only applied to schools on the East Coast or in states with fewer than seven letters” (there are nine states in that category, by the way).

So, where does that leave us in the strange world where we’re all putting on masks before we go into a bank (imagine taking a time machine from 1999 and seeing those entering a bank without masks getting into trouble?) Well, the weather is often safe, as are dogs, the disruption the pandemic caused and, generally speaking, children.

Maddie (dressed as a shark), Laura and Joseph Mastriano get ready for a night of social distancing bingo on Facebook Live. Photo from Laura Mastriano

A Stony Brook event planner and her family are using their downtime to channel their creative energy through a classic game — bingo.

As nonessential businesses were mandated to shut down via executive order by state Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) back in March, Laura Mastriano, founder of L.A. Productions Events, found herself with some extra time on her hands. Throughout the year, she plans weddings, birthday parties and other events for clients, including TBR News Media’s Cooks, Books & Corks and the Three Village Kids Lemonade Stand that was founded by her children Joseph and Maddie.

Mastriano said conversations about possible event postponements began early with clients when news of the coronavirus hitting the U.S. first spread. Even early in March, a venue owner told her they couldn’t go ahead with a communion she was planning in May.

“It’s a lot to swallow, but I’m trying to stay as positive as possible,” Mastriano said.

What helps her stay positive, she added, is holding on to knowing that one day everyone will want to celebrate outside of their homes again. 

The Facebook Live bingo came about when she wanted to think of something to keep busy for a while. She also realized that her parents, Rich and Terri Adell, wouldn’t be able to visit her family regularly, and she wanted to keep connected with them.

“Part of this bingo was for them to have something to do,” the event planner said, adding now that soon many others were tuning in to see what the Mastrianos had come up with as a theme and how the family decorated the bingo table and its surroundings.

Every night for more than 40 days, Mastriano, Maddie and Joseph have dressed up and led the bingo games, while the event planner’s husband, Joe, is behind the camera. Each night they chose a different theme. The event planner said she finds inspiration from her storage shed where she has items from past events tucked away. She said one piece of foam board has been used and repurposed to fit the many themes the family has used.

“I’m trying to be as resourceful as possible,” she said, adding that planning the live streaming events has also been therapeutic.

The family has included themes such as  Disney, circus, the 1980s, gaming and more. An April 26 football-themed bingo game attracted nearly 300 players, many who commented on their favorite past football games.

Mastriano said her daughter has been wearing a shark costume that incorporates the evening’s theme and has become known as Sharkie, while her son has been keeping track of the items called off the bingo card. Her husband will read off the names of those participating in the Facebook Live and their comments during the event. Sometimes, she said, the family’s English bulldog Phoebe will even make an appearance dressed up in the theme just like the rest of the family.

Mastriano said her parents have invited their friends to come play, and her mother and best friend in Georgia will spend the day planning out what to wear and taking selfies of themselves all dressed up. Many other family members and friends have also joined in the fun and are finding old photos of themselves that fit the theme and share to the event planner’s social media page.

To participate, game players visit Mastriano’s Facebook page earlier in the day to find out the theme and print out the game card. Participants have even been making their own game cards when they don’t have a printer.

The event planner said the family will continue to have the bingo games until the end of the mandatory closings. She has been pleased with everyone’s positive responses, but she knows it can’t compare to what others have been doing.

“Compared to the amount of work that everyone else is putting in out there, like all the first responders, this is nothing,” Mastriano said. “Our goal in this whole thing is to just provide a smile, a small distraction and hopefully provide a little fun.”

Photo from METRO

In medicine, there is the concept of triage. Essentially, it is prioritization, the assignment of degrees of injury or illnesses that necessitates hard decisions. When resources are limited, and when the number of patients is staggering, medical teams often need to focus on who is in most dire straits. Beyond that, however even more morose, it is prioritizing patients that medical professionals believe can be saved and those who are more likely to die. 

It is not a healthy subject to think long and hard about if you’re not on the front lines of fighting the virus. It is something doctors have learned to do in war zones and during great hardships.

If things do not go smoothly, and if hospitals don’t have the correct amount of resources, personal protective devices, hospital beds and ventilators, then once we reach the peak number of cases, that is where events could lead. 

Photo from METRO

One of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) most recent and most controversial acts as of Friday, April 3, was to sign an executive order saying they would take necessary equipment like ventilators from hospitals upstate which have seen relatively few cases and transport them to the hospitals in the most need. 

That is in itself a sort of triage, a step to prioritize who needs such medical items the most. To say some hospitals, such as Stony Brook University Hospital, which was cited by Cuomo as a coronavirus hot spot, need more resources is to say they will be the ones who will be keeping even more people from dying from the virus. 

People are helping these hospital workers in any way they can. We have seen local businesses and business groups band together to offer food for hospital and EMS workers. We have seen local residents create masks and other personal protective equipment from cloth they had at home. Libraries have come together to 3D print necessary PPE in the form of face shields. We have seen so much good come from our North Shore and Suffolk County community.

But on the smaller end, with the people who are simply staying at home, we have to recognize just how much good that has done.

Cuomo recently stated they are hopeful we may be reaching the plateau in the number of cases New York is seeing. It won’t be the end of the issues. We will likely have to remain isolated for several more weeks, but the amount of good social distancing has done is evident. People simply staying at home, getting the exercise when they can and not shaking hands has likely prevented an even greater overload of New York’s medical systems.

Many people are feeling burdened with a sense they are doing nothing. They are out of work, and they have nothing on their plate. It’s a malaise that settles deep, and we should all be thinking of the people who did not have money at the start of this pandemic, and now have even less since being out of a job.

New York will have to grapple with that. We Long Islanders should not feel like we have simply wasted time in languishing at home. This is society in action, with many thousands of people making sacrifices for the whole. It’s a sort of triage of the self and of society, finding what is more important and focusing on that. We should focus on the people who mean most to us, our friends and family. We should focus on the people who are in the most need and attempt to reach them and offer whatever kind of support. And at the same time, we should focus on ourselves, rest and take some time to think. When this whole thing comes around, all that time we spent in our homes will not have been wasted. It will mean a society that has learned to care for others in a time of crisis.