The Etiquette of Social Distancing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Etiquette of Social Distancing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

STEVE ASHMORE: What is your social distancing etiquette? - Opinion ...

We are two months into life in the age of COVID-19 and it’s getting more complicated. Right as many of us were getting used to staying distanced, staying home, and staying in, some states and areas are relaxing restrictions. It isn’t life as it used to be, and it’s inconsistent across the nation. As we all try to figure out what relaxing measures means and what we are comfortable with, we’ve also embraced full on what life via video chat and living six feet apart can be like. Like normal humans, we all have questions, concerns, pet peeves, opinions and of course mute buttons that malfunction.

 

Before we dive into Etiquette in the Age of COVID-19 we would like to start by saying:

The threat of the novel coronavirus is still present. Until we have a vaccine or until we’ve gotten a handle on this virus’ impact on us, we are going to see requests, and requirements to physically distance ourselves and use personal protective measures like masks and hand washing regularly. It has changed our social behavior and it will continue to change our social behavior as communities find ways to interact safely. These new social measures can feel incredibly awkward and at times impolite, but you are not alone in feeling that way about them. Everyone is learning and figuring this out as we go.

Safety is the guideline right now and measures that we take to protect ourselves and others are right in line with the Emily Post principles of etiquette: consideration, respect, and honesty.

To find more information about the virus, it’s spread and what precautions and measures to take please visit:

The Center For Disease Control website   — https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html  

The World Health Organization website  — https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 

As well as your state or local department of health.

Safety First

When we think about what advice to give, we think first about safety and then about how to be kind and considerate and respectful when trying to be safe. Safety comes before etiquette. This doesn’t mean we toss consideration, respect, and honesty out the window. Far from it, we’ve seen how doing so can lead to tragically bad and completely unnecessary things happening. What it means is that how we interact and what is deemed “polite” or “acceptable” behavior will change during this time. Let’s look at some of the basics to consider here and for specific topics see these articles:

Zoom/Video Call Etiquette for Socializing (coming soon)

Zoom/Video Call Etiquette for Work (coming soon)

Weddings in the Age of COVID19

Navigating Hanging Out Together Apart (coming soon)

 

PHYSICAL DISTANCING

We are all familiar with the term “social distancing” by now. And many are encouraging the use of the phrase “physical distancing” instead which helps people to imagine a less isolated solution. Our goal for physical distancing is that when out and about in public or when socializing with those we don’t live with, we keep ourselves – or our family group – at least 6 feet away from others when possible.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. We’ve all navigated a tight aisle at a store, an elevator or stairwell, or a friend leaning in too closely despite feeling awkward. But what is the right thing to do?

 

Speak Up

We get asked, more than anything else through our podcast and media interviews, how do you speak up when something is wrong, or bothering you? It’s not an easy thing to do. How you do it makes a huge difference to how well it’s received, but it’s not a magic key. You can never predict someone else’s reaction, especially that of a stranger. So our first piece of advice is and always will be to seek the help of someone in charge if the scenario provides such a person. A manager, usher, flight attendant, host, or whomever is in charge, can have the authority to help you and can also ensure that you aren’t dealing with someone alone. That being said, you don’t do this as a way to punish someone else, it’s to make sure a concern is raised, or that help or safety can be achieved.

If someone at a store hasn’t given you enough space to pass or reach the item you’d like, then a friendly “Mind giving me just a little more space so I can pass [or grab that item] safely?” You want to have an upbeat tone to your delivery, no edge whatsoever (think that person you know who is always upbeat, or sounds cheerful and if no one comes to mind think: how would Glinda the Good Witch, Dr. Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, the CW’s Superman say it?). If the person scoffs at you, you can either pass anyway keeping as much distance as possible, wait until they move farther away, or go get something else and come back later.

 

Other phrases that are being heard and used when out and about to manage distancing:

Excuse me Sir, the line starts back there, everyone’s just distanced.

(while stepping back) Sorry I’m trying to keep 6 feet away.

Excuse me, I was next.

I’ll wait and catch the next elevator.

After you, please. (said genuinely)

Do you mind giving us just a little bit more space please, (hopefully followed by a: thank you so much)

A little space please.

Flow of Traffic

While following the guidance of the arrows and directions through stores is always important, it’s not worth getting into an altercation over. Either pass, doing what you can keep your distance, or go back the other way if the aisle isn’t crowded. Don’t make a stand when there are other safe options.

Public Outdoor Spaces

When it comes to public outdoor spaces it’s important to respect any distancing guides that have been put in place whether it’s marked areas to lounge or workout in, or directions for flow of traffic. Remember that even though you’re spaced apart from others, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze as well as not coughing, sneezing, singing, or yelling in the direction of others is helpful.

When trying to create physical distance on sidewalks, recreational paths and trails, you’re still trying to aim for six feet (about two adult arm lengths) apart. It’s really thoughtful if you’re a group or family out together to consider dropping to single file when passing others to help make room.

If it’s easy for you to be the person to step off the path or into the street (because you aren’t, using a walking or mobility aid, managing a frisky dog, balancing a toddler and a baby carriage or are on foot rather than wheels) to create space by all means make the move and do so early so that the other person doesn’t even have to guess at it.

 

Greetings

Greetings continue to feel lacking during this strange time. Despite wonderfully bright and cheery waves, mini dances, hops, and skips when we meet, we miss hugs and solid handshakes, high fives, and fist bumps. Greetings that involve touching are still not recommended at this time, so perfect your waves (you know your “professional wave”, your “zoom-meeting wave”, your “I-love-you-Grandma wave”, your “I-haven’t-seen-you-and-I’m-trying-so-hard-not-to-hug-you wave”) and use your tone of voice to match the occasion.

 

WEARING MASKS

While masks are causing a lot of divisiveness, when combined with physical distancing wearing a mask in public can greatly reduce the risk of spread. Wearing masks may be around for a while so it’s best to try and get used to what it’s like to interact with them on. Since most people are wearing cotton or medical masks and few have clear plastic ones allowing their full face to be seen we are more often than not without many facial cues.

Smiling (anyway), and using your eyes (cue acting skills from every medical show ever for inspiration) and hands to gesture will be the way to connect while wearing masks.

Masks unfortunately also muffle the sound of our voice and so it’s important to get comfortable speaking up, especially when in a noisy store or on a loud street. While you don’t want to shout to the point of sounding unnatural or making the listener uncomfortable, you do need to literally speak up to be heard. If you don’t, often the other person will lean in to hear you, and then you end up stepping back to recreate some space. It’s a odd dance but it happens often.

As we move into figuring out dining indoors and patio dining scenarios be prepared to see people storing their masks in a paper bag or envelope while eating. Some places may place plastic shields between tables or even at tables depending on the restaurant and local requirements.

Wearing masks outdoors is not a bad idea if you’re passing frequently while out on rec paths and trails or in the park or on the sidewalks of your neighborhood. Many choose to “mask when they pass” and let their mask down while on long stretches without others or when there’s more than enough room to pass without any worry. (According to this article in the New York Times, you’re more likely to encounter an issue for yourself if you have prolonged time indoors without masks on than if you pass someone outdoors without a mask on.)

If you’re uncomfortable when you encounter someone without a mask on resist the urge to glare or tsk at them. Do what you can to keep yourself physically distanced and avoid interacting instead. Remember you can only control yourself as best you can. There will be times when it doesn’t go perfectly and even though that can cause stress and anxiety, which often lead to rudeness, arming ourselves with kindness and avoiding judgement of others is good etiquette.

CONTACT TRACING

Contact tracing – tracing the virus’ spread through individuals who have tested positive or been around those who tested positive for COVID-19 – is happening at different rates throughout the country, but early indications show that contact tracing by businesses and through events that we attend may become commonplace. Many places already use your phone number or email address to contact you about tickets or a reservation or even a purchase so it’s not unfamiliar. But to have it be connected to our health when visiting a restaurant can feel very different. While we don’t know yet exactly how contact tracing will impact our personal social gatherings (birthday parties, showers, weddings…) or our public socializing (bars, sports, groups, restaurants…) we are considering the possibility that in the future a host’s to-do list list, or advice for making a restaurant reservation for a work lunch might involve contact info for potential contact tracing follow ups.

 

BE COMPASSIONATE

We cannot emphasize this enough right now. These are extraordinary times and there are so many ways this virus is impacting all of us. Especially when it comes to how we are mentally handling the longevity of this pandemic. You don’t know what is affecting someone’s life making the current threat even worse (financially, emotionally, physically). It’s important to respect people where they are at, and not blow off their concerns or drive fear where it doesn’t need to be.

Many of us are so fortunate to have so many ways to connect to help get us through this crisis together, but loneliness and anxiety are still huge concerns. Reaching out to one another. Being patient and kind with each other. Listening to one another. Respecting one another. Helping those in need. These are the kinds of attitudes and actions that will carry us through. They often cost us nothing, and yet they can make an impactful difference.

 

 

 

 

Executive Orders won’t cut it. Congress needs to make a deal.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-executive-orders-wont-cut-it-congress-needs-to-make-a-deal/2020/08/08/3ad733d4-d98e-11ea-9c3b-dfc394c03988_story.html

One $1,200 stimulus check won't cut it. Give Americans $2,000 a ...

AN INK-BLOT test of sorts on the U.S. economic situation, the July unemployment numbers can be seen optimistically or pessimistically. The jobless rate of 10.2 percent and the net total of new jobs created of 1.76 million were both slightly better than forecast. At the same time, the rate of recovery was slower than in June, when 4.8 million jobs came back.

The rational response for both Democrats and the White House is to stay focused on the big picture: however you look at last month, total employment is 13 million below what it was in February, the last full month before pandemic-related business shutdowns began. The economy remains too weak to recover its lost ground without another substantial injection of federal money.

Yet an impasse continues between congressional Democrats, who previously passed a $3.4 trillion package, and the White House, whose position is in flux but was at least partly defined in a $1.1 trillion bill unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last month. In hindsight, everyone would have been better off if Mr. McConnell had engaged earlier this year. Sensing the national political tide flowing their way, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) are driving a hard bargain, refusing, for now, to compromise on a key issue: how to renew the $600-per-week unemployment insurance (UI) supplement.

President Trump, desperate for negotiating leverage, and a political comeback, announced Saturday that he was resorting to executive action to impose a scaled-back version of UI, renewing the supplement at a reduced rate. The president also said he intends to suspend the payroll tax, beginning next month, which even Republicans in Congress regard as an ineffective trickle of relief. Even if Mr. Trump can be do these things lawfully — a doubtful proposition — they are likely to create more uncertainty at a time when the economy, and the country, need the opposite. Congress should continue working toward a permanent fix on UI and other pressing needs.

Those needs are clear and far from fully addressed by Mr. Trump’s unilateral action: a renewal of unemployment benefits at an elevated rate without disincentives to work; help to state and local governments ; support for small businesses; money for safe school reopenings where possible; funding for safe and fair elections in this unique public health environment; and an enhancement to housing and nutrition programs, targeted at the poorest Americans.

Though a faction of congressional Republicans oppose such spending, based on selective concern about the federal debt, others recognize the need — if only to aid the party’s dwindling chances of holding the White House and Senate. Democratic leaders on Friday indicated a willingness to reduce their bill’s cost by $1 trillion over 10 years, if Republicans would raise theirs by the same amount. That would mean a roughly $2 trillion deal. It’s a place to start when talks get serious, which they should have long ago.

 

 

 

 

Cartoon – Unemployment Insurance vs. Raising the Minimum Wage

If you make less than $600 week, you’re underpaid. Period.

No photo description available.

‘If We Get It, We Chose to Be Here’: Despite Virus, Thousands Converge on Sturgis for Huge Rally

Thousands of bikers heading to South Dakota rally to be blocked at ...

Tens of thousands of motorcyclists roared into the western South Dakota community on Friday, lining Main Street from end to end, for the start of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Tens of thousands of motorcyclists roared into the western South Dakota community of Sturgis on Friday, lining Main Street from end to end, for the start of an annual rally that kicked off despite objections from residents and with little regard for a public health emergency ravaging the world.

It could have been any other past summer rally in Sturgis, with herds of R.V.s, bikers and classic cars converging for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, a 10-day affair that was expected to attract roughly 250,000 enthusiasts this year — about half the number who attended last year but a figure that puts it on track to be among the country’s largest public gatherings since the first coronavirus cases emerged in the spring.

Save for a few hard-to-spot hand-sanitizer stations, it could have been any other major festival in pre-pandemic times.

Hot Leathers Screw Covid Lets Ride Coronavirus Motorcycle T-Shirt

“Screw Covid I went to Sturgis,” read a black T-shirt amid a sea of Harley Davidson and Trump 2020 outfits sported by the throng of people walking along Main Street. Their gear did not include face masks, and social distancing guidelines were completely ignored.

South Dakota is among several states that did not put in place a lockdown, and state officials have not required residents to wear masks, giving attendees who rode in from outside the state fewer restrictions than they may have had back home.

Attendance on Friday was on par with previous years, said Dan Ainslie, City Manager for Sturgis.

“It’s kind of like a typical rally,” Mr. Ainslie said of the number of people coming into town, “and the crowds are still building.”

Indeed, fears that the rally could be a superspreader event did not appear to scare riders from attending. Bikers flocked to tents featuring tattoo artists, apparel, gear and food.

Health experts say the coronavirus is less likely to spread outdoors, especially when people wear masks and socially distance. But large gatherings like the motorcycle rally also increase the number of visitors inside restaurants and stores. A few businesses in Sturgis put up signs limiting the number of customers who could enter, but most did not post such notices.

Over the past week, there has been an average of 84 coronavirus cases per day in South Dakota, a 31 percent increase over the previous two weeks. At least four new virus deaths and 105 new cases were reported on Thursday.

Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, encouraged people to attend the rally in an interview on Fox News on Wednesday night, saying the state had successfully hosted other large events — including a Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore that President Trump attended — without seeing a direct increase in virus cases. Plus, she said, the state’s economy benefits when people visit.

The state’s Department of Tourism has estimated that the annual festival generates about $800 million in revenue.

The rally, which has taken place every summer in Sturgis since 1938, commenced amid strong objections from residents. In a city-sponsored survey, more than 60 percent of the nearly 7,000 residents favored postponing the event.

Little could be done to stop the event, said Doreen Allison Creed, the Meade County commissioner who represents Sturgis. Ms. Creed said the county lacked the authority to shut down the rally because much of it takes place on state-licensed campgrounds.

When it became clear that it would go on as planned, the city said in a news release that changes would be made to safeguard residents from the coronavirus, including adding hand-sanitizing stations to the downtown area. The city plans to offer coronavirus testing for its residents once the rally concludes on Aug. 16.

While the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines do not suggest a specific limit for the number of attendees at gatherings or community events, they encourage organizers to maintain a capacity conducive to reducing the spread of the virus. The agency encourages people to socially distance at six feet apart and wear masks.

“Attendees will be asked to be respectful of the community concerns by practicing social distancing and taking personal responsibility for their health by following C.D.C. guidelines,” the news release said.

But on Friday, throngs of ralliers parked their bikes and walked shoulder to shoulder along the downtown streets, nary a mask in sight. Police officers stationed at the intersections also were not wearing masks.

Bruce Labsa, 66, drove from North Carolina last week to be among the first in town. This was the first year he would be able to attend the rally since retiring, and he did not want to miss it. On Friday, he was not wearing a mask, and he said he had no concerns about catching the coronavirus.

“I don’t know anyone who’s had it,” Mr. Labsa said.

Amy Svoboda, 27, who was working in a women’s apparel shop for bikers called One Sexy Biker Chick, said Friday’s crowd of shoppers had been steady. She said she didn’t know what to expect, but was happy to see people turning out.

“We are allowed to make our own choices,” she said. “If we get it, we chose to be here.”

Still, Nelson Horsley, 26, of Rapid City, S.D., said he expects there will be a rise in coronavirus cases in the area once the rally concludes next weekend. But he said he didn’t feel the need to wear a mask while walking around downtown Friday afternoon. He compared the virus to getting the seasonal flu.

“I haven’t seen anyone out here wear a mask so it kind of feels like it defeats the purpose,” he said, to wear a mask himself.

While most residents opposed the rally, some offered their front yards as camp sites for bikers who were unable to find a hotel room. But many others said they were worried about the impact the rally would eventually have on the small community.

Among those was Patricia Viator, 64, who has lived in Sturgis for 16 years. She said she became resigned to the fact that there was nothing residents could do to keep thousands of bikers from coming to the city. She said she’s worried for her family and the town, and she takes several precautions when leaving her house, including wearing a mask.

“It scares me more than before because we don’t have many cases around here, but now this increases the chances of us locals getting it,” she said.

 

 

US surpasses 5 million coronavirus cases

https://thehill.com/homenews/news/510863-us-surpasses-5-million-coronavirus-cases

The U.S. has recorded more than 5 million coronavirus cases since the start of the outbreak in the country, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

More than 1.5 million people have recovered from the disease in the country while the U.S. has also reported more than 162,000 coronavirus-related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

The U.S. has reported the most confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths of any other country. The number of new infections across the U.S. have showed signs of easing recently, though the number of cases remains at a high level compared to earlier in the pandemic.

In some states, governors responded to spikes in June and July by implementing mandatory statewide mask policies and reimposing a number of restrictions. Other states, however, have largely kept nonessential businesses open despite the summer uptick.

In Georgia, for example, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) refused to implement a statewide mask mandate despite COVID-19 spikes and has sought to prohibit localities from imposing similar orders.

In Florida, another hotspot for the virus, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) declined to impose a statewide order, though some local leaders across the state have put in place mandatory face covering requirements.

States like Florida, Arizona and Texas saw their peak in cases in mid- and late July, though they have dropped the past couple weeks. For many states, the number of cases has started to trend downward, though is at a high level, underscoring the difficulty of quickly getting the disease under control.

President Trump maintained in an interview with Axios released Monday that the pandemic is “under control as much as you can control it” in the U.S., saying that the death toll “is what it is.”

“They are dying, that’s true. And you have — it is what it is,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague.”

The interview was recorded before the coronavirus-related death toll in the U.S. surpassed 150,000. 

Trump has touted the push for developing a vaccine by the end of the year. He said Thursday he believes a vaccine will be ready around Election Day in November. 

 

 

 

US economy added 1.8 million jobs in July but still down nearly 13 million jobs during the pandemic

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/08/07/economy/july-2020-jobs-report/index.html?fbclid=IwAR2ZKuCxrp3mzH_GizAoLlCe3ZRAleJbzjCSYYmxiJ6Efiq_qfbU9eq2N2o

July jobs report 2020: US economy added 1.8 million jobs in July ...

The US economy added another 1.8 million jobs in July, a sharp slowdown from June and a small step for an economy that’s still down 12.9 million jobs during the pandemic.

It was the third-straight month of improvement after the spring lockdown that decimated the labor market, and the July job gain exceeded economists’ expectations. Even so, it was far fewer than the 4.8 million jobs added in June.
The unemployment rate fell to 10.2%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, but remains above the Great Recession high of 10% that was reached in October 2009.
Friday’s report had good and bad parts, and economists are still trying to come to grips with how the labor market is behaving in this unparalleled situation.
For example, the number of people working part-time rose by 803,000 to 24 million in total in July. The government defines part-time work as anything under 35 hours per week.
“We added more jobs than most people expected, but the gains really were disproportionately part-time workers,” said Kate Bahn, economist and director of labor market policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. “To me that means even if workers are coming back it’s to jobs that pay less, and families will be worse off.”
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell in all demographic groups. The rate remains by far the highest for Black workers at 14.6%, which is concerning, Bahn said.
“Research from previous downturns suggests that Black workers are the most likely to be displaced,” she added.
Then there are seasonal adjustments, which are based on historical trends in the job market — but because the pandemic is unlike any other moment in history, they’re distorting the data at the moment. Without seasonal adjustments, only 591,000 jobs were added in July.
That said, one positive sign in this jobs report is the number of permanent job losses: it was more or less flat from June at 2.9 million. This might not sound exciting, but it would have been very bad news for the recovery had the number gone up.
“Granted still more than double from before the crisis, but we’ll take the one-month reprieve,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor.
Since the pandemic hit, the government has struggled to count the enormous number of people who are out of work. That’s in part because it has been increasingly difficult for workers themselves to discern whether they have been temporarily laid off or employed but not at work.
The share of misclassified responses was smaller in June and July than in the months before, the BLS said. Including the misclassified workers, the July unemployment rate would have been about one percentage point higher than reported.
The reopening of the economy and a resurgence in Covid-19 infections in some states, paired with business and individuals running out of federal aid, has created a unique set of conditions for the jobs market.
survey from Cornell University showed that 31% of workers who were recently rehired have lost their jobs for a second time during the pandemic. Another 26% have been told that they might get laid off again.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis said states with more Covid cases since June also registered the weakest employment recovery. This was most notably true for Arizona, Florida and Texas.

Head-butting in Washington

Friday’s jobs report comes during tense times in Washington, as Republicans and Democrats are butting heads over the next stimulus bill. One point of contention is the government’s boost of unemployment benefits. The CARES act provided a weekly boost of $600 to regular jobless aid. But this provision ran out on July 31.
Now Congress is arguing about how to proceed: Democrats want to keep the $600 weekly supplement for the rest of the year, while Republicans want to cut it to $400 a week.
For millions of Americans, the benefit expansion contributes a large portion of their income at the moment — so cutting it could hamper the recovery. At the same time, some economists believe that too much unemployment aid actually keeps people from returning to work. The question is what is too much aid during an economic crisis of unprecedented proportions.
“The primary reasoning behind the reducing those benefits it that it would push more Americans back into the labor force. But there doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence for the need to push people back, because the jobs aren’t’ there,” said Zhao, the Glassdoor economist.
This could mean workers who are forced back to work by the lower benefits may have to take part-time or riskier jobs than they would otherwise choose.