I didn’t take the Coronavirus seriously enough.
When news of COVID-19 first started, I assumed it would be like SARS, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, or any of the other “diseases du jour” we’ve heard about in the last few years. Also, I naively just wanted to go on our ski trip to Jackson Hole, quietly judging all the travelers wearing masks at the airport.
On that ski trip, I fell on the slope and sprained my ankle. As I waited for the ski patrol sled to help me down, I was sitting on the side of the mountain with two of the safety team members and coughed a little.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “It’s not the Coronavirus.”
“It’s okay,” the ski patrol replied. “You’re strong. You’d survive.”
And at that, I started laughing. Perhaps it was a mix of my adrenaline pumping from the fall, and this ski patrol’s Western matter-of-fact way of saying it, but we just had to laugh about it together.
We all know now that this is no laughing matter.
We came home from Wyoming on March 8. It wasn’t until Italy went on lockdown, and then schools and businesses started shuttering that I realized this was going to be a catastrophe.
It’s now been six weeks of sheltering-in-place at Pretty Southern HQ, our Atlanta home. Despite what Georgia’s governor says, I have no plans of reentering society any time soon.
For those of y’all who know me, not going out for an event at least twice every week is a literal gamechanger, let alone staying home for an extended period of time.
I was optimistic that some of my favorite events of the spring season might still happen, such as Taste of the Nation and the Atlanta Steeplechase. Obviously those were canceled, like everything else, due to the need for social distancing.
I feel a bit like Scarlett O’Hara crying over all the good parties getting canceled because of the war.
This year, my husband and I were honored to be invited to a record number of weddings. So far, three have been rescheduled. Two of those couples have gone ahead and gotten legally married on paper because of the circumstances in these trying times.
Having only been 23 when the market tanked in 2008, I wasn’t prepared for the impact this could potentially have our economy, let alone seeing so many people I care about being laid off. For some of my pals from college who are working journalists, this is the second time, for some the third, that they’ve been furloughed in their professional careers.
In the Atlanta startup scene, there are so many talented people who have been let go due to this pandemic. Companies who have raised millions of dollars in venture capital now can’t afford to keep on their staff.
But my biggest fear is the worst hasn’t happened yet.
One of my sources in Europe said: “I’m hearing a total of three waves with the corona. We’re in the first wave. It’ll die down and a second wave will return in October, then the third wave in Spring again of 2021.”
A friend who works for a Fortune 100 company reported they’re also forecasting for 18 months of Coronavirus, until summer 2021 when a vaccine is finally available. Connections at other big corporates have taken pay cuts, going down to four-day-weeks of work while their companies receive billions of dollars in bailout money from the government.
For the first time in my 30-something life—despite all the battles our country has fought overseas, September 11, you name it—this feels like we’re at war. We’re facing a lack of leadership, adequate supplies, scarcity, and people we love are hurting, even dying.
So like a good Southern woman, I turned to the good book for wisdom; not the Bible, but Gone With The Wind. There’s a scene in the text that didn’t make the film. After Scarlett returns to Tara following the burning of Atlanta, she goes to the Fontaine’s place and meets with Grandma Fontaine.
After giving her supplies, Old Miss Fontaine has words for Scarlett. She says that it’s a bad thing to think she’s faced the worst that can happen to her because if she thinks the worst has happened, then she’s naive.
“And that lack of fear has gotten me into a lot of trouble and cost me a lot of happiness,” Grandma Fontaine says.
“Scarlett, always save something to fear—even as you save something to love… And don’t think you can lay down that load, ever. Because you can’t.”
We can’t lay down the load, y’all. Our burden of responsibility is just getting started. For now, the least we can do is stay home where it’s safe.
I’m writing this on behalf of my bestie in Boston who was pulled from her fellowship research to go work in the ICU because of the outbreak. She’s the mother of a 2-year old and scared about bringing the virus home to her daughter and husband.
This is on behalf of my friends who are nurses here in Atlanta, begging people to continue to shelter-in-place so their hospitals don’t get overrun.
A friend who requested anonymity said their hospital in Metro Atlanta has told its nurses to reuse gowns and gloves when possible! She said, “I think the worst part is ICU nurses are being assigned to four patients and having ‘helper nurses’ from other areas that are not ICU trained. New ICU beds don’t equal trained staff. It’s dangerous.”
And this is also for my friend who lost her beloved uncle because he had to go to work, and was not afforded the opportunity to work remotely, then caught COVID and died.
Please y’all, continue to stay home if you can. There absolutely is a point to these shutdowns. And if you have to go out:
It’s a terrible thing we can’t all be together, to hug the folks we love the most in this world, or even to shake hands and high-five.
For my blonde friends who hate that their roots or grays are showing, ladies, I feel ya. Because to quote Jonathan from Queer Eye my ‘sparkle is showing’, too. Yes, with all the stress of this world, yours truly at Pretty Southern is going gray.
As much as I empathize with the Southern salon owners who are choosing to open their doors because Georgia’s governor gave the green light, it feels like my civic duty to stay home because it’s not essential for me to cover up my ‘sparkle’.
I’m going to quote a fellow writer, Lauren Duca who gained notoriety for her piece in Teen Vogue about how the president is gaslighting America. Lauren has a newsletter called Pancake Brain, and she wrote: “Living through a global pandemic means we will be forced to cobble together the practicalities of day-to-day survival while imaging the equity and sustainability we all deserve… That means dreaming, and voting, and dancing — it means getting by with the help of our friends.”
How you can help during COVID
Besides staying home, washing your hands, and staying 6-feet away when you go out in public, here are a few resources to help folks who have been impacted the most by the Coronavirus.
No Kid Hungry – dedicated to providing free or reduced meals for kids across the country. This spring season is always an important time to donate as they prepare to help ensure kids have access to food during the summer break. Now with schools closed for the remainder of the year with the pandemic, the team at No Kid Hungry is working even harder. Donate here.
Goodr – this Atlanta-based organization was already doing incredible work to recover food from restaurants, movie sets, stadiums, you name it that would have ended up in a landfill to get it to the folks that need it most. With COVID, founder Jasmine Crowe has established partnerships with some of Atlanta’s biggest names to make sure families and seniors aren’t going hungry. Help out here.
New Story – a nonprofit pioneering solutions to end global homelessness. The Neighborhood is New Story’s latest solution to help turn this vision into a reality. Their first project as a community is to provide rent relief for U.S. families on the verge of homelessness due to COVID-19. Help a family pay their rent here.
ATL Family Meal – the mission of #ATLFAMILYMEAL is to “feed, nurture and support hospitality workers and their families experiencing hunger and joblessness in the metro Atlanta community. This community of chefs, restaurants, suppliers, community stakeholders, and hospitality workers, is working in unison to build new bridges in the community that allow us to feed our Atlanta hospitality family.” Donate or shop in their e-store.
ATL Food Bingo – shoutout to Pretty Southern contributor Rachel Boyd for alerting us to this one. The Atlanta Food Bingo cards represent restaurants in neighborhoods across the city. “Order delivery/to-go, buy giftcards/merch, or donate at ANY 5 participating businesses and SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS. Each purchase has to be at least $20. They don’t have to be in a row, just pick any 5 you want!” Play ATL Food Bingo!
Scrubs Grub – is delivering hundreds of meals each week, serving Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, Alliance Recovery Center, Piedmont ER, Atlanta Medical Center OR, and Wellstar North Fulton ICU. “The coronavirus has made life difficult for all of us in Atlanta and beyond,” says Kat Spivey, the organizer of this fundraiser. “Without question, people in the restaurant and healthcare industries are some of the most affected. We created this GoFundMe to help both… We hope to simultaneously generate needed business for restaurants and feed our brave healthcare workers. Donate to Scrubs Grub.
Also, this Google Sheet provides a list of restaurants, salons, and other local Atlanta businesses that chose to remain close for the time being.
Whatever “normal” looks like for Atlanta, the South, our country, and the world will be very different from anything we’ve ever known. To close out this blog post, I’ll leave y’all with one of my favorite quotes from the great Magaret Mitchell:
Gumption is what makes some people survive when others go under.
Y’all have got gumption in spades. I’ll close this post with some final advice.
Shoutout to Abby Westcott Likens for the graphics featured in this post.
And if you know of anyone else who needs help, a business you want to feature, or if there’s anything else at all, we can rally the Pretty Southern squad, please leave a comment below.
Love y’all, stay well, and we’ll all be together soon.