Jody Moss - "Seniors Sunset Times - Clallam County Edition

Staying on track and staying safe

July 17, 2020


By : Jody Moss



I am so very tired of COVID-19, Corona Virus, Isolating, Masks, washing my hands.  I’ll bet you are too.  I wish Corona was just that beer with the lime in the bottle that I like to drink on a hot summer day.

Speaking of hot summer day….North Olympic Weather…what gives?!?  Of course, as I write this it is early July and by the time this gets to print we may already be sick of hot, sunny, dry days.

But I digress…back to the topic at hand…sick of life being about a pandemic.

Who could have guessed that 5 months ago, on February 10th we would be where we are.  Not you, and not me.  Although, I have heard Dr. Tom Locke, the Jefferson Public Health Officer and former Clallam Public Health Officer as well, talk about a pandemic being not and “if” event but a “when.” And everything that is happening is what he has described.

  • Shutting down everything
  • Interruptions in supply chains – think toilet paper, flour, etc.
  • Economy in the tank
  • Medical systems overrun
  • No end in sight

Wait a minute – I don’t remember anything about that last one.  OMG really – no end in sight?!?  I am not sure I can manage that.  Are you all feeling that way?  Sure you are.

In light of that, let’s review where we are…

Things are a little less scary than they were in the end of February.  Not to downplay how serious an experience other areas of the country/world are having or individuals’ and families’ lives impacted by the virus and death that can come with it.  But aren’t we lucky to be here, where it has had less of an impact.  But wait – it is growing even here in our small pocket of the world.  So let’s get serious.

Since February, we know more about the virus, we have some better, though not many treatment options.  We have access to more testing and PPE – a new acronym that we did not know in February – Personal Protective Equipment.  We know how it spreads (maybe) and we may be on the way to some kind of limited control. We know that for most people it is a fairly mild experience, but for some it can be a death sentence, or it can leave a lifelong change in their health status.

We do know how to prevent getting it…and that is to stay away from all other people who might have been exposed to people who might have been exposed to it.  We know to wear masks when going out.  We know to stay 6 feet away from other people.  We know that outside we are safer than inside.  We know if we spend shorter time around people we are safer, so quick trips to the grocery store are better.

We know that people who are older and those other diagnoses like obesity, high blood pressure, asthma or other lung diseases, and compromised immune systems are at the highest risk for getting this disease and more importantly for having a poor outcome.  According to an article on the American Council on Science and Health website: (found here), a shocking 81% of the deaths caused by the virus have occurred to people over the age of 65.

We have also seen some politicizing of this disease. Let’s be clear – This is an illness, with serious consequences and it doesn’t care what you believe.

So now that I have that out of the way, let’s talk staying safe.

I feel safe enough to go out and grocery shop although I wear a mask and make sure I wipe the cart and sanitize my hands once back on the care and wash my hands once home and the groceries are put away.  I don’t wipe down my groceries any longer and am trusting (perhaps more than I should) that being in an area with lower levels of infection, that the risk of getting it from those infrequently touched surfaces is relatively low.

I have gotten together with only a very few friends, outside, with 6 feet separating us and rarely.

My adult children have been to visit after testing negative (thank goodness).

I mostly work from home and go into the office only when I have to.  We all wear masks in public spaces in the office and wash our hands and sanitize surfaces.

Perhaps you have had similar experiences.  Perhaps you have begun gathering with family members a little more often.  Have you hugged them?  Spent time inside with them?  Read a book to a beloved grandchild sitting on your lap?

So in my business, we have been having philosophical discussions on how we make decisions on who is safe to add to your circle.  I have noticed that some friends feel safer with me than I may feel with them.  Perhaps that is because I am in the midst of this all day, every day, thinking about keeping elders and adults with disabilities safe.

I want my circle to include my children but I also know there are risk factors there.  They are both from cities and while they are all working from home and being careful, I know they are occasionally getting together with friends, outside and adult beverages may be involved.  Adult beverages make us forget about social distancing.

I trust my friends that I have been seeing in outside spaces.  They are smart and knowledgeable and COVID-19 is one of the big topics of conversation when we see one another.  But do I know and trust the other people in their circles?

And then even within my own limited exposure – there are two very real risks – my husband works in health care (though always masked and not on the frontlines).  One of my colleagues’ husband works at a grocery store.  Both are in positions where working from home is not an option and their work is critical at times like these.  And they follow all the right practices – changing when they get home and cleaning up.  We call these two our vectors.

My point for all of this is we are not there yet where just because we are used to this and it feels safe that we can relax our vigilance.  We don’t have a vaccine, the virus isn’t becoming less of a problem and in areas that have been less careful than WA State, we are seeing huge increases.  And huge increases means huge risk for older people.

So dream of a time when your Corona is sitting in the cup holder of your lawn chair with beads of water rolling down the side.  And family and friends are all around.  But stay at home as much as you can and limit your time in public.  Wear a mask when you have to go out.   And think about and talk about how safe your expanded circle of people who get together really are.  Socialize only outside with space between you.  Don’t kiss and hug – well air kisses from 6 feet and air hugs are okay.

Stay safe and begin thinking about this as a long term commitment.

Jody Moss is the Director of Contracts Management & Planning for the Olympic Area Agency on Aging and can be reached at 360-379-5064.  For help with senior or adults with disability questions call Information and Assistance at 360-452-3221 in Clallam and 360-385-2552 in Jefferson.