Life Inside A Retirement Community On Lockdown

Guest post by Jana Rea

In this lockdown environment, the retirement community where I work has new challenges to navigate; I interact and react and try to make sense of it.  I see how the one time Bible teacher struggles to maintain her stature as her body diminishes daily. She bends forward over her walker and needs to stop to rest a moment during the trek from elevator to front doors. She wants to be remembered by her former accomplishments. She is just enduring the present. Life at this facility has been a slow acceptance, her husband confides in me. And now she can’t see her family.

On my arrival for duty at the front desk, a married couple sat outside on the newly refinished benches, side by side, with blue tissue, china issue masks from ear to ear. I wish I had taken their photo. It was a sad sight but so indicative. I told them they could take the masks off while they were outside and breathe the fresh air. They said they did not know if it was allowed. Such is the heavy hand of government mandates in the minds of the compliant, trusting rule-following elder population. Who will rescue them? Who will champion them from the policy that asphyxiates their leisure years but reports to protect them? Yesterday I observed the most dedicated walker in the community; he was moving slowly down the sidewalk with cane and heavy mask, step by labored step. I approached and suggested he would get better results if he took his mask off while taking his daily walk. He asked if it was allowed. I said, “It is much better for you to breathe the fresh air. The mask labors the oxygen exchange.” He slipped it off and smiled,  “You are right, that is better. Thanks for the tip.”

To need to be told such a basic thing baffles me and yet that is what the climate of fear does to rationality. Even the resident who alleges rational thought as his religion, labors to breathe through a mask with his portable oxygen tubes under it. I told him, while he was trying to talk with me at the front desk that he could slip it down so I could hear him. He refused. Then he made some snide comment about how Trump doesn’t wear one so he will! OK, be belligerent at your own expense. That will kick Trump in the kneecap.  A sad and silly willfulness that accomplishes nothing when it is more satisfying to defy Trump than to be self-caring. Or informed.

But then behind the desk, I see a email to the fulltime receptionist. I printed it to see the propaganda pushed by this Soros funded organization that has been at it for decades. Now in full view across the nation, where Saul Alinsky tactics taunt and BLM muscles tear down American History.  Public policies either wreck havoc or yield peace and prosperity in a culture. Evident.  It is all about policy. But it is also about discernment on the part of the American voter.

Among this retirement population–some of the Greatest Generation, others aging Baby Boomers–politics are politely removed from their daily conversation in case it offends someone; instead I have private conversations across the front desk counter. Conservatives will confess allegiance to Trump and Republican policy. One resident who sports a MAGA hat, comes up to the desk frequently to ask, “How are we doing? Are we winning?” I give him a thumps up and a good report about what team Trump is accomplishing today. Of course my information is not mainstream. That is why he asks me. He doesn’t have a computer with digital-soldier YouTube broadcasts; he doesn’t have text feeds to keep him current. But apparently, he has discernment. So he is miles ahead.

I’m a philosophy major so I frame life’s difficulties within the big questions: How do we know what we know? How do we test for reality? How then do we live ethically?

After a long while gathering information about this pandemic and watching like everyone else the ‘experts’ on the national stage cite data about flattening the curve and projected mortality rates, and then the responses at a state and local level, I listen but I also know something besides a virus was unleashed.  Now, as the lockdown grip is tightening despite the multiple reports of false positives and really bad record keeping at the CDC, despite the drop in the mortality rate, despite the multiple doctors who report therapeutics with high efficacy, I now question the information this industry uses to make decisions. I question the recommendations from corporate because if they are based on the unreliability of the CDC how can they be sound.  The consequential affects on the population within this facility–the residents and the staff are apparent.

Periodic illness requires staff to work overtime or share shifts. That is typical. Now I observe and feel the strain in the environment where a virus is transmittable. But managing the forced fear of it is much more difficult. The return to stringent lockdown mandates were not anticipated. Residents were starting to enjoy family visits and outings. With this u-turn on a dime sending them back into quarantine, I can feel the seams of well being beginning to fray.  The mandates do not seem congruent with reality; nor are they enforceable.

At the front desk, I can attest to the impossibility of monitoring every entrance and exit of personnel from outside the premises; the residents who have cars may or may not limit their excursions to medical-appointments-only as advised. It is impossible. I cannot tackle them. We do the best we can. But a pharmaceutical courier admitted he doesn’t know if he has been in a facility where covid-19 is present.  He is never told. So he will sign our screening form not knowing.  That is a non-report. Paperwork.

These are my questions: Is corporate getting good information if CDC is the only advisor.  Are they seeking other opinions or is it a groupthink environment?  Is there anyone in this industry who is challenging the corporate viewpoint? Do we have independence at all from corporate to act in a nimble fashion responsive to our own community? With so much misinformation from CDC, now surfacing in the media, how can we trust the testing reports, even local reports? If a goat and a paw paw test positive, all reporting agencies seem suspect.

If there is a therapeutic that has been proven effective from the beginning (no–actually for decades!) but governors and medical boards outlaw it so that doctors cannot prescribe it, what is the real agenda?? Fear, masks, manipulation, death and unemployment . . . Human suffering is pervasive. None of us are untouched.  We are all doing the best we can. But I continue asking important questions. Are we thinking or are we just doing what we are told?

We are in an environment where individual judgment and civil liberties may run counter to the culture or system. (Or our own employment, for that matter.) We are in an environment where we need discernment; we must distinguish between entities that are well meaning but are simply ill informed.  There is however another possibility, unless one’s worldview has trouble admitting evil: the nefarious, the sinister set, those who are in fact eugenicists, who would love to save the elite of the world from the dispensable with a vaccine.

It is naïve to believe we are in a politic-free-zone when policies are affecting and infecting our every movement. That is the definition of politics—the brokerage of policies that impact our lives.  It is a fallacy to think that we live in an amoral and apolitical world. Wake up!

I want to be part of the compassionate solution.  Right now, I do that by encouraging the residents to sit outdoors and slip the damn mask off.

Jana Rea


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