Unless you have been in social isolation for all of 2020, you know that Covid-19 has taken over the entire globe.  



Covid-19, or the “coronavirus” as it is more commonly known as, is a respiratory illness that was first detected in the Hubei province of Wuhan, China, in late December 2019.  Symptoms (which close resemble the flu) include fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing.  The virus, spread person-to-person, is set apart is the symptomatic respiratory issues it causes.  


While Covid-19 flew under the radar its first couple of months, by the end of February/early March, it had exploded and become a global pandemic.  Cities around the world shut down and issued quarantine/”stay home”/Marshall law orders as the virus exploded and deaths and cases rose rapidly.  Total Covid-19 cases worldwide are more than 510,000.  The US most recently has lead the countries worldwide in Covid-19 cases with 82,000.  This has surpassed both Italy, who had a huge outbreak early on, as well as China, where it had originated.  


With this huge rise in Covid-19 cases, supplies have been extremely strained.  And not just essential and vital medical supplies, such as face masks, hospital beds, and the actual tests used for Covid-19.  As fear, panic, and anxiety has swept across the US, people have cleared out grocery stores of household essential products such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, Lysol/disinfectant wipes, and soap.  Aside from these household essentials, grocery stores are also being bought out of much of their frozen food, canned foods, breads, and dairy items.  


With many cities across the nation now either weeks in (such as my hometown, Los Angeles, which is now over 2 weeks into a shutdown/quarantine) or just starting a “Stay Home/Self-Quarantine” order (such as the city of Houston, which began the order that would extend to April 3rd)


As the country, and the world faces social distancing, economic turmoil over the loss of employment (due to quarantining efforts), and shortages of essential items and supplies, how does one adjust to this “New Normal”?  


Every person’s acclimation is different; as their personal and social factors as well as the intersectionality of their identity causes them to be affected by Covid-19 differently.


For me, life hasn’t changed as much.  Work-wise (my day job) I have been classified as an “Essential” worker (a person who is permitted to leave their home through the “Stay Home” order because their place of employment is classified as an essential business) so I have still been going to work like business as usual.  Outside of work, many of the other things I do, such as my work with The Mahogany Project, Inc, and my writing, while having to be adjusted due to the overall slow-down and halting of many respective businesses and industries that correlate with them, hasn’t stopped either.  What this time has allowed has been space to create and essentially “play” and not be as restricted to time as before.  With the world essentially coming to a halt, I am allowed to be more creative.  And not just with writing, but creative in general (I have used this time to play in make-up, work on my styling, and create new conceptual performance ideas).  I live alone and often enjoy my solitude so the social distancing hasn’t been much of a difference.  But what it has done is helped me stock up more on household items that I might have been a little more lax on (now have water and toilet paper to last me through the end of the year; I’m sure).  


While it may have been a little easier for me, it hasn’t been easy for most.  Many people are struggling with this “New Normal” we are in; the social distancing, the isolating quarantine, and even things such as unemployment, lack of essential items, etc.  How do you handle this New Normal when it was far from your reality?   

The first step… relax.  Take a breather.  Social distancing and Quarantining is not the end of the world.  While it is easy to give into growing feelings of anxiety and even depression during these uncertain times, all is not lost.  What you also want to be is informed.  Make sure you are getting informed from credible sources, and even fact-checking and verifying (and re-verifying) that information.  It is crucial to make sure you are up-to-date, and in the know of what is going on.  Take stock of your essential supplies, and makes sure you’re stocked.  It is uncertain when things will go back to the way they were (if they do?), and so it is important that you are prepared during these times.  Panic buying is not the answer, but making sure you are adequately stocked is key.  What is also important is taking a look at your finances, bills, etc. and making sure you are okay, and knowing your options resources if you will have any forthcoming hardships due to the fallout of Covid-19.

Humans are social beings, and our inclination is to gather and socialize, even when you are told not to.  How do you honor the safety of social-distancing and still be able to interact with your family and friends (especially the LGBT community, as our social circles are often our chosen family and a form of safety and comfort)?  The number one thing is to make sure we are social distancing.  Whether you believe it or not, Covid-19 is a very serious real threat and danger; especially for those who are immune-compromised (such as elderly people, those who are pregnant, and people with underlying health issues).  The beauty of the social media age is that we are now more connected than ever.  We have the ability to message and go on live/video chat (and even video group chat) as a way to stay connected in the moment.  While many social gathering places such as bars and clubs are closed, many of the DJs and artists have used social media to still practice their art.  DJs have been hosting live DJ sessions as a way to get people up and dancing; a feel-good method of escapism.  The streaming platform Netflix has even created a way for people to stream the same movie at the same time and comment/chat as they watch it.  Going stir crazy?  Take a walk and get some fresh air.  Getting exercise outside (while practicing social distancing of at least 6 ft) is perfectly okay. 

 More importantly, outside of social interaction, how does one take care of theirselves mentally? It’s very important to use this time to do whatever it is that makes you happy. Whether that is reading a book, journaling, taking a walk, sleeping, or doing absolutely nothing. What is also important is that if you are experiencing increased anxiety or feelings of depression and isolation that you reach out to trained professionals that could assist through this challenging time. While in-person visits may not be an option, there are still many professionals that can be reached via e-mail/social media, and many helpful hotline numbers as well.

This New Normal is here to stay for the unforeseeable future.  Things may never go back to the way they were.  What is important is that you are able to ride this rollercoaster as safely as you can, you stay informed as to the updates, and you continue to enjoy your life as much as you can.  Because, even through Covid-19 and Quarantine, life still must go on.