Pandemic Experiences: Having RA during COVID-19

As we all know, COVID-19 has emerged as a global pandemic that has affected the lives of millions of people to this day. While there have been wonderful examples of quick responses to the situation, it seems there is a sizeable portion of individuals who are not taking this situation seriously. At least, that’s the situation I’ve been dealing with in my town currently — and I’m sure I’m not alone in the frustration I feel.

Coronavirus safety guidelines are being ignored

Living in Florida during this pandemic certainly makes life interesting. When I go to the grocery store, at least half of the people are not wearing masks and most are not paying attention to the arrows that guide customers down each aisle.

There is some talk that restaurants and other businesses are going to start reopening, quicker than most experts would say is necessary and public beaches have started to reopen, much to the shock and horror of people with chronic illnesses and who have been personally affected by coronavirus in general. It is a mess down here in the Sunshine State.

How can people with RA stay safe when others aren't following guidelines?

This maelstrom of a situation necessitates the question: how does someone with RA manage life during COVID-19? More importantly, how do you manage a pandemic like COVID-19 when the people around you are not wearing masks, following social distancing patterns, nor seem to really care about the situation as a whole?

Observation of people not social distancing

For me, I’ve started to tackle this situation by — oddly — exercising more (of course with all the safety precautions necessary). This helps me get out of my apartment, as it is difficult for me to remain cooped up inside for so long. Walking, for me, is a wonderful way to relieve stress and to help my body not feel as much RA pain. As an added bonus, it also helps me connect with nature and the world around me.

The problem is that this can be difficult to achieve when your fellow neighbors that are also outside ignore social distancing protocols and walk less than 6 feet away from you. I’ve had people — even those who are older and are therefore at risk for developing serious complications from COVID-19 — continue to brush and breeze past me, even as I try to cross the street and maintain the 6-foot distance.

People are still congregating in groups

In addition, sometimes on my walks, I notice many families are still inviting their neighbors over and having parties right in their front yards, furthering a lack of awareness of social distancing. While some of the chairs are 6 feet apart, most are not. Even in the parks, there are still groups of 10 people or more doing yoga, standing close, and talking with each other. It seems that no matter where I go, people are not continuing to follow the CDC guidelines for flattening the COVID-19 curve.

Why aren't people following coronavirus guidelines?

On my walks, I’m hit with various degrees of annoyance and misunderstanding. I find myself asking: Why are they not following social distancing protocols? Are they aware of the gravity of this situation? Are we not watching the same news, the information that keeps spelling out the growth of the virus and how severely it has affected people’s lives?

What have your experiences been during this pandemic? Are people generally following the guidelines or not at all?

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