You’re probably feeling a little helpless right now as these strange and difficult days run together. Our usual calendar landmarks – Sunday family dinner, heading out to school and work on Monday morning, easing into the weekend on Friday night – all these feel otherworldly now. Unfortunately, the next couple of weeks are likely to be even tougher for everyone in Tri-State area. We must remember: this is a waiting game. We need to be patient. We need to be strong. Life will become routine again.  

Even with the disruption and distress around our region, that you are able to find some daily pockets of joy and kindness, some modest pleasure in things we might not normally notice: the trees that are flowering everywhere, the evenings that are brighter a few more minutes each day, or the good feelings that come from doing something thoughtful for your neighbor. Many of us are dealing with real anguish right now. We encourage you to talk with one another and to listen to one another. We’d give you a hug if we could.  

Today’s message regarding prevention of COVID-19 will be familiar but there are some new and important insights: 

1) You might feel fine, but you could be carrying the virus. Stay home. There’s mounting evidence that a significant number of people who contract this highly contagious virus are not showing symptoms. Staying home is the heart, soul, and science of stopping the virus’s spread. 

2) Practice maniacal hygiene. Washing your hands frequently with soap and warm water is the best thing. (If you’ve been doing it frequently, it’s ok to moisturize, too.) Don’t touch your face. Disinfect the things we touch all the time: the fridge door, the doorknob, the kitchen faucet and counters. You’re probably using your cellphone and remote a little more than usual; keep them clean.  

3) Testing remains limited to the sickest, most at-risk patients. If you’ve got the symptoms – persistent cough, fever, aches and pains, inability to taste or smell – you may well have the virus. If your symptoms are mild, you should stay home, self-isolate, treat with cold and flu medicines and plenty of fluids. It’s a perfect time to try telemedicine. Please understand that testing will not change your treatment and it should not change your behavior. You should absolutely seek medical attention if you are having difficulty breathing, but if your symptoms are mild, as most are, the right thing to do is to self-isolate. Please do the right thing. 

4) Please don’t call 911 or go to the hospital with mild symptoms; 911 and hospitals must be reserved for patients with severe respiratory problems or other critical medical emergencies.

5) Wearing a mask if you must go out is now recommended; it may protect you and it will protect others. 

Maybe consider a scarf or bandanna or a homemade mask but please know that medical masks are desperately needed by healthcare workers who are face-to-face with sick patients every day. If you’re feeling guilty because you bought four boxes of N95 masks on Amazon three weeks ago, relieve the guilt by dropping them off at the police precinct, the fire department, or a hospital.  

We believe what the scientists and doctors are telling us. The sacrifices we are all making by staying home and playing it safe are making a difference, but we’ve got a long way to go. There’s going to be even more heartache in the weeks ahead as we will all be touched in some tragic way by this pandemic. But we are the resilient people of the most resilient city on the planet; we dream big and we’re big-hearted, compassionate, and caring.

Believe in the healing power of kindness. We take care of each other – by doing the right thing – we’re spreading only kindness from one New Yorker to the next.