NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, June 20th, 2020

The Pandemic is Personal: Patti Dailey on adjusting to not going out during COVID-19

Editor’s note: Wel­come to The Pan­dem­ic is Per­son­al, a week­ly series focus­ing on on how the nov­el coro­n­avirus (SARS-CoV­‑2) is affect­ing the every­day lives of peo­ple through­out the Pacif­ic North­west. We hope to enlight­en you and reflect on what you and oth­ers are address­ing as this pan­dem­ic runs its course.

If you have a sto­ry to tell, please feel free to con­tact us.

Pat­ti Dai­ley is a vet­er­an Demo­c­ra­t­ic activist and pub­lic ser­vant based in Pierce Coun­ty, Wash­ing­ton State’s sec­ond largest juris­dic­tion. She has a long­time his­to­ry of involve­ment in the labor move­ment in the Pacif­ic North­west. A can­cer sur­vivor, Pat­ti is among those who are the most at risk from pos­si­ble expo­sure to COVID-19, the nov­el coro­n­avirus. In this install­ment of The Pan­dem­ic is Per­son­al, she reflects on her nec­es­sar­i­ly strict phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing reg­i­men. 

Func­tion­ing through COVID-19 with dis­abil­i­ties that increase my chances of con­tract­ing the virus has been inter­est­ing and chal­leng­ing.

In 2015 I fought both triple neg­a­tive breast can­cer (TNBC) and renal car­ci­no­ma, also known as kid­ney can­cer. One left me with new dis­abling con­di­tions and both left me at high risk for oth­er ill­ness­es.

I work full time for the state DSHS (Depart­ment of Social and Health Ser­vices) in Taco­ma, Wash­ing­ton. In ear­ly March I became con­cerned hear­ing about deaths relat­ed to COVID-19 and how peo­ple over six­ty years of age, with health con­di­tions that decrease their sur­viv­abil­i­ty, were at great­est risk.

I began try­ing to lessen my expo­sure to peo­ple.  My divi­sion was not yet ready to send peo­ple home to tele­work so we con­tin­ued to work in the office despite news of expo­sures. I was issued equip­ment with set-up instruc­tions to take home and began work­ing from home full-time the last week in March.

Due to state bud­get short­falls, I am includ­ed in the groups of AFSCME Coun­cil 28 rep­re­sent­ed employ­ees who will be fac­ing fur­loughs.

We are going to be fur­loughed one day per week through the end of July, then one day per month through the end of the con­tract peri­od in June 2021.

Because I was one of the employ­ees whose Social Secu­ri­ty num­ber was used for a fraud­u­lent claim, I may not be able to file for unem­ploy­ment relief.

This will cause a sub­stan­tial finan­cial hard­ship.

For­tu­nate­ly, I have done sur­pris­ing­ly well work­ing from home.

I live alone with a dog and two cats. It is amaz­ing how the rela­tion­ship with your pets change when you are with them full-time. They became my new co-work­ers and we had to estab­lish some new work­ing rules like, don’t fol­low me to the bath­room – this is not an all-staff oppor­tu­ni­ty; you can’t write, so no tak­ing over the key­board; and the mouse does not belong on the floor.

The biggest chal­lenge I have had is how to get out to shop for food and keep safe. I only go out dur­ing the restrict­ed shop­ping hours at Safe­way at 6 AM.

I get anx­ious when I encounter peo­ple who refuse to real­ize the impor­tance of wear­ing masks and keep­ing phys­i­cal dis­tance. It has been espe­cial­ly unnerv­ing when employ­ees are not wear­ing masks and I either ask them to mask up or move, or even just pull their mask up over their nose, and the mas­sive atti­tude I get in return makes me angry and upset. Each trip is stress­ful.

There’s unfor­tu­nate­ly a con­tin­gent of peo­ple out there who do not seem to under­stand that COVID-19 isn’t just a mild flu for peo­ple like me. This is a dead­ly virus that can eas­i­ly kill any­one with under­ly­ing med­ical con­di­tions.

I have been avoid­ing Cost­co and oth­er stores that do not have spe­cial hours for old­er peo­ple that are not dur­ing the work­day. Though I’d rather not, I have been using Ama­zon for things I am unable to get at the gro­cery store.

I have not been able to go to the doc­tor, to ther­a­py or oth­er appoint­ments and have had to adjust my sched­ule due to being iso­lat­ed at home.

I miss going out to eat and inter­act­ing social­ly with friends. Because of fear of expo­sure, I have not been able to do even a lit­tle out­door activ­i­ty.

The oth­er pit­fall is work­ing hard to keep from falling into depres­sion. I have been forc­ing myself to stay active with my union and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. Par­tic­i­pat­ing in Zoom meet­ings gives me some oppor­tu­ni­ty for social inter­ac­tion.

Will all of this be over soon?

Prob­a­bly not, and espe­cial­ly not for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties who are at greater risk. Some experts sug­gest we’ll need to stay home until there is a vac­cine – which could be more than a year from now. So, like any oth­er dif­fi­cult set of cir­cum­stances, I’m learn­ing to adapt and adjust and make the best of it.

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