Responding to

“Prediction is very difficult,
especially if it's about the future.”

Niels Bohr
No one really knows what a post COVID-19 world will look like and many of us want some reassurance that things will return to how they used to be. But, as the singer and songwriter Billy Joel once said, "The good ole days weren't always good, and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems."

So, what do we have to look forward to?

“One thing that is important to remember: This is not going to be one of those light switch things when all of a sudden we have a vaccine and everyone is vaccinated. It’s going to take some time.” That's according to Hilary Godwin, dean of the University of Washington’s School of Public Health.

Some other predictions about the post COVID future:
  • We will probably continue to see more people wearing face masks than before the pandemic. Face masks were never a big part of our culture but that will likely change.

  • There will still be a lot of unknowns associated with any vaccines. Most vaccine development takes years. The pandemic has sped this process up dramatically meaning scientists and doctors will have to learn about the efficacy and effectiveness of any vaccine after it’s in distribution.

  • The actual distribution of a vaccine will require a supply chain that can handle a huge new draw on everything from syringes to needles to glass storage vials and stoppers.

  • Work culture and work-related travel expectations, which are already changing, will continue to evolve. The net effect will likely be fewer business trips and more remote work opportunities.

  • Large gatherings, especially sporting and entertainment events, likely won't start back up immediately. Most people will be somewhat wary of large gatherings and not everyone will be willing to be vaccinated.

  • We can expect a certain amount of psychological, societal and cultural impact. The Great Depression and World War II had significant impacts on our parents and grandparents. We can expect the same from the pandemic.

  • The country's public health system will be better prepared to handle future epidemics and pandemics. “We’ve learned a lot about our own public health systems and structures in this pandemic, and those things can only get better,” according to Aparna Kumar, a nurse-scientist and assistant professor at Thomas Jefferson University. 

  • Not everyone will feel the same about going back out in public, gathering in groups, or even being vaccinated. We'll still have a lot of individual, family, and community decision-making ahead of us.

  • The virus won’t go away completely. Viruses never do. And not everyone will be vaccinated.
While we wait for the future to arrive, the local news is pretty good, at least for the moment. As of August 6, New Mexico's seven-day rolling average of new cases (the percent change in new cases per day) was 0.94%. At her news conference last Thursday, the Governor announced that the state's spread rate had declined to 0.72, well below the 1.05 target. One reason the case count has fallen is increased efforts by residents to wear masks and to practice physical distancing. Officials at the news conference also credited the state’s contact tracing work.

What the state's numbers tell me is that, at least here at home, we know what to do to slow the spread of the virus. Wear a mask. Maintain physical distancing. Stay away from large gatherings. Basically, we need to keep doing the things that humans are not wired to do.

Face masks make it hard to communicate. In general, we tend to process faces as a whole, rather than focusing on individual features, says psychologist Rebecca Brewer, who studies the role of facial expressions in the way we communicate emotion at the Royal Holloway University of London. “When we cannot see the whole face, such holistic processing is disrupted.” Still, there are other sources of information that help us communicate non-verbally such as body posture, movement and context. Here's some information that might help unravel some other clues to what's really being said.

Cultural anthropologist Edward T. Hall studied the way people interact and found that physical distance is an important indicator of specific types of relationships. Intimate distance (up to 18 inches) is for hugging or whispering, personal distance (typically up to 2½ feet) is for interacting with good friends or family, social distance (typically four to seven feet) is for acquaintances, and public distance (12 to 25 feet) is used mainly for public speaking. While individuals may have preferences for more or less distance, in general, these are the proximities ingrained in our behaviors and social norms. Keeping everyone six feet away, or more, goes against much of who we are. This article offers some suggestions for coping with physical distancing, such as embracing our discomfort, adjusting our language, keeping things in perspective, appreciating all we’re learning, and valuing the people around us. Whatever the physical distance, being in community is what matters most, and community is what will help get us through.

As I've said before, this won't last forever (although some days it feels as though it already has). And I'm proud of the way Kitchen Angels volunteers and staff are working every day to keep each other, our clients and our community as safe as possible. We know what works. We simply need to keep doing it.

To each of you and the entire Kitchen Angels family, thank you.

In gratitude,
Thank you for your vigilance. We want you to stay safe, healthy and informed.
What is "Contact Tracing?"

The term shows up a lot as part of the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but not everyone is equally familiar with what it is.

In its broadest sense, contact tracing is "an old public health approach used to identify individuals who may have been exposed and who may be incubating a particular infection and who require treatment," as well as a method for identifying the people with whom a specific individual has been in contact, according to Arthur Reingold, MD, Professor of Epidemiology at the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley.

Contact tracing slows the spread of COVID-19 by letting people know they may have been exposed to the infection and should therefore monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. It is also used to facilitate people who may have been exposed to get tested, and it directs people to self-isolate if they have COVID-19 or to self-quarantine if they are a "close contact."

In the context of COVID-19, a "close contact" is anyone who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting from 48 hours (or two days) before they have any symptoms or test positive for the disease.

To learn more about contact tracing, check out this site at the CDC .
Before you return to volunteering . . .
ask yourself . . .

  1. Am I able to work a full shift wearing a face mask?
  2. Can I hear well enough from six feet away if the other person is speaking through a face mask?
  3. Am I willing to work a different shift than the one I previously worked?
  4. Can I commit to showing up to my shift on-time and without canceling at the last minute?
  5. Can I adapt to a new environment and new routine?
  6. Can I reliably communicate with the Volunteer Coordinator?
  7. Do I feel safe being back in the public sphere?
  8. Can I maintain appropriate risk-mitigating practices when I'm not at Kitchen Angels?

If you answer "NO" to any of these questions, you're not ready to return. If you're not sure, check with Lauren.