Coronavirus: Reaching Out and Staying Away

March 12, 2020
By Avi Rose

This week of all weeks, I’ve been serving on a criminal trial jury. It is a very serious task. And it has got me thinking about civic responsibility, a very helpful framework for considering the COVID-19 epidemic and how we need to respond to it.

By now, we all know the basics of maintaining safe hygiene, from frequent handwashing to finding creative new ways to greet each other warmly without hugging. We understand that the virus is here, and that while we can’t wish it away, we can and must do what we can to slow its spread. This is uncomfortable and inconvenient, yet necessary. And, it’s an act of caring: for ourselves, for our community, and for the most vulnerable among us.

We are undergoing a transition this week at JFCS East Bay. In order to continue providing as much support as possible, we are rapidly shifting toward interacting with clients by phone or video chat wherever possible. We have cancelled events and groups, moving some to online platforms. Even in internal meetings, we are trying to maintain some degree of social distance.

This is not in our comfort zone! As social workers and therapists, we are wired to closely connect with people, to show our caring and communicate in person. Yet we understand that at this moment, this is the best way to show our caring. We will continue to be here to provide support and guidance to our community, but in a different way for the time being.

One of our chief concerns for our clients is that those who tend to be isolated, will be even more so during this difficult time. It’s a very painful reality. You can help. If you have some time to offer phone support to vulnerable community members, most of whom are older, please let us know. We would be glad to welcome you to our team.

This is a challenging period of much uncertainty and anxiety. What a perfect time for us all to put our values into action.

I send my most fervent wishes for the health and safety of you and your families.