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A tough time for us all

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic on all of us are profound and life-altering.

It has been sobering to keep up with the day-by-day developments, and how it has taken thousands of lives already, and altered so many more in ways both subtle and profound.

Some of us have been laid off, furloughed or had their hours reduced at work, or we fear that may happen as the outbreak continues. For many of us who already live on the margins of being able to support ourselves and our families, those first-of-the-month rent payments and other bills are a struggle.

In our family, we discuss almost all but the smallest expenses — and the smallest, my wife and I are thinking twice about before making them. That’s what made celebrating our wedding anniversary earlier this week a challenge. In years past, we would have just planned to go for a nice, quiet dinner somewhere, and in recent years, with a child, we would have hired a sitter for a couple of hours and gone somewhere.

With those things not being possible this year, we opted to support a local restaurant and order curbside pickup, and then we had a picnic on the floor of our living room with our daughter.

One thing this period of our lives has given my family is more time to spend with each other. A lot of times under normal circumstances, our family’s schedules do not overlap, so we haven’t gotten to see each other and spend as much quality time with each other as we would like.

While that poses challenges when trying to work during the day — just a note, if you talk to me on the phone, expect to hear my cat, my daughter and one of her cartoons in the background. I thank you for your understanding.

For those of us with kids, we’re having to take an even larger role in their education. My daughter’s preschool program has continued. Her teachers send several videos per day with a few lessons, stories, songs and activities, and this week, she participated in the first of what will be weekly video meetings via Zoom with her teachers and classmates.

She liked seeing her friends on video, but asked when she would be able to see them again. We told her she would be able to see them on video again soon, but we know she was asking about seeing them in person at school.

We’re seeing growth in our daughter even during this period. As much as it would be easy for two working-from-home parents to let her sit in front of the TV all day, we’ve been making sure her daily routine includes the lessons she’s getting from school. I have to admit, my wife has taken the lead and has structured her day well.

The hardest thing, I think, for many of us, has been the social distancing. As much as we live in a virtual world already, it’s clear that we also crave interpersonal interactions. But it’s also clear that just two things work right now in slowing the spread of COVID-19 — 100 percent social distancing or 100 percent testing. Currently, we don’t have either.

Even if we don’t feel sick and may never overtly feel or notice symptoms, we can still carry those and spread them to others who are more vulnerable. That’s why we have to continue with social distancing to slow this down and give time to expand the supply of personal protective equipment, along with developing vaccines, treatments and expanding the testing capabilities to reduce pressures on hospitals and help those in need of care.

I would love to learn more about how things have changed for your family — what things have been easier for you to adapt to and what has posed challenges. Reach out to me at jimmy.laroue@suffolknewsherald.com.

As the health experts have been saying, this is going to be a difficult period for all of us, and it will get worse before it gets better. But we’re here for you — not only to bring you the news about what is happening in the community, but also, to share in your concerns and challenges.