Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Neighbor Reluctant To Share Reason for Illness

DEAR HARRIETTE: I heard a doctor likening the coronavirus to the AIDS crisis the other day. At first I thought they were crazy; obviously they are very different things. But I listened some more, and what this doctor was saying is that there was a terrible stigma attached to people with AIDS, so much so that people were reluctant to say that they had the disease. Now that same thing seems true for people who have COVID-19. My neighbor, for example, has been deathly ill. I’m pretty sure he has it. But neither he nor his family will talk about it. I think if he does have it, everybody should be more cautious around him. Not to make him a pariah but to protect the rest of us from possibly catching it. Am I wrong to feel that way? How can I be a good neighbor and protect my family from possibly getting infected? -- Avoiding Hysteria

DEAR AVOIDING HYSTERIA: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has talked about how the AIDS crisis and COVID-19 bear some similarities. Both the reach of the diseases and the stigma attached to them can be compared.

You are right to be concerned about your family’s health in relation to your sick neighbor. Follow the precautions as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, especially keeping your distance and keeping your home, door knobs and all surfaces clean. What you shouldn’t do is shun him. Call and ask if he needs anything. If he is isolated at home and ill, check to see if you can bring him food or other supplies that you leave at his door. Be attentive from a distance.

Read more in: Covid 19 | Friends & Neighbors

DEAR HARRIETTE: My family rents a house in a beach community every summer. When the pandemic hit, I did not cancel our reservation because I was hoping that things would be opened up by then. Now that summer is almost here, it’s still uncertain whether we can actually get in the water at the beach, but I feel like I should still take my family away. I see reports of people hanging out on the beach in large numbers, but we aren’t going to a place like that. I have young kids, so I can control their activities. I think they need to get outside and have some fun. We live in an apartment in the city. What do you think? -- Going to the Beach

DEAR GOING TO THE BEACH: Check to see what the guidelines are for the community you will be visiting. Some beaches are establishing markers to make it easier for people to practice social distancing while they are outside. I agree that it could be good for your family’s mental health to go to a place where you can enjoy the open air. Just stay vigilant. Don’t let your children out of your sight. Enforce wearing masks whenever they are around other people -- even at the beach. This may be difficult, but if they break the rules, take them inside. That may be punishment enough to get them to keep the masks on the next time you allow them to go outside.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Covid 19