MetroFocus: May 22, 2020

THE ETHICS OF LIFE IN LOCKDOWN

It’s hard to know how to act when the world as we know it is changing so rapidly. Cities have become acutely attentive to others in public spaces because we’ve been encouraged to be hyper-vigilant. Is that stranger practicing social distancing? Are they wearing a mask? Are they putting others at risk? Are they putting you at risk? The pandemic has forced everyone to rethink all of their normal behaviors and how they impact others. But what is right and wrong in this new world? Whose advice do you take? How strictly do you follow it? And how much room is there for human frailty when so much is riding on adhering to rules that may often feel more like guidelines? Tonight, from “quarantine shaming” to “quarantine fatigue,” bioethicist Dr. Elizabeth Yuko helps navigate the ethical questions of life in lockdown.

Aired on May 1 & May 22, 2020.

TRANSCRIPT

> UP NEXT, 'METROFOCUS.'

WE'RE WORKING FROM HOME, BUT WE'RE DEDICATED TO BRINGING YOU THE IMPORTANT STORIES ABOUT HOW OUR AREA IS AFFECTED BY CORONAVIRUS.

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY -- ♪

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

WHAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT IS WRONG IN THIS NEW COVID-19 WORLD?

WHOSE ADVICE DO YOU FOLLOW?

HOW STRICTLY DO YOU DO IT?

AND IS THERE ROOM FOR HUMAN FRAILTY WHEN SO MUCH SEEMS TO BE RIDING ON FOLLOWING THE RULES THAT CAN OFTEN FEEL MORE LIKE GUIDELINES.

DETERMINING INDIVIDUAL AND OUR COLLECTIVE MORAL COMPASS DURING THIS PANDEMIC HAS BEEN DIFFICULT, TO SAY THE LEAST.

SO HELPING PEOPLE NAVIGATE WHAT IS AN INCREASINGLY COMPLICATED WEB OF SOMETIMES CONFLICTING EMOTIONS IS DR. ELIZABETH YUKO, A BIOETHICIST AND ADJUNCT PROFESSOR OF ETHICS AS WELL AS CONTRIBUTING WRITER FOR ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE.

DR. YUKO, I WOULD LIKE TO WELCOME YOU TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

ABSOLUTELY.

SO FIRST I WANT TO START OFF BY SAYING I DISCOVERED YOUR WORK OBVIOUSLY FROM READING ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE, AND I WAS DRAWN TO A PIECE THAT YOU HAD RECENTLY WRITTEN.

IT WAS A FEATURE TITLED 'THE REASON YOU'RE SO EXHAUSTED IS MORAL FATIGUE.'

AND IN YOUR ARTICLE, YOU EXPLAIN HOW WE NOW LIVE IN THIS WORLD WHERE EVERY SMALL DECISION THAT EVERYONE MAKES SUDDENLY CARRIES THE WEIGHT OF LIFE AND DEATH ON IT.

AND IT'S CREATING A LEVEL OF EXHAUSTION AND FATIGUE THAT'S AFFECTING EVERYBODY.

SO WHAT I WANTED TO FIGURE OUT WAS HOW YOU WERE ABLE TO PUT WORDS TO SOMETHING THAT SO MANY OF US WERE STRUGGLING WITH BUT DIDN'T HAVE THE RIGHT LANGUAGE FOR.

THE CONCEPT OF MORAL FATIGUE, ALSO SOMETIMES KNOWN AS MORAL STRESS OR MORAL DISTRESS HAS BEEN AROUND IN THE ETHICS PHILOSOPHY AND PSYCHOLOGY LITERATURE FOR A WHILE NOW, AND IT'S USUALLY IN THE CONTEXT OF DEALING WITH MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS.

SO THE IDEA OF DOCTORS, NURSE, EMERGENCY WORKERS HAVING TO MAKE THESE LIFE-AND-DEATH DECISIONS ONE RIGHT AFTER ANOTHER THROUGHOUT THEIR DAY, OR HAVING TO MAKE DECISIONS THAT MAY GO AGAINST THEIR PERSONAL ETHICS OR SET OF ETHICS AND CAUSING STRESS AS A RESULT.

SO WHEN EVERYTHING STARTED HAPPENING WITH THE COVID PANDEMIC, I JUST KEPT HEARING FROM SO MANY PEOPLE HOW EXHAUSTED THEY WERE AND HOW WE'RE DEALING WITH BURNOUT ALREADY BEFORE ANY OF THIS STARTED LET ALONE BEFORE WE STARTED WORKING AT HOME AND HOME SCHOOLING AT THE SAME TIME.

AND AS I WAS THINKING THROUGH THAT, I THOUGHT YEAH, WELL, THAT'S ALL THE CASE, BUT ALSO, WE ALL HAVE TO TURN INTO ETHICISTS, BASICALLY OVERNIGHT WITH NO TRAINING.

AND WHAT I MEAN BY THAT IS THAT AS YOU MENTIONED, EVERY LITTLE DECISION WE MAKE NOW HAS MORAL CONSEQUENCES THAT COME WITH IT.

SO A TRIP TO THE GROCERY STORE ISN'T JUST OH, SHOULD I GO TO THE GROCERY STORE, YES OR NO?

IT'S COULD I POTENTIALLY BE AN ASYMPTOMATIC CARRIER?

COULD I POTENTIALLY GIVE THIS TO SOMEBODY ELSE?

WHAT SIDE OF THE STREET SHOULD I WORK ON THAT MIGHT BE LESS CROWDED?

IF I TOUCH THIS APPLE IN THE PRODUCE SECTION, WILL I PICK UP THE VIRUS FROM SOMEBODY ELSE AND THEN SPREAD IT TO SOMEONE ELSE?

SHOULD I USE A DELIVERY SERVICE OR SHOULD I GO IN PERSON TO HELP SUPPORT MY LOCAL GROCERY STORE?

THERE IS NOTHING THAT IS EASY ANYMORE.

EVERYTHING HAS THESE SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES.

AND HAVING TO THINK THROUGH THESE TYPES OF ISSUES ON A DAILY BASIS IS COMPLETELY EXHAUSTING.

AND IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT WE'RE USED TO REALLY THINKING ABOUT.

SO IT'S NOT AS IF PEOPLE ARE TALKING TO THEIR THERAPISTS OR FRIENDS AND THINK GOD, I HAVE MORAL FATIGUE THIS WEEK.

I HAVE TO MAKE SO MANY DIFFICULT DECISIONS.

YEAH.

IT'S SOMETHING WE HAVE TO TAKE A STEP BACK AND RECOGNIZE AND OH MY GOD, YEAH, THAT'S ACTUALLY HOW I'M FEELING RIGHT I KNOW.

WELL, ONE OF THE THINGS I ALSO LIKE ABOUT YOUR ARTICLES IS THAT YOU CONSULT A LOT OF DIFFERENT OTHER PROFESSIONALS IN THE FIELD FOR REFERENCES.

AND I WAS WONDERING IF ANY OF THEM HAD ANY ADVICE FOR WHAT IS SUDDENLY A WORLD OF AMATEUR ETHICISTS WHO ARE STRUGGLING TO JUST SOMETIMES PUT ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER WHEN IT COMES TO A TRIP TO THE GROCERY STORE OR, YOU KNOW, PERHAPS DO I ALSO GET GROCERIES FOR AN IMMUNOSUPPRESSED LOVED ONE.

DO I WASH EVERYTHING OR DO I NOT WASH EVERYTHING, DO I WASH MY HANDS, COVER MY FACE, ET CETERA?

YES.

I WAS VERY FORTUNATE TO SPEAK WITH A FEW WONDERFUL MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS FOR THE ARTICLE.

ONE IS DR. ADAM FREED AT MIDWESTERN UNIVERSITY, A CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST IN ARIZONA, AND HE POINTED OUT WAS THAT THESE SITUATIONS ARE USUALLY NO-WIN SITUATIONS.

IT'S NOT AS IF THERE WILL BE AN ANSWER THAT IS 100% CORRECT.

AND THAT IN ITSELF IS STRESSFUL.

SO IT'S NOT JUST THAT WE HAVE TO PUT OURSELVES THROUGH THIS DIFFICULT DECISION-MAKING PROCESS.

IT'S ALSO KNOWING THERE IS NO IDEAL OUTCOME.

AND I THINK JUST RECOGNIZING THAT AND KIND OF OWNING THAT NO MATTER HOW WELL WE THINK THROUGH THIS, THERE IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES TO OUR DECISION IS ONE WAY TO HELP.

AND HE ALSO SUGGESTED JUST ALSO TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS SO UNPRECEDENTED.

WE'VE NEVER EXPERIENCED ANYTHING LIKE THIS BEFORE.

THERE IS NO ROAD MAP.

THERE IS NO, YOU KNOW, GUIDELINES FOR HOW TO MENTALLY COPE WITH LIVING IN A PANDEMIC IN 2020.

AND SO JUST TO KIND OF ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THIS IS DIFFICULT AND UNPRECEDENTED IS HELPFUL.

AND ANOTHER PERSON I INTERVIEWED IS DR. DION METZGER, A PSYCHIATRIST IN ATLANTA.

AND SHE POINTED OUT THAT WITH THIS MUCH ANXIETY, EVERYTHING SEEMS URGENT.

SO NOT ONLY ARE WE MAKING ALL OF THESE DIFFICULT DECISIONS, BUT THEY ALL SEEM LIKE A PRIORITY.

AND SO HER ADVICE IS TO BREAK IT DOWN AND NOT TRY TO TAKE ON EVERYTHING AT ONCE.

AND JUST TRY TO GIVE YOURSELF SOME SPACE WHEN YOU'RE MAKING THESE DECISIONS, BECAUSE THIS IS -- WE HAVE NEVER HAD TO FUNCTION LIKE THIS.

YEAH.

AND LITERALLY EVERYTHING.

I WAS SORT OF REALIZING THAT NO LONGER CAN I OPERATE ON AUTOPILOT.

I'M NOW REALIZING LIKE I DID FOR SO MUCH OF MY EVERYDAY LIVING.

YEAH.

BUT I DO WANT TO ASK ALSO ABOUT THE WAY THAT THIS HAS ALL BEEN FRAMED.

THE PANDEMIC HAS BEEN FREQUENTLY REFERRED TO AS SOMETHING THAT WE WILL ALL GET THROUGH, BUT EVEN AFTER THE VACCINE, WHICH WE HOPE WILL COME WITHIN THE NEXT 12 TO 18 MONTHS, THE LINGERING EFFECTS OF COVID-19 COULD BE MUCH, MUCH LONGER, AND I WAS WONDERING HOW DO YOU SEE THAT PLAYING OUT FOR NOT JUST US INDIVIDUALLY, BUT US AS A SOCIETY?

I WOULDN'T BE SURPRISED IF WE SAW SOME SORT OF COLLECTIVE TRAUMA OR GRIEF SIMILAR TO AFTER 9/11 OR AFTER THE GREAT DEPRESSION OR AFTER A WAR WHEN WE'VE ALL JUST BEEN THROUGH SOMETHING TOGETHER INVOLVING HIGH LEVELS OF TRAUMA.

AND IT'S SOMETHING THAT WE CARRY WITH OURSELVES FOR A WHILE.

AND WHETHER THAT MANIFESTED ITSELF IN, YOU KNOW, BETTER HAND WASHING PRACTICES, WHICH WOULD BE FANTASTIC, IF THAT'S SOMETHING THAT RESULTS FROM THIS, OR JUST, YOU KNOW, THE CONSTANT ANXIETY ABOUT, OKAY, ALWAYS HAVE TO HAVE THAT EXTRA PACKAGE OF TOILET PAPER IN CASE THIS HAPPENS AGAIN.

I THINK THIS IS GOING TO BE WITH US FOR A LONG TIME.

ARE THERE ANY -- AND I HATE TO SAY THIS, BECAUSE IT FEELS SO AWKWARD.

ARE THERE ANY POSITIVES COMING OUT OF THIS?

FOR EXAMPLE, YOU MENTIONED THINGS T FACT THAT THINGS LIKE ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION ARE NOW BECOMING PART OF PEOPLE'S WELLNESS VOCABULARY THAT SIMPLY DIDN'T EXIST BEFORE.

IS IT AT LEAST A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF OUR MENTAL HEALTH SOMETHING THAT COULD BE A POSITIVE?

YES, I DO THINK THERE ARE SOME POTENTIAL POSITIVES TO COME OUT OF THAT.

MENTAL HEALTH IS DEFINITELY ONE OF THEM.

AS SOMEONE WITH ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION ALL THE TIME, PANDEMIC OR NOT, IT HAS BEEN INTERESTING TO SEE -- WELL NOT INTERESTING, SAD, UNFORTUNATELY, TO SEE OTHER PEOPLE STRUGGLING WITH THE SAME THINGS AND OTHER PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DEALING WITH ON A DAILY BASIS.

SO I'M HOPING THAT THERE MIGHT BE MORE EMPATHY FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH ANXIETY, DESUPPRESSION AND OTHER MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS MOVING FORWARD FROM THIS ALONG THE SAME LINES.

THE AVAILABILITY OF TELEHEALTH THERAPY I THINK IS BECOMING MUCH MORE WIDESPREAD RIGHT NOW.

IT'S BEEN USED FOR YEARS NOW, BUT THANKS TO THIS PARTICULAR SITUATION, IT MAY BE MORE WIDELY ACCEPTED.

AND THAT COULD HAVE POSITIVE BENEFITS FOR PEOPLE WHO MAY NOT HAVE ACCESS TO MENTAL HEALTH THERAPY IN THEIR TOWN.

THERE IS THAT ALSO.

SOMETHING THAT DR. MICHAEL BAUER, ONE OF THE PHILOSOPHERS I INTERVIEWED FOR THE MORAL FATIGUE ARTICLE POINTED OUT IS THAT PART OF THIS IS COMING FROM US REALIZING HOW TRULY INTERCONNECTED WE ARE AS PEOPLE.

YEAH.

AND THIS IS NOT NEW.

WE'VE ALWAYS BEEN LIKE THIS, BUT IT HAS TAKEN A SITUATION LIKE THIS FOR US TO TRULY GRASP HOW MUCH YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR CAN AFFECT SOMEBODY ELSE.

SO IDEALLY MOVING FORWARD, WE HAVE AT LEAST SOME OF THAT WITH US STILL.

AND, YOU KNOW, TAKE OTHER PEOPLE'S NEEDS INTO CONSIDERATION.

I'M SPEAKING WITH DR.

ELIZABETH YUKO, A BIOETHICIST, A CONTRIBUTOR TO ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE.

I ALSO WANT TO TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT MAYBE EXTERNAL MORAL FATIGUE, AND THIS IS WHEN WE SEE OTHER PEOPLE WHO PERHAPS AREN'T FOLLOWING THE RULES THE WAY THAT WE THINK THEY SHOULD OR FOLLOWING THE GUIDELINES DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU ARE IN THE COUNTRY, AND HOW OUR REACTION TO OTHER PEOPLE COULD ALSO BE CREATING ANOTHER LEVEL OF FATIGUE.

DO I SAY SOMETHING TO THAT PERSON?

IF YOU'RE IN NEW YORK CITY, DO YOU CALL 311?

IS THAT ALSO WEARING ON US?

OH, ABSOLUTELY, BECAUSE THAT'S ALSO PART OF THIS INTERCONNECTEDNESS THAT WE -- AS MUCH AS WE WORRY ABOUT OURSELVES AND CONTROL OUR OWN PERSONAL SITUATION, WE CAN'T CONTROL EVERYBODY ELSE.

AND THAT'S BASICALLY THE FOUNDATION OF PUBLIC HEALTH, THAT IN ORDER TO, YOU KNOW, BE HEALTHY AS A POPULATION, WE ALL HAVE TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS.

AND THAT IN ITSELF HAS BEEN A MAJOR SHIFT IN MIND-SET FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE BECAUSE WE'RE SO CONDITIONED TO, UNION, RELY ON OUR OWN AUTONOMY AND AGENCY AND THINK I MAKE THE DECISIONS FOR MY BODY AND WHAT'S BEST FOR ME, AND THAT'S IT.

AND IN A LOT OF CASES, BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, THAT'S FINE.

BUT NOW WE'RE AT A PLACE WHERE YOUR ACTS OR LACK OF WILLINGNESS TO TAKE SOME ACTIONS COULD ADVERSELY AFFECT OTHER PEOPLE'S HEALTH AND THE PUBLIC'S GOOD.

SO WE HAVE TO KIND OF LIMIT OUR OWN PERSONAL LIBERTIES AND GREEMD FOR THE GOOD OF PUBLIC HEALTH, WHICH IS SOMETHING WE'RE JUST NOT USED TO DOING.

AND KIND OF ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THAT, WHAT YOU WERE MENTIONING IS NOT BEING ABLE TO CONTROL WHAT OTHER PEOPLE DO.

AND THAT IS EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING.

AND I THINK MOST OF US HAS HAD DISCUSSIONS WITH FAMILY MEMBERS, FRIENDS, OR NEIGHBORS, ESPECIALLY EARLIER ON IN THE PANDEMIC WHEN THEY WEREN'T TAKING THIS AS SERIOUSLY, WHEN THEY JUST DIDN'T THINK IT WOULD AFFECT THEM PERSONALLY, AND THAT'S VERY STRESSFUL FOR A PERSON TO HAVE WHEN ONE OF THEIR LOVED ONES DOESN'T REALLY TAKE THIS MAJOR THREAT TO THEIR HEALTH SERIOUSLY, AND SO, YEAH, IT'S ALSO KIND OF JUST COMING TO TERMS WITH YOU CAN CONTROL YOURSELF AND YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR, BUT YOU CAN'T, YOU KNOW, FORCE OTHER PEOPLE TO DO THINGS AS MUCH AS YOU WANT TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT.

WHICH, AGAIN, SEEMS LIKE SOMETHING WE ALL KNOW, BUT YET AT THE SAME TIME WHEN YOU NOW SEE PEOPLE WHO YOU MAY KNOW THAT ARE DOING THINGS THAT MIGHT BE DETRIMENTAL TO NOT JUST THE IMMEDIATE HEALTH OF A PARTICULAR FAMILY, BUT THE PUBLIC HEALTH IN GENERAL.

IT BECOMES A THING.

YEAH, AND WE HAVE SO MANY SOURCES OF ANXIETY RIGHT NOW, AND THAT'S ABSOLUTELY ONE OF THEM, BECAUSE YEAH, YOU COULD BE DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT YOURSELF AND THEN PASS SOMEONE ON THE STREET WHO HAS NOT BEEN DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT AND GET SICK AS A RESULT.

SO IT'S VERY STRESSFUL.

WELL, WE'RE NOW STARTING TO SLOWLY IN NEW YORK MOVE TOWARDS THE IDEA OF REOPENING, AND PART OF THAT IS DETERMINING WHO HAS IMMUNITY.

YOU ALSO WROTE ABOUT THE POTENTIAL DANGERS OF A TWO-TIERED SOCIETY OF THE IMMUNE AND THE UNIMMUNE.

AND I WAS WONDERING WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DANGERS THAT YOU AT LEAST CAN SEE IF WE DON'T GET THIS RIGHT?

SO THERE HAS BEEN SOME TALK HERE, AS WELL AS IN OTHER COUNTRIES ABOUT IMPLEMENTING AN IMMUNITY CARD SYSTEM.

SO ONCE YOU PASS AN ANTIBODY TEST THAT SHOWS THAT YOU HAVE SURVIVED COVID AND NOW HAVE THE ANTIBODIES YOU NEED TO BECOME IMMUNE, THAT YOU MAY BE ABLE TO REENTER SOCIETY IN A CERTAIN WAY.

AND RIGHT OFF THE BAT, ANYTHING THAT COULD CREATE ANY FURTHER DISPARITIES IN OUR SOCIETY RIGHT NOW JUST GIVES ME PAUSE BECAUSE WE'RE ALREADY AT A POINT WHERE ESPECIALLY WITH THE PANDEMIC, WE'RE SEEING SUCH DRASTIC ECONOMIC DISPARITIES, HEALTH DISPARITIES, RACIAL DISPARITIES, AND THIS MIGHT ADD OR COULD ADD ANOTHER LEVEL TO THAT, CREATING AS YOU MENTIONED, THE CLASS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE IMMUNE VERSUS THOSE WHO AREN'T IMMUNE, AND THOSE WHO ARE IMMUNE WOULD POTENTIALLY HAVE LEGAL RIGHTS THAT OTHER PEOPLE WOULDN'T HAVE, LIKE BEING ABLE TO RETURN TO WORK OR GO OUT IN PUBLIC.

AND THAT IF NOT DONE PROPERLY COULD BE VERY STIGMATIZING.

ABSOLUTELY, ABSOLUTELY.

AND ALSO, IS THERE ANY CONCERN ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT THE IMMUNITY CARDS WOULD EVEN BE A RELIABLE SYSTEM?

BECAUSE MY MIND IMMEDIATELY GOES TO FORGERY.

YES, THAT IS -- LOGISTICALLY, THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS TO WORK OUT.

NEVER MIND THE SCIENCE ASPECT.

WE'RE NOT QUITE THERE YET IN TERMS OF --

OF COURSE.

AND ENSURING THAT IT'S IMMUNITY.

SO THAT WE HAVE TO FIGURE OUT FIRST.

BUT YOU'RE TOTALLY RIGHT.

THE LOGISTICS WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT.

SO WHO WOULD GET THESE CARDS?

WHO WOULD BE THE BODY RESPONSIBLE FOR GIVING THEM OUT.

HOW EASY WOULD THEY BE TO FORGE?

WOULD THEY HAVE A PHOTO ID OR SOME SORT OF FRIENDSHIP CHIP THAT WOULD MAKE SURE THAT ONLY THE PERSON THAT WAS ISSUED THIS CARD IS ABLE TO USE IT.

AND IT'S NOT LIKE, YOU KNOW, HAVING A FAKE ID.

NOT THAT THAT'S GOOD, BUT IT'S NOT LIKE HAVING A FAKE DRIVER'S LICENSE TO TRY TO GET INTO A BAR.

IF YOU HAVE A FAKE IMMUNITY CARD AND ARE POTENTIALLY SYMPTOMATIC OR ASYMPTOMATIC OR PRESYMPTOMATIC YOURSELF, THAT DEFEATS THE PURPOSE, AND YOU'RE GOING TO BE OUT IN SOCIETY SPREADING THIS VIRUS.

SO IT'S BEYOND JUST HAVING THIS CARD.

WITHOUT THE ANTIBODIES, IT'S A MUCH BIGGER ISSUE.

I ALSO WANTED TO ASK, THERE IS NOW A CONCEPT THAT I SEEM TO SEE FLOATING AT LEAST ON SOCIAL MEDIA, AND THAT IS OF QUARANTINE FATIGUE, AND THAT EVEN IN CITIES LIKE NEW YORK, WHERE THERE IS STILL THE SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES STILL IN PLACE, PEOPLE ARE STARTING FOR LACK OF A BETTER DESCRIPTION BREAK, AND THEY'RE STARTING TO JUST ESSENTIALLY OPEN UP THE CITY ON THEIR OWN BY NOT ADHERING TO SOME OF THE DISTANCING RULES IN TERMS OF GATHERING, ET CETERA.

SO WITH THE SCIENCE NOT QUITE THERE YET, DO YOU SEE ANY I GUESS PROBLEMS WITH THE WAY THAT PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO CREATE SOME SENSE OF NORMALCY?

IS IT NATURAL FOR US TO BE FLAILING AGAINST WHAT HAS BEEN PUT IN PLACE FOR OUR BEST HEALTH?

AND IS THAT -- OR IS THAT A SIGN OF PERHAPS A PROBLEM THAT WE'RE SEEING IN SOCIETY?

I THINK IT'S A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING.

THIS IS SO UNPRECEDENTED, WE'VE NEVER BEEN ASKED TO STAY IN OUR HOMES FOR THIS LONG IN OUR LIFETIME, REALLY.

AND BECAUSE THE SCIENCE SIDE IS STILL IN DEVELOPMENT, I MEAN, WE'VE NEVER MADE THIS MUCH PROGRESS IN TERMS OF IDENTIFYING AND TRYING TO COMBAT A VIRUS REALLY EVER.

IN THEORY GOING VERY QUICKLY, BUT WE'RE ALL ABOUT INSTANT FIXES AND SCIENCE UNFORTUNATELY IS NOT AN INSTANT FIX IN TERMS OF THE RESEARCH.

BECAUSE WE'RE NOT THERE YET, AS YOU MENTIONED, PEOPLE DO WANT TO TAKE THINGS INTO THEIR OWN HANDS AND START GOING OUTSIDE AGAIN.

SATURDAY WAS GORGEOUS.

THERE WAS A LOT OF PEOPLE OUTSIDE, A LOT OF PEOPLE IN PARKS.

AND IT'S -- YEAH, IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO SAY TO SOMEBODY WHO IS STRUGGLING MENTALLY NO, GO BACK IN YOUR HOUSE, YOU HAVE TO.

BUT AT THIS POINT, BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE A VACCINE, AND BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE EVEN A GOLD STANDARD ANTIBODY TEST, SOCIAL DISTANCING AND QUARANTINING IS OUR BEST TREATMENT -- OR NOT TREATMENT, OUR BEST CHANCE OF STOPPING THE SPREAD.

AND WE'VE BEEN SEEING IT WORK.

SO THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT THE TIME TO GET LAX WITH THAT BECAUSE, YEAH, WE'RE NOT SURE WHAT'S GOING TO WORK, AND WE DO HAVE A TOOL THAT WE KNOW WORKS, WE HAVE TO STICK WITH IT UNTIL SOMETHING BETTER COMES ALONG.

DO YOU SEE A SITUATION AT LEAST UNTIL WE ARE ABLE TO GET A VACCINE?

AND THEN AGAIN, THAT'S DEPENDING ON HOW WELL THE VACCINE WORKS, ADMINISTERED, ET CETERA, BUT DO YOU SEE A LACK OF VITAL TRUST STARTING TO FRAY I GUESS AS PEOPLE STRUGGLE WITH THESE ISSUES IN TERMS OF THEIR PERSONAL BEHAVIOR AND OF COURSE THEIR BEHAVIOR AND HOW IT AFFECTS SOCIETY?

YES.

I THINK WE'RE ALL DEALING WITH SO MANY THINGS RIGHT NOW THAT IT MAKES SENSE THAT WE MAY BE NOT AS TRUSTING OF OTHER PEOPLE BECAUSE WE REALLY ARE SO DEPENDENT ON EACH OTHER RIGHT NOW IN TERMS OF RELYING ON OTHER PEOPLE TO CONTINUE TO PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING AND STAY INSIDE.

AND WHEN SOMEONE DOESN'T DO THAT AND CAN SPREAD THE ILLNESS, IT KIND OF GIVES US A REASON TO BE SUSPICIOUS OF OTHER PEOPLE.

IT'S KIND OF A SAFETY MECHANISM FOR US NOW IS JUST REALIZING THAT NOT EVERYONE IS BEHAVING IN THE WAY THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BEHAVE RIGHT NOW.

AND, YEAH, I CAN SEE WHERE PEOPLE ARE COMING FROM WITH THAT.

I WANT TO TURN TO NOW ANOTHER ISSUE THAT I UNDERSTAND THAT MOST NEW YORKERS AT THIS POINT KNOW SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN TOUCHED BY THE CORONAVIRUS.

AND OF COURSE THAT'S NOT THE ONLY -- I BELIEVE THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH, BUT NOT THE ONLY CAUSE OF DEATH.

SO THE ISSUE OF GRIEF.

AS A SOCIETY, WE ALL HAVE OR AS INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS WE ALL HAVE BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO CERTAIN RITUALS, CERTAIN CULTURAL PRACTICES, CERTAIN THINGS THAT WE'RE USED TO BEING ABLE TO DO TO SAY GOODBYE TO A LOVED ONE.

AND THAT'S NO LONGER AVAILABLE TO US.

HOW IS GRIEF CHANGING DURING THE PANDEMIC?

OR IS IT CHANGING?

IT IS, AND THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT LEVELS OF GRIEF TO ADDRESS THE ONE YOU MENTIONED WHERE YOU LOSE SOMEBODY RIGHT NOW DURING THIS PANDEMIC, WHETHER OR NOT IT'S TO COVID, OUR WHOLE SOCIETAL SCRIPT FOR GRIEVING AND MOURNING HAS BEEN COMPLETELY TURNED ON ITS HEAD.

MOST CULTURES WILL HAVE SOME SORT OF GUIDELINES AS TO WHEN THE BODY SHOULD BE BURIED OR CREMATED, HAVE A MEMORIAL, HAVING A MASS, SITTING SHIVA, AND PRETTY MUCH ALL OF THESE THINGS INVOLVE GATHERING TOGETHER IN PERSON WITH OTHER PEOPLE.

AND THAT'S NOT SOMETHING WE CAN DO RIGHT NOW.

SO OUR GRIEF WHEN YOU LOSE SOMEONE IS JUST IN THIS WEIRD LIMBO PHASE WHERE YOU JUST KIND OF HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT A PERSON HAS PASSED, EVEN THOUGH YOU MAY NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO BE WITH THEM WHEN THEY PASSED OR EVEN HAVE THE REMAINS AFTERWARD.

AND THAT'S JUST SOMETHING COMPLETELY NEW AND DIFFERENT FOR US RIGHT NOW.

AND THEN OF COURSE SOCIETAL GRIEF.

THERE IS SO MUCH THAT I FEEL AS THOUGH SOCIETY IS GRIEVING.

NOT JUST IN TERMS OF THE ISSUE OF DEATH, BUT SO MANY THINGS THAT WE ARE GRIEVING THE LOSS OF.

I RECENTLY SPOKE TO A 10-YEAR-OLD WHO PRETTY MUCH TOLD ME SHE FELT LIKE SUMMER WAS CANCELED WITH SO MANY EVENTS THAT ARE BEING CANCELED OR POSTPONED, ET CETERA.

YES.

THERE WAS AN ARTICLE IN THE HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW A FEW WEEKS AGO THAT IDENTIFIED WHAT THE FEELING WE'RE ALL FEELING IS GRIEF AND LOSS OF NORMALCY.

AND LOSS OF MILESTONES SO PEOPLE WHO WOULD BE GRADUATING FROM HIGH SCHOOL OR COLLEGE DON'T HAVE, YOU KNOW, THE GRADUATION CEREMONY LIKE THEY HAD ANTICIPATED, WEDDINGS BEING CANCELED, OR EVEN NOT BEING ABLE TO SEE YOUR FRIENDS ON A REGULAR BASIS, I THINK PEOPLE ARE GRIEVING.

OF COURSE GRIEF IS ON A SPECTRUM.

SO IT'S NOT SAYING MISSING BEING ABLE TO GO TO YOUR LOCAL BAR IS THE SAME AS MISSING A RELATIVE WHO'S PASSED AWAY OR THE ABILITY TO GRIEVE THAT PERSON IN A WAY THAT WE'RE USED TO.

BUT IT'S JUST SOMETHING THAT IS SO PERVASIVE NOW THAT IT'S JUST INFILTRATED ALL ASPECTS OF OUR LIVE, REALLY, WHETHER OR NOT IT'S RELATED TO SOMEONE'S ACTUAL DEATH.

OF COURSE.

NOW THERE ARE NUMEROUS DIFFERENT WAYS THAT WE STILL DON'T EVEN UNDERSTAND THAT THIS PANDEMIC COULD CREATE PERMANENT CHANGES IN OUR LIVES.

AND ONE THING THAT I DID FIND INTERESTING YOU HAD WRITTEN ABOUT IS HOW PREVIOUS PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS HAD LITERALLY CHANGED THE WAY WE LIVE IN OUR HOMES, IE THE INDIVIDUAL BATHROOM.

AND SINCE I WANTED TO SORT OF END ON A POSITIVE NOTE OR A HAPPY ONE, I WAS WONDERING IF YOU COULD EXPLAIN A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW THE BATHROOM WE KNOW TODAY IS ACTUALLY PART OF -- IT CAME OUT OF PUBLIC HEALTH.

YES, WELL, BATHROOMS DO MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY.

AND IT IS A GREAT FINALE.

YES.

I WROTE AN ARTICLE FOR CITY LAB ON HOW INFECTIOUS DISEASE HAS BASICALLY SHAPED THE MODERN AMERICAN BATHROOM AS WE KNOW IT TODAY, AND TO MAKE A VERY LONG STORY SHORT, WHEN WE STARTED FIRST HAVING INDOOR BATHROOMS IN THE HOMES OF THE WEALTHY, OF COURSE, EVERYTHING WAS COVERED IN WOOD BECAUSE WE DIDN'T WANT TO THINK ABOUT A BATHROOM AND WHAT WE DID IN THERE.

SO EVERYTHING WAS DESIGNED, THIS WAS VICTORIAN TIMES TO LOOK LIKE FANCY FURNITURE.

ORNATE CARVINGS, YOU WALK IN, THIS IS A NICE ROOM.

BUT THE PROBLEM WITH THAT IS WOOD IS POROUS.

IT'S DIFFICULT TO CLEAN.

PEOPLE ALSO HAD TO HAVE HEAVY DRAPES AND WALLPAPER.

AND ONCE GERM THEORY REALLY ROSE TO PROMINENCE, PEOPLE STARTED TO UNDERSTAND A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THE WAY WE DESIGN OUR HOMES HAVING AN IMPACT ON OUR HEALTH.

SO FIRST THESE CHANGES WERE MADE IN HOSPITALS AND SANATORIA WHERE PEOPLE WERE GOING TO CURE THINGS LIKE TUBERCULOSIS, HAVING THINGS LIKE WHITE TILES AND FLOORS, THINGS THAT WERE EASILY WIPED DOWN AND CLEANED AND A LOT OF LIGHT AND VENTILATION.

AND THESE WENT FROM THE HOSPITAL INTO THE HOMES IN THE FORM OF TAKING OFF DAMP WALLPAPER THAT COULD HAVE HAD ARSENIC IN IT ANYWAY IN FAVOR OF WHITE TILES AND WHITE WALLS THAT NOT JUST LOOK CLEAN BUT ALSO -- AND ARE EASY TO CLEAN, BUT IF YOU SEE DIRT ON IT, THEN YOU KNOW YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO CLEAN IT.

KIND OF A LITTLE SIGNAL LIKE THAT.

OKAY.

WELL UNFORTUNATELY, WE'RE GOING HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE, ALTHOUGH I LOVE THE BATHROOM STORY.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME AND FOR SHARING SOME OF THE ETHICS THAT WE DIDN'T EVEN REALIZE THAT WE WERE DEALING WITH AS AMATEUR ETHICISTS.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

ABSOLUTELY.

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'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

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'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

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Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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