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Yale 62

The Question of the Quarter: (Sent to 25% of the class on August 21, 2020) Please share with us how these recent months in the coronavirus pandemic have affected you. Maybe in bad ways, maybe in neutral or good ways. How has your life been affected?

About 41% of the random quarter of the class to whom we sent this question opened the email, while 8 actually replied to it. Responses are below, in order of receipt (earliest at top of the page).

David Bingham (Aug 21, 2020, 2:30 PM):

Class of ’62 (what a great class!):

My personal life has continued to be fulfilling. Living in a rural community and in a state at relatively lower risk from the Covid virus, my personal life has changed very little. One granddaughter did get the virus and has recovered. Annie and I miss hugging family members, but have kept in close touch with those living further away through zoom, and have been able to have occasional socially-distanced out-door meals with those family and friends who live nearby. We have been really fortunate.

However, this pandemic has focused my life more than ever on working for better leadership in our state and federal government. As a physician who worked in a community (Norwich, CT) with a diverse population which is disproportionately at risk, with many who have lost jobs and thus lost their insurance, I am very concerned about the many former patients who now have inadequate medical insurance or no insurance at all. The Affordable Care Act has helped, but is not enough.

So I appreciate the opportunity to use this forum to plead with my classmates to support a plan for universal health insurance to overcome the systemic impacts of policies on our communities of color and poverty, policies that have favored insurance corporations and their investors over the health of our citizens.

In addition, my lifelong work on conservation issues (primarily with the CT League of Conservation Voters, which I co-chair) has now been seen more clearly as a series of policies and achievements that have been systemically compromised by those special interests that focus on profit and freedom from regulations and taxes, while neglecting those who are stuck in communities where the land, air and water are unhealthy. Our community would not be having as severe problems fighting for survival from the virus, if we had done a better job eliminating brownfields, diesel fumes and toxics in our environment, problems that are especially common in our underserved communities.

So I plead with my classmates who are about to vote this fall to look at candidates through a larger lens, recognizing the effects of environmental and health injustice, and the impacts of a deeply flawed health insurance system, candidates that recognize the importance of our communities of color to our whole economy.

It has been exciting to see our young adult populations speaking out strongly and involving their generation in making our democracy a “more perfect union.” They need our support and encouragement.

David Bingham, MD

Chip Neville (Aug 21, 2020, 3:58 PM):

The good news is that we did not contract COVID-19. But otherwise, we have been affected in bad ways. We were shut down in the retirement community Judi and I live in, but it has just opened up, so things are a bit better now. We can leave to shop or go to medical appointments without being quarantined, which is a relief. We can have visitors in our apartment, but we can only have 1 visitor a day. The dining room has been open for a couple of weeks; no more eating on the stove top in our apartment, but we can only have two to a table, and we have an assigned time to eat. Breakfast is open seating, but only 15 diners at a time are allowed in the dining room, and if there is no more room we have to wait. The social isolation has been bad for many residents, and they have visibly aged, which is disturbing. Because Judi and I have each other. we have fortunately not been affected by this.

PS: Some good news is that some of the residents here who aged so much have recovered, now that much of the social isolation has ended.

Willard Taylor (Aug 21, 2020, 5:16 PM):

Affected us in many ways.

My youngest daughter and her family more or less kidnapped me in early March and drove from New York City up to Connecticut. Got to spend more time with them, particularly my grandchildren than I had in many years. Then joined by my older daughter and her family. For most of March and all of April, May and June. So that was great. But the absence of sociability outside of family was distressing, and sometimes I would end up calling friends who I had not spoken to for years just to make sure we were both still alive.

Came back to the City in mid-July. We live in the West Village, which may be the best spot in the City during the pandemic. Many nearby restaurants open for outdoor dining, minimal traffic. So life in the City, at least for us, is not at all bad – in fact, very pleasant to have dinner outside. But the pandemic still hangs over everything every day. Went to my office one day to find some papers – it was like visiting a ghost town. No one there except security personnel. Lights generally out, etc.

And who knows what the future will be – New York City is very resilient, but will the cultural life return as it was? Carnegie Hall? Lincoln Center? When will the restaurants open for indoor dining (or will they continue to serve outdoors with heaters)? When will those who have fled return?

Willard Taylor

John Hatch (Aug 22, 2020, 10:15 AM):

My wife and I live in our own unit in an 100+ acre continuing care retirement community with 1200 residents and staff of 800, two ponds, an arboretum, pathways, lawns and gardens. We are free to walk about, garden, meet and talk with neighbors — maintaining masking and social distance — and while the gym, pool and social events are closed or non-existent, campus-based ZOOM meetings and social engagements continue but are altered to fit the circumstances — more movies on the campus’s TV station for example. External activities are curtailed or ended (my weekly role as a middle school teacher’s aide), and though I could continue to attend church I don’t ZOOM in, and though NGO board and committee meetings are not in person they are ZOOMed and continue.

On the negative side, like many classmates I suspect, a family gathering to celebrate turning 80 was ditched, as have been trips to visit family in Massachusetts from our home in Maryland. A long planned trip to see distant—literally and figuratively— relatives and The Garden Route of South Africa had to be scrapped. On the plus side the containment has provided a big stretch of time which has allowed me to excavate the various postage stamps I have amassed in the 60+ years since I put one in an album. Sorting, soaking, and relearning a lot of geography and history has been interesting; a renewed appreciation of the powers of computer search engines developed; and my wife is delighted with the reduction of boxes and lightly filled albums. Finally, the virus has provided the time and the focus I needed to study/discuss/read and participate in workshops on racism which have arisen from BlackLivesMatters. That is time and focus I might not have “found” otherwise so as to avoid confronting the issues and my awareness and contribution to the problem.

Roman Weil (Aug 24, 2020, 4:50 PM):

Macro.  The largest impact is the whack the Pandemic has administered to university budgets, including the one where I’ve taught for the last six years—University of California San Diego—which makes my elective courses disposable.  The major blow is not to my pocket book but to brain engagement.  Eighteen months ago, the School of Management realized that it had promised the State of California that it would offer a course called “Recent Developments in the Practice and Regulation of Auditing.”  It looked around and asked the faculty, “Who knows how to teach this course?”  No one.  Then it asked, “Whom do we figure can learn how to teach this course by next Winter term?”  Roman.  So, I learned how to teach the course and did it.  A year earlier than that … (READ MORE)

Martin Ressinger (Aug. 24, 5:39 PM):

Definitely in a bad way. I am now a prisoner in my own country. As the US degrades further into indecency and madness, I am unable to escape to Europe.

David Honneus (Aug 25, 2:30 PM):

Hello – Covid has affected me only slightly. I am still working (sort of) and have used a home office for over 10 years. As a widower, I am socially isolated by definition but spend every weekend with my wonderful girlfriend, Susan LaRock, Skidmore ’62, in the Berkshires. Driving there alone is usual and she lives in a very small town.

So. Life has changed mostly in what I cannot do! No movies, no theatre, no dinner parties but I understand what is happening is for the common good.

The real bother to me being limited. Sound selfish I know but to me it is like driving on a two-lane road behind a truck that is going fast enough but around which I cannot see! The speed is OK but the visibility sucks! That, I find limiting as I find the social limits of Covid. Also cannot visit children and grandchildren except via Zoom.

Lastly, there is always the anxiety of being 80 and at the top end of the Covid vulnerability spectrum. But, this too shall pass!

Bill Stork (Aug 26, 2020, 1:30 AM):

Some Personal Reflections on what the Pandemic has brought

Having lived and worked through the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic in Hong Kong I went into this virus experience a little bit better prepared, knowing that the most critical factor, in addition to the physical heath precautions, was to maintain a good mental outlook. And, rather Polyanna-ish, I continually look daily for positive ways in which this current situation has… (READ MORE)

Charles Valier (Sept 14, 2020, 9:25 AM):

“The time the world stood still for the coronavirus”

Word of an unknown virus attacking residents of Wuhan, China began leaking in the press last February, but caused no concern on my part. Suddenly, the coronavirus began to arrive in Europe and the U.S. Initially, the politicians … (READ MORE)


We invite your comments.

1 comment to Question of the Quarter #1: How has COVID affected you?

  • Bill Hoyt

    Vermont has been a fine place to be during all this- very few cases. A friend and I got back from Medellin, Colombia around March 1 after a fabulous trip. We watched as things shut down, but we figured we had been together in Colombia so we kept seeing each other in our bubble which has expanded during the six months. I am on the cemetery commission in Weston and we have a brisk business in lots. I ascended to the vaulted position of President of the Board of Bennington County Habitat. I was able to shut down our store and our three building sites, and at the next meeting I put myself up for impeachment but there were no takers. We have since re-opened, but in a very restricted way. This is a place where folks have always cared about their neighbors, but that is even stronger now. Lots of people are moving here from cities including some in my family. The real estate market is on fire. People buy houses without even seeing the inside of the house. A year ago the state would pay you $10K to move here. Now the young are flocking here which is great. Don’t know what to expect this winter, but we shall see.