Covid-19: Lending a Hand

I’ve been extremely impressed by the outpouring of support by San Carlans for the folks who are being quarantined at the Fairfield Inn as a result of having tested positive for Covid-19. We often talk about San Carlos being a welcoming city, but actions speak louder than words, and the actions here are a heart-warming reminder that, even in crisis, grace, thoughtfulness and caring for others is what we’re all about as a community.

Reaching Out to Our Quarantined Guests

Many have asked what they could do to make the stay of our unanticipated visitors a little less uncomfortable and daunting. San Carlans being who and what they are many have actually already begun to organize efforts to do something.

I think both the impulse and the efforts are fabulous! But we need to remember something important. This is a quarantine facility…and quarantines only work when the material and people moving in and out of them are highly regulated and controlled. That’s why no one is allowed to leave the facility until they’ve tested negative for Covid-19 twice in a row, even if they don’t show any symptoms.

The Federal authorities don’t want other pathogens entering the closed system. Particularly Covid-19, from someone on the outside who doesn’t realize they’ve contracted it.

The city was told the medical containment staff would look into what kinds of gifts could be allowed in…but the answer may be nothing. And it’s not their highest priority to figure this out. They are focused on caring for the quarantined residents and protecting the broader community.

We were told Mayor Collins’ idea of a welcoming letter was doable. In addition, the authorities are looking into whether or not they can set up “virtual visits”, over the internet, between San Carlans and facility residents who signed up for one.

But for now the most we can do is send them our best wishes.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

All the regulations governing how many people can get together in a group, how far apart people should stay from each other, closing public (and private facilities), encouraging people to work from home, etc., have one thing in common which you may not appreciate: they are “spreading apart” communities, of all kinds. That’s true of the community called San Carlos, too.

It’s an important step to combat the spread of Covid-19 and thereby ensure our hospital/medical resources don’t get exhausted (I wrote about why it’s important in this article). But it’s also throwing people back on their own devices more than most of us may be accustomed to.

I spoke with the emergency medical people at our special Council meeting about this, and asked them what advice they would give to all San Carlans about it.

The answer was simple. Now is a great time for neighbors to get to know each other better (respecting the need to maintain social distance, of course).

Have some elderly neighbors? Go knock on their door and see how they’re doing. If they are hesitant to come to the door — their age group is the most at risk — you can always leave a note asking how they are and giving them your phone number, email, etc., so they can contact you if something comes up. Or even if they just want to correspond. The same holds true for neighbors of all ages and conditions.

Don’t do this if you suspect or know you’re ill yourself. But reaching out and touching someone (virtually, because of the need to maintain social distance) can make everyone’s lives better during this trying time. It just has to be done in small numbers (and, again, not when someone believes or knows they’re ill).

I experienced a similar situation many years ago when we lived in Los Angeles. We cunningly arranged to buy a home just a few miles away from the epicenter of the 1991 Northridge earthquake1 shortly before it struck.

As soon as things settled down we went around checking in with our neighbors, people we didn’t know all that well2. In the course of helping each other clean up debris, broken glass, fixing leaks and whatnot we formed a bunch of new friendships. The block parties we had thereafter were great!

So in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis let’s consider doing something San Carlos is great at: turning lemons into lemonade! Take precautions, but get out and touch base with your neighbors. Because by working together, and supporting each other, we will get through this.


  1. I will never forget waking up on the floor, having been thrown out of bed, while the earthquake raged around me. I never knew how loud they can be! 

  2. Snarky northern Californians will no doubt say “That’s LA for you.” 

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