The coronavirus is producing a lot of emotions in everyone I know: fear, rage, and even joy at seeing people come together in mutual aid projects and demanding unprecedented, large-scale change. I’ll be exploring more of the mental health and emotional impacts of our current pandemic in the coming weeks. For today, I’d like to touch on a feeling that a lot of people are dealing with now: loneliness from being cooped up inside all day.
In a conversation I had with Judith Anderson, a psychotherapist based in the UK, she noted the importance of maintaining human connection and social rituals, even while physically apart. “I had coffee with a friend today and we had a virtual coffee,” said Anderson. “It was like sitting in a cafe.” She explained that it helps to plan this in advance to better recreate the experience of a coffee date. “It was quite conscious. It wasn’t that we had a Skype and said, ‘Oh, I’m just going to get a cup of coffee.’”
I explained to Anderson that I’ve been having virtual dinners with my partner. “I could hear from the smile in your voice,” said Anderson. She added, “It’s quite small, but it’s quite sweet.”
Beyond virtual coffee and dinner, there are many other creative ways to maintain social connections. What are some of the “quite small but quite sweet” ways that you are maintaining social connections while physically distancing? Let us know at the link above! We'll share selected answers in a future edition of Inverse Daily.
Coronavirus resources from Inverse staffers
- The US should stop water shut-offs during the COVID-19 pandemic — and forever (Earther)
- An interview with a hand-washing expert about coronavirus (The Outline)
- New York grinds to a halt (The Daily podcast)
- Comedians like Conan and Jimmy Fallon are replacing their camera crews with homemade iPhone videos (Input)
We know that COVID-19 can affect people who are already immunocompromised, have lung issues, or other persistent health conditions. We know it can affect our parents and grandparents. This week, the CDC served up some new data that perhaps serves as a wakeup call: millennials are also getting the coronavirus and being hospitalized for it.
CDC data released on Wednesday describes the first 2,449 cases of COVID-19 in the United States. The agency reports that 29 percent of cases occurred in people between 20 and 44 years old. Out of the 508 hospitalized cases, 20 percent occurred in that age group. This seems scary – and ultimately should help drive home the message that no one is completely immune to the coronavirus right now, as Jeff Martin, an epidemiologist at UCSF tells *Inverse*.
Millennials currently living with the coronavirus echo his sentiment. *Inverse* spoke to two people who recently contracted the virus about what life is like, and what they would like to say to those who are still not taking it seriously. They're holding up just fine, and are appropriately self-quarantined, for the record.
More on the spread of COVID-19:
As increasingly stark actions are taken to stem the spread of COVID-19, our sense of control over our lives is diminishing. Due to social distancing, we can't travel to places we want to go and see people we want to see. Events from mass to March Madness have been canceled. A microscopic virus is now affecting how we live our lives.
The loss of control is palpable, and it can fuel existing anxiety about the pandemic. *Inverse* spoke to a psychologist who researches the response to traumatic events about the best ways to take back control as our worlds start to feel slightly smaller. She suggests we can search for collective moments that we may be missing out on (live streaming religious events, workout classes, or other experiences). We can stick to our routines and find solace in them. We can also still control our general health through sleep, eating well, and exercise
More news on how to stay healthy indoors:
YouTube and Netflix are changing how their websites operate in the fight against the coronavirus. The two streaming services announced this week that they would offer reduced quality by default in the European Union to reduce the workload on computers.
The move came after a European commissioner requested assistance with reducing the workload on the continent’s networks. As more people work from home during the outbreak, home internet connections have grown more important than ever.
Unfortunately, while it’s a nice gesture, the difference may be minuscule. British firm BT revealed that, in its analysis of the country’s networks, daytime usage never exceeded the peaks seen in the evenings.
In other YouTube news:
Like most of us, mission control teams at NASA and the European Space Agency have been working from home to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. But with ground control almost empty, who's keeping watch on flying spacecraft to make sure they don't crash into each other?
Between them, NASA and ESA control more than 40 spacecraft in orbit around the Earth. On average, each space agency will have to perform around two collision maneuvers for each spacecraft every year, according to ESA. This involves preparing a collision avoidance plan and sending commands to the spacecraft to keep it on a safe orbit away from other satellites or debris.
The space agencies are still monitoring the spacecraft and will require essential personnel to step into the mission control room if needed. However, if the situation persists, the ESA is considering shutting down the science instruments on their spacecraft and allowing them to float peacefully in space for weeks or months.
More news on collision avoidance:
In store this week
This afternoon, we're hosting a live reading and Q&A with Altered Carbon author, Richard K. Morgan. Follow Inverse on Instagram and tune in at 5 p.m. Eastern time. We're calling it the Inverse Happy Hour.