According to the New York Times, over the past week, there has been an average of 155,442 cases of COVID-19 per day in the USA. That’s an increase of 82 percent from the average two weeks earlier.
I find these numbers so alarming that instead of writing about the joys of being an “indie” broker I had set out to do, I’m writing about the pandemic. About how it cannot be ignored no matter how hard we try. About how sometimes, revenue-generating activities are interrupted due to circumstances beyond our control.
In Minnesota, the spread of the coronavirus is almost out of control. We are one of those hard-hit Midwestern states but are doing better than the surrounding states. North Dakota has the highest COVID-19 mortality rate in the world. According to The Atlantic, from Nov. 4-11, “958 hospitals — 19 percent of American hospitals — faced a staffing shortage.”
We are being warned that small social gatherings are a big part of the reason for the spread. It’s the 20-to-40 age group that’s driving the numbers up. Our hospitals are almost at capacity, and health care workers are working past the point of exhaustion.
The weather is cold here now. When I go on my daily work over the noon hour, there isn’t much traffic. Several small local businesses are boarded up, and there’s plenty of office space available downtown. The co-working space I was using downtown closed for good last June.
Realtors are still having open houses; I noticed over the last few weekends. (That said, homes are selling quickly with multiple offers even without open houses.) People enjoy going to open houses. They also enjoy social events, concerts and sporting events — but those just aren’t happening right now.
The real estate offices I walk past have people working inside. They don’t always wear masks either. They have exempted themselves from state and local mask mandates.
The message from real estate companies in my community has been pretty uniform, as companies market the safety precautions their agents take while on the job. Certainly, we are encouraging people to buy and sell real estate just as they would without a pandemic.
If I go into a business where masks are not being worn or if noses are hanging out, I turn right around and leave — and I probably never go back again.
A worker in a local sandwich shop that’s now permanently closed told me that masks are dangerous, which is why she wasn’t wearing one. I left without making a purchase, and I think I know why they had to close up.
I stopped going to the grocery store in the neighborhood because people come in with masks on but take them off as they shop or just pull them down, so they don’t cover the nose.
The last time I was in the store, a delivery person was stocking the dairy case with his head down as he hid his face so that customers wouldn’t notice he wasn’t wearing a mask. I fear that when this is all over, the neighborhood grocery store will have closed too.
This brings me to Thanksgiving — my favorite holiday. Every year, I cook a big dinner with a turkey, and we usually have around a dozen guests over.
My children started working on me last summer to prepare me for Thanksgiving 2020. No one is coming over for dinner, and no one is inviting us to their place either. I’ll admit I went through a process that felt a lot like mourning. It started with denial, and I know I felt some anger too.
I may cook a scaled-down version of a Thanksgiving meal, or we may order our dinner from a restaurant down the street. I have to make at least one pumpkin pie because that’s what I do.
Missing one Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends is a small sacrifice to make to ensure that we can all gather next year and maybe for a few more years after that. I’m already planning an outdoor celebration for next spring. I am not sure what I’ll call it, but it will involve food and adult beverages.
There are people who will exempt themselves from any kind of restrictions over the Thanksgiving holiday. They have reasons why they have to have gatherings. This is, after all, America, where we have freedom. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dedicated a resources page for handling holiday gatherings and celebrations.)
Most people survive COVID-19, but some people do not. We really don’t know how it will affect us until we get it. We don’t know who will die because we are taking up one of those precious hospital beds.
If you are a real estate agent, you have my permission to help stop the spread of the coronavirus by staying home as much as you can. Your income may suffer this year because of it, but you will be in good company. We will get through this.
Do not go into your office if you can work from home. Please wear a mask, and stay at least six feet away from other humans when you are out. When you wear a mask, make sure that it covers your mouth and nose. It’s the least you can do, even if you don’t believe in it.
If enough people celebrate Thanksgiving even in small groups by Christmas, we may see hospitals turning people away. I can’t even imagine the implications if too many front-line workers get sick.
Please consider spending the Thanksgiving holiday at home so that we have something to celebrate in 2021. Try to be thankful for what is good in your life. Look back on past Thanksgivings, and imagine what next year could be like. Spend some time alone.