Episode 83: COVID-19


E:                                             Hi, I’m Emily Ladau.

K:                                             And I’m Kyle Khachadurian.

E:                                             And you’re listening to another episode of the Accessible Stall.

K:                                             What are we going to talk about today, Emily?

E:                                             Well, we’re going to try again to talk about coronavirus because we literally recorded an episode a week ago and it’s already irrelevant and out of date.

K:                                             Not even kidding. Everything we said is just not true anymore.

E:                                             Well, I think there are some aspects of it that are true still, like the general sentiments of the disability community.

K:                                             That’s true. I will be talking about my grandma again.

E:                                             Yes. Although they don’t know you talked about her to begin with

K:                                             They do now.

E:                                             Hi, Nana.

K:                                             Hello. Hope you’re okay.

E:                                             So anyway, how are you holding up in your self-imposed social distancing?

K:                                             I will look for any excuse not to leave my house when there’s no pandemic coming around, so the fact that there is just gives me more validation to keep doing what I’m doing. However, I don’t want anyone to hear that I’m taking this in jest. This is extremely serious. I’m just… this doesn’t really impact my particular life that much yet.

E:                                             I think I’m more frustrated at how many people are not taking it seriously.

K:                                             Amen.

E:                                             To be honest, I can usually take the attitude of like, oh, whatever happens, happens, but this has not been super great for my mental health, to be honest. I’m a little stressed.

K:                                             I don’t know if I would say that I’m particularly stressed yet, but I totally am. I’m leaving my job at the end of the month. I’m going to lose my source of income, which was… it’s a kick in the face because it was a totally voluntary choice. I didn’t get laid off or anything. I chose to do this. Thanks, Obama. Has that joke passed its prime yet?

E:                                             I think expired milk.

K:                                             I know he’s not president. No, but it’s just like a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances. But, my mom, she’s pretty stressed out, although she’s also like… you ever seen like a TV show or a movie with a hacking scene and it’s like these seven screens around you on a swivel chair and 17 keyboards? She’s got that, but with data tracking the coronavirus. Obviously she hates it, but she’s really into the spectating aspect of it.

E:                                             I don’t want to be into the spectating aspect of it, but I feel like I’ve not really had a choice because I’m trying to keep up with the news for my own education. On top of that, in one of my jobs as editor in chief of Rooted in Rights, I am getting pitches left and right about the coronavirus. I’m being inundated with the disability perspective that is largely missing from mainstream media and I’m happy to help fill that gap, but it’s also feeling like a lot, to be honest.

K:                                             You want to talk about that?

E:                                             Yes, I think there’s just so much that disabled people need to be discussing. A lot of it is around the fact that first of all people are still saying, oh, if you’re young and healthy, it doesn’t matter. Okay, what if you’re young and disabled?

K:                                             Yes. It’s like, we can hear you.

E:                                             Yes, there is my first question. Then my other question is, okay, so all of these accommodations that you’re now putting in place because you reached this emergency breaking point are suddenly the standard, but what about when it was just disabled people asking for those accommodations? Huh?

K:                                             I was actually saying something very similar to this over dinner tonight with my family. I really do appreciate that all of these companies are making accommodations for their workers, but I was saying that as great as that is, I don’t think that corporations deserve credit for basic human decency and basic, basic accommodation. I mean, really, I’m glad they’re doing it, but I don’t think they’re doing it out of the goodness of their heart. I think they’re doing it because they realize finally that there are certain things that they can afford people that don’t actually impact their employees’ ability to do their jobs. I think, if nothing else, that will be the one good, if you could call it that, thing that comes from this.

E:                                             I certainly hope that that’s an outcome in that we’re going to start having conversations about the ways in which we can implement these things like work from home or classes online so that it’s a more regular thing, but I hate that, first of all, it getting to this point and second of all, I can’t shake the feeling that as soon as coronavirus is finally out of the news, that people are going to go right back to not taking things like the need for accommodations and healthcare and better pay structures for workers and small businesses and things like that seriously. Like it’s just all going to go out the window.

K:                                             I don’t think it should take a pandemic to be decent. I think if you can’t afford to be decent, you can’t afford to be in business. I’m not saying that every business can’t;obviously it’s their job to make money, but I think that you can do that without the cost of human decency. If you can’t, then… sorry.

E:                                             Well, and I also think we have to acknowledge that there are definitely jobs that can’t be done remotely. I understand.

K:                                             Yeah. Service industry jobs, construction jobs, anything that involves needing to be somewhere to actually do the laborious part of your job. Hospital workers, teachers. Although that’s changing.

E:                                             I really appreciate that so many places are taking it seriously, but we recorded our original attempt at the coronavirus episode on March 9th and then the following day I feel like we woke up and everything was being canceled.

K:                                             It was like a NCAA. That was, I think, was it the day or the day after New York band, like gatherings more than 500 people? [00:07:03 inaudible] shutdown.

E:                                             It was around there. I think it was before, but then I remember when we were recording, I was still worried because the following day I was supposed to go into the city for an event on accessibility and you were going to come with me. I was all stressed out about it because I was like, do I go, do I not go? I have a commitment and you were going to meet me there and it was going to be cool, but then when I emailed them being like, “Hey, I’m a little concerned,” they were like, “We have Purell Stations aplenty. It’ll be fine.”I was like, okay, and then maybe a few hours later I actually saw that they canceled the event on Facebook and I was like, hmm… Then I got an email, and it was like, yeah, we’re rescheduling to June.

                                                On the one hand, I’m really glad that the decision was made for me, but on the other hand, it’s a bummer because so many things that I was working on have been canceled or postponed or pushed out. But I feel like it needs to be said that this is a reality for disabled people very often where they have to make the choice not to go to something to honor their bodies or we work from home or we figure things out. Everyone else is throwing a fit about it; meanwhile, this is like our reality.

K:                                             It’s so cute. It’s like, oh, you mean to tell me that before this it was completely unthinkable for someone to be able to do their job at home? Or you can’t believe that you’re having trouble going to the grocery store, not because you can’t actually go in there but because everything’s sold out? I mean that’s not exactly the same thing as not being to go in there, but the effect is the same. You don’t have any groceries. That reality for you was completely foreign and just alien to you until this, and now it’s like, what are we going to do? We’re just sitting here like, what are we going to do? Exactly.

E:                                             I was also reading an article. I have to find it, something about how “young and healthy” people aren’t taking things seriously, but imagine the terrible fate of having 20 to 30% reduced lung function or needing to go to physical therapy for four months now.

K:                                             Oh no.

E:                                             I was like, I have asthma and I get physical therapy three times a week. Shut up.

K:                                             Okay, let’s be a little decent. I completely agree with you. Just off the top.

E:                                             Obviously, you know that I’m fooling around?

K:                                             No, I know. I just want to point that I’m with you. Every time I’m out and about and I hear somebody complain that their feet hurt, I just want to scream at them. I don’t because I’m a civilized human being, but I really want to. What about if you’re someone who’s disabled that has like a PCA that has to stay home or that can’t afford to stay home? Neither of those are good. I don’t want this episode to be mostly about the ways that this will impact disabled people more, although we should talk about it, but I do want this episode to point out the flaws in society that people like us have been shouting about for a while, that everyone now is just starting to wake up to because of a pandemic. Ithad to get to a pandemic. The whole world had to be like, oh wow, yes.

E:                                             I feel like this needs a trigger warning on it. This whole episode does, but this in particular. There was an article in the New York times the other day by a group of medical ethicists, and it was essentially talking about what would happen if the pandemic got so out of control that we basically had to start rationing healthcare because we’re just too under equipped to accommodate the number of people who were sick. It all but said we have to determine whose lives are worth saving and whose aren’t. Nothing like a pandemic to amplify the ableism that is always there. The belief that certain lives are more worth living than other lives is…

K:                                             Counterpoint. I’m not going to defend that. I think that’s horrible, but I would argue that at least in this country, healthcare is already like that.

E:                                             Oh it absolutely is, but I think that we do a good job of denying it to ourselves.

K:                                             Oh yes.

E:                                             Collectively, not us.

K:                                             I know, yes. 100%.

E:                                             But to see it in writing, to see people who count themselves as ethicists to basically say that there are some lives that are worth being saved and others that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things and should be let go for the sake of the greater good is the kind of eugenics language that is scary to hear.

K:                                             Yes, because we know where we are.

E:                                             Yes. I’m aware that I’m the person you don’t give a shit about.

K:                                             I understand too that if you’re an ethicist, especially a medical one, that that’s literally your job. I’m sure it’s not easy, but you’re right. You don’t want to hear that. That’s not good.

E:                                             I guess the harder question to grapple with is, what is the solution then? If you really do not have the right amount of equipment, what is the solution? I feel hope right now still that it’s not going to get to the point where we have to ask ourselves that question, but if people don’t take this seriously, it’s going to get to that point. I think we need to be able to talk openly about these fears and these concerns.

K:                                             I agree. I also agree with you. I don’t think we’re at that point yet. With any luck in the world, we won’t be, but I think stuff that we’re doing is helping a lot, like isolating yourself socially. It sucks, but I would say that it’s necessary, as much as I hate it. Whether it’s necessary because we just don’t have– we don’t want to overwhelm our hospitals or whether it’s necessary because it’s the best course of action, that’s a different conversation. But I think if it’s helping, and I think as far as anyone knows, it is, especially in mainland China where apparently as of today, and I’m going to say today is March 14th, but as of today, the amount of new cases in the ground zero of the world, Wuhan,China, is below 10, which is cool. I don’t know. I really don’t know what the best thing to do is. I know that nobody’s probably doing what anyone would consider enough.

E:                                             Well, I think there are people who are trying to compensate for the people who are not doing enough.

K:                                             Yes. Well, I think that if you’re not taking this seriously, that you’re just ignorant. Whenever I hear or see anybody in real life or on Facebook or whatever, say like, oh, it’s just like the flu. It’s like, it’s really not. I don’t know if you’re watching too much news that has been simplified to make the majority of people understand that, but it’s like, it’s really not like the flu. It’s nothing like the flu, and you shouldn’t treat it like it. Or even someone like my grandmother. Jesus, she’s so vulnerable. She’s an unhealthy woman in her late seventies. I love my grandma, but like I said on the last episode, although this piece of information, it wasn’t irrelevant, but she shared information that at the time the information was created was true, but she shared it much later.

                                                It was a piece of information comparing the mortality rate of the influenza to the mortality rate of the coronavirus at the time. At the time, the mortality rate of influenza was larger, and it was. This was a fact, but by the time she shared it – which I’ll give her a little credit, it was only like a couple of days later – it was no longer true. But she didn’t know that because the data was correct. It wasn’t fake news, it was true. It’s just that it’s moving too fast, and she used that as a reason not to worry.

E:                                             Yes, and that’s the big problem with keeping up with social media and maybe not necessarily being able to differentiate between the current nature and the validity of different resources. I know that that’s a thing that people who are perhaps younger and more social media savvy are just more used to. I feel like I’ve seen enough young people sharing misinformation too that I’m…

K:                                             Oh, absolutely.

E:                                             Honestly, I don’t think this is an age thing. I don’t even think this is a partisan thing anymore. I just think that there are people who are being extremely ignorant in every generation and of every political affiliation.

K:                                             I want to point out the reason that I brought up my grandmother’s age is just because she’s squarely in the demographic that we know this is the most serious to right now. It has nothing to do with the fact that she’s savvy or not savvy with technology, although she is probably, I would say, above average savviness for her age group. I also will say, I’m going to brag a little bit. The County of New York that I live in, as of this second, has no confirmed cases, so I’m just waiting for the shoe to drop.

E:                                             Yes, I actually noticed that as well. I thought that you don’t have any in your county. That is not true in my county.

K:                                             I know. That’s why I’m saying it. I don’t care if these people know. I want to just brag to you.

E:                                             I read an article also that hit a little too close to home, although who knows what ended up happening because this was already like a week ago. There was an article saying that a woman who lives three towns over for me and is a teacher was still thinking of going on a cruise. She had booked… and I’m thinking to myself, you are way too close to me and you will have exposure to way too many children for this to be okay. I really hope they chose not to take the cruise.

K:                                             Can we just agree–? Oh, sorry, go ahead.

E:                                             Nope, that’s it. I’m just mad at it.

K:                                             I was just going to say, can we just agree that cruises are literally the worst thing to ever happen to humans?

E:                                             You know? Yes.

K:                                             Like, think about it. They ruin the earth. They’re expensive. You go on a boat, you get food poison, you’re around strangers, and if one of you gets sick, the whole boat gets sick and you’re in the middle of the ocean.

E:                                             Has anybody heard of Titanic?

K:                                             Have you ever heard of a good cruise story in your life? Because I genuinely, bottom of my heart, I’ve never heard of anyone that went, “Oh, it was so fun.” It’s always, “It was cool, but…”

E:                                             Kind of. Yes. I mean my parents took a cruise for their honeymoon. It was the only cruise they took. They were seasick the entire time.

K:                                             See what I’m saying?

E:                                             Literally just laying there eating saltines and drinking ginger ale and watching the boat rock back and forth and the curtains swinging side to side. Then my mom had vertigo for weeks after. So like, I’m glad if you like cruises, but why? Why? No good comes of it.

K:                                             Yes. Honest to God, no good. But see, stuff like that… or that man who got on a plane knowing that he tested positive for coronavirus.

E:                                             Although I was trying to verify the facts on that because did he get the notification after they landed or did he already know? That was what I didn’t know.

K:                                             From what I understand, the guy already knew. I was skeptical about that too, but the reason that I’m fairly sure about that at this point is because the airline banned him for life. I don’t think they would have done that if he went on the plane not knowing…

E:                                             Did they really?

K:                                             Yes, Jet Blue ban that man from flying for life.

E:                                             Holy moly.

K:                                             On Jet Blue. I think that man should be put on a no fly list, but whatever.

E:                                             I kind of…

K:                                             If you don’t know, I’m not going to knock on you, but if you’re aware, you’re a scumbag.

E:                                             I try so hard not to be angry at people who make ridiculous decisions, but perfect example: I read an article in the New York Times about a guy who hoarded thousands upon thousands of hand sanitizer bottles so that he could sell them at a markup. But then Amazon banned him, so now he’s just stuck with all this stuff that he can’t sell. That guy sucks. I would like him to know how much he sucks, but someone also pointed out that it’s not even that we should be mad at this guy, but we should be mad at the bigger systems that cause stuff like this.

K:                                             I agree, but I think that guy sucks. That guy is exploiting fear. That very well could be the fault of the underlying economic system we all find ourselves having to live within. Very true. But that guy sucks. I think they can both be true.

E:                                             Also, I just double checked. You’re right. Not that I doubted you, but CNN said that they banned that passenger.

K:                                             Yes. I still don’t think they explicitly stated whether or not he knew before or after he got on the plane, but I don’t think that that would have happened if he didn’t know while he was flying.

E:                                             Right. If it was like, oh my God, you turned your phone off of airplane mode and you got this horrible notification and you notified everybody, then not your fault. Terrible situation,but not your fault. Oh my gosh. It’s public, so we can link it. A friend of mine who is… I think she’s missing her right forearm, or perhaps missing is not the right word. Limb different is the correct terminology. She put all of her prosthetic hands and arms in a sink and goes, am I doing this right? For like wash your hands.

K:                                             That is really funny. I look, wash your hands or your feet or whatever limbs you use to touch things in your daily life. Just, please, if you can. If you can’t, find someone who can. It’s really important. I mean for real. I know that that points yet to another flaw for people with disabilities, like accessible bathrooms or people like PCA as I mentioned earlier, who may or may not be able to take care of you because they may or may not be taking care of themselves, but to the best of your abilities, please, please, for your own sake.

E:                                             Well, this actually reminds me very much of another thing I remember we talked about when we recorded previously was the very basic disabled people have to touch extra surfaces, and often it’s really difficult to wash our hands because we can’t reach the freaking sink.

K:                                             Yup. I mentioned I have a friend who’s a little person, and she was like, you want me to wash my hands wherever I go? That’s fine. I can do that as soon as you make all the bathrooms accessible.

E:                                             I mean, yes, I would really love to clean myself to the best of my ability, but the reality is that I often have to touch grab rails in the bathroom and I often have to lean more heavily on different surfaces. Obviously, I try to clean up after myself, but I notice other people don’t. Public bathrooms are always disgusting, but disabled people have to bear the brunt of that because, especially for a woman or for someone with a vagina. We can say it, we don’t need to gender it. They can just like squat to pee. For someone with a penis,they can, unless they have a disability that precludes them from doing so, can stand to pee so there’s a lot fewer services that you have to touch. But I can’t do the whole squatting thing. I have to touch everything. Sorry if that’s too real, but come on.

K:                                             But that’s the point of this episode, isn’t it? I don’t think the average person, and I am very much generalizing here, but I really don’t think the average person realizes how much that they touch in a day. We do, we have to, but I would say even, I don’t think we understand it all the time. We touch a lot of things. It’s just everything is gross.

E:                                             Yes. Like you grab stuff for balance all the time.

K:                                             All day, every day, and I don’t even think about it.

E:                                             This was the one thing I was actually thinking about is, they showed a clip of Trump giving a press conference or whatever, and they asked him, why are you still shaking people’s hands? He was like, it’s a reflex. I was like, I hate you so much, but you’re absolutely right.

K:                                             Yes, no, no. Look, I love to make fun of him, but yes.

E:                                             He’s not wrong. He’s a human being. I think, like everyone else who shakes hands, it’s just like a reflex. It just happens, unless of course you have a disability that precludes you from doing so. I had to bring my mom to the doctor the other day, and the doctor held out his hand and was like virtual handshake. He didn’t actually take our hands.

K:                                             As of right now, there are news reports of heads of state and their spouses testing positive. It sounds very scary, and it is, but if you’re scared of that, just remember that these people shake more hands in a day than you do in a month. That doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t matter that they have tested positive. It just means that due to their nature of what they do, they’re way more likely to be exposed than the average person. Having said that, as much as I hate that guy, I think the president and the vice president and even Mitch McConnell should really, really, really lock themselves in their respective offices and do their jobs as much as they can without moving as much as they can.

E:                                             Set an example.

K:                                             Yes. I know we love to make fun of him, but I swear to God. You think it’s bad now, not that he’d ever admit it, but if Trump tested positive, that would be bad.

E:                                             There’s a really good article on GQ, and even the title, I love it. It’s Your Rugged American Individualism is Making You Dangerous, and then the author tweeted, she was like, stop being selfish and stay at home.

K:                                             That is so great. We’re going to put that in the show notes, but we’re going to do that just because I want to read it. That’s really good.

E:                                             Excellent. Then on top of that, her quotes were just spot on. There was one part where she said, I wish more Americans were respectful of biology and its demands, but of course that would require more Americans to be respectful of the fact that science is a real thing and that this is not a hoax. Like some people think climate change is a hoax.

K:                                             You know what’s so funny about that?

E:                                             What?

K:                                             I have unfortunately more than zero people that think that this is a hoax, but it’s not that many. But the relation of people that think this is a hoax that I know is not correlated to the people that think climate change is a hoax. It’s so funny. When the CDC says, oh, you got to wash your hands or you might get this thing and it could potentially kill you, even if it’s like a one in a thousand chance or whatever. I made that number up. Don’t take that seriously, but like a small chance. Everyone’s like, oh my God, I got to wash my hands. I got to stock up on toilet paper. I got to stock up my hand sanitizer. When the entire global scientific community says, hey, humans caused climate change, Americans by and large are like, this is just a ploy by the big map industry and the Democrats to sell globes. It’s like, or maybe 98% of the world isn’t wrong about something. I don’t know why it’s such a difference except for the fact that I suppose you can feel it, but I just… it’s very interesting to me. It’s like that one week, a couple of years ago, when we had to throw out all our lettuce because of Ebola. Everyone was like, oh yeah, sure, goodbye, but climate change is like, that’s all bullshit.

E:                                             I feel exasperated but optimistic.

K:                                             I agree. I will say that if you are somebody that thinks this is a hoax, we understand your cry for help and your call not to be a member of society anymore. Like we get that’s what you want. Unfortunately, you’re stuck here with the rest of us, and even more unfortunately, you’re putting the rest of us in danger. So if you could just give your bunker–

E:                                             Wait, I’m very confused. We understand your cry for help, but…

K:                                             Yes, because clearly these people don’t want to be part of society. They’ve made that clear. I’m making fun of them and I don’t think that they’re pretty cool.

E:                                             You can see where my mind is at. I can’t even comprehend humor anymore.

K:                                             No, but in all seriousness, this is serious. A lot of the things that are currently being implemented are very common sense procedures that up until very recently, because of the spread of this pandemic, people with disabilities have been crying for forever, and they’re not even unreasonable. I just think it’s funny how, when it affects you, that’s when you care. It’s as if you don’t understand– you, like not Emily, not me, but you don’t understand empathy until it affects you or someone you love directly. Up until then, it’s like a completely foreign idea, how someone could need something that you don’t need,and then it’s like, oh, of course.

E:                                             It’s also amazing to me because I have never thought that disabled people were unreasonable as a fellow disabled person, and now seeing other people being like, oh…

K:                                             I know, right?

E:                                             “Oh yeah.” Like, come on. In conclusion, how about we just watch cute animal videos all day?

K:                                             I saw this one last night of a little duckling taking a bath in a sink.

E:                                             Practicing good hand washing…

K:                                             And it was just… you know baby ducks don’t quack? I didn’t know that. They chirp.

E:                                             I love baby animals. I watched a video of a fruit bat eating a slice of banana.

K:                                             I watched a video of some kind of bat eating a slice of watermelon, and it was like…

E:                                             Yes, exactly, exactly. Sorry if you don’t like mouth sounds.

K:                                             Oh yeah. Oops. That was thoroughly gross, if you’re one of those people.

E:                                             They also… I saw a video of a bunch of puppies all trying to get into the same little plastic bin.

K:                                             Puppies are silly.

E:                                             And a video of someone making their ferret do a little butt wiggle. I mean, send me all your animal videos is what I’m saying. Please.

K:                                             Final takeaways. Please wash your hands or the limbs that you interact with the world with.

E:                                             Also, check in on people. You can make a phone call or make a… text. Oh my God.

K:                                             Send a text, write a text, type of text, tell a text. That’s a thing. I don’t know.

E:                                             Send texts, phone calls, send phone calls. You know what I mean. Just, goodness gracious, check in on your fellow human beings

K:                                             And for the love of God, stop buying all the toilet paper.

E:                                             And wash your hands.

K:                                             How many slices do you need? How many sheets do you need? I’m waiting for an answer from the listener who can’t answer me because they’re not in the room.

E:                                             Because they hoarded the toilet paper.

K:                                             But I mean, honest to God, you do realize that anything can be toilet paper in an absolute emergency, right? Or you can jump in the shower. You know that right? You can’t eat the toilet paper. If you’re going to hoard anything, hoard the food. I mean, don’t hoard the food.

E:                                             I guess I can understand the concern is if you can’t leave the house, you don’t want to run out of toilet paper, so I get it.

K:                                             Jump in the shower. I know some disabled people can’t just jump in the shower. If you’re a disabled person, you’re hoarding all the toilet paper, Godspeed. I’m on your team. I’m just talking about everyone else.

E:                                             Take care of yourself. That is all.

K:                                             Good night, everybody. If you want to follow us on Twitter, you should. We post a lot of stupid stuff on there, but we’re pretty funny. You should like us on Facebook.

E:                                             I actually think we’re pretty normal on social media.

K:                                             That’s true. We are. We just post goofy photos of us, and some news of course.

E:                                             Well, not now we’re not because social distance thing, am I right?

K:                                             Yes.

E:                                             Wow. Kyle made that sound effect in real time, so I heard it.

K:                                             I saw an opportunity and I took it. What more do you want from me?

E:                                             Nothing. I want nothing more from you except you continue always hosting this podcast with me so that we can sort through our emotions on how the world may be ending together.

K:                                             This has been another episode of the Accessible Stall. I’m Kyle. She’s Emily.

E:                                             I am definitely Emily.

K:                                             Have you ever been Kyle?

E:                                             I’m Kyle.

K:                                             I’m Emily.

E:                                             And you’ve just listened to another episode of the Accessible Stall. Stay safe. Stay well. I was trying to give some encouragement before we told them they look pretty.

K:                                             Go ahead. Sorry. I thought you were done.

E:                                             Stay safe, stay well. Wash your hands. That’s it.

K:                                             And I always say you look great today. Except for your hands. They’re filthy. Wash them.

E:                                             Wash them. Love you. Bye.

K:                                             Good night, everybody.

E:                                             Good night.