Solidarity Is an Essential Vaccine

Solidarity Is an Essential Vaccine

Social distancing should not mean house arrest.


EDITOR’S NOTE: The Nation believes that helping readers stay informed about the impact of the coronavirus crisis is a form of public service. For that reason, this article, and all of our coronavirus coverage, is now free. Please subscribe to support our writers and staff, and stay healthy.

Last week my sister-in-law who lives in a tiny village outside of Trieste was taking her daily walk in the country when she was stopped by a heavily armed soldier. He threatened her with arrest unless she immediately returned to her house and stayed inside.

Now California Governor Gavin Newsom has issued a “shelter in place” order, under which “all non-essential travel” on foot, bicycle, scooter, automobile, or public transit “is prohibited.” Although the order allows outdoor exercises like walking, jogging, and bike riding in the open air—at a safe distance from others—that fine print can too easily be overlooked. Which would be a shame, not just on public health grounds.

For the tens of millions, young and old, whose schools or workplaces are closed, daily exercise is essential to maintaining strong immune systems. “Stay at home” should not mean “stay inside.” While exercises that bring people into close contact with one another—such as team sports and weight-training at the Y—are a bad idea, we should encourage people to spend their downtime taking solitary walks and bicycle trips, or for that matter hikes in the country that avoid state campsites and national parks. Public space, used responsibly, is an important medicine.

At a recent press conference, President Trump urged people to simply watch more TV. He, of course, prospers from our passivity and powerlessness. And because he doesn’t read books, he didn’t bother to mention opening a good book as an alternative to watching Fox News or listening to Sean Hannity rant nonsense on the radio.

Generations X and Z need no advice from me, since they are already on social media 24/7, exchanging good information and bad, but also maintaining healthy social interactions. It is an entirely different story for those who are older, sicker, and alone. Their social isolation can become life-threatening.

Indeed, the combined effects of fear, confinement, income loss, and the potential destruction of family savings augur a mental health crisis on an even larger scale than the pandemic itself. This isn’t simply collateral damage, but rather an integral and extremely dangerous part of the health threat that has so far been neglected. Solidarity is an essential vaccine.

Thank you for reading The Nation!

We hope you enjoyed the story you just read. It’s just one of many examples of incisive, deeply-reported journalism we publish—journalism that shifts the needle on important issues, uncovers malfeasance and corruption, and uplifts voices and perspectives that often go unheard in mainstream media. For nearly 160 years, The Nation has spoken truth to power and shone a light on issues that would otherwise be swept under the rug.

In a critical election year as well as a time of media austerity, independent journalism needs your continued support. The best way to do this is with a recurring donation. This month, we are asking readers like you who value truth and democracy to step up and support The Nation with a monthly contribution. We call these monthly donors Sustainers, a small but mighty group of supporters who ensure our team of writers, editors, and fact-checkers have the resources they need to report on breaking news, investigative feature stories that often take weeks or months to report, and much more.

There’s a lot to talk about in the coming months, from the presidential election and Supreme Court battles to the fight for bodily autonomy. We’ll cover all these issues and more, but this is only made possible with support from sustaining donors. Donate today—any amount you can spare each month is appreciated, even just the price of a cup of coffee.

The Nation does not bow to the interests of a corporate owner or advertisers—we answer only to readers like you who make our work possible. Set up a recurring donation today and ensure we can continue to hold the powerful accountable.

Thank you for your generosity.

Ad Policy