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My COVID-19 Point of View: What Life Is Like in Parsippany, New Jersey

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What’s happening in Parsippany, New Jersey: Hello! I’m Liz Matheis from Parsippany, NJ. I’m a 45-year-old psychologist and mom of three. I have been an anxious person from the time that I can remember. In my spare time (which is not much!), I enjoy making simple jewelry, time with other fellow mamas drinking wine and watching Netflix!

COVID-19 has rocked our world. As of Monday, March 16, 2020, our lives have changed in that our children quickly switched over to distance learning, and as parents, we all switched to working from home. We are fortunate that we live in a town where we are protecting ourselves and others through social distancing and wearing masks. The stats in Parsippany were higher in March and April and have come down steadily since then. In fact, we had a 24-hour span where there were no new cases in early June! As of July 20, 2020, we have 787 positive cases in Parsippany. Statewide, there have been over 176,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, leading to over 15,000 deaths.

My observations about masks: Residents of Parsippany are wearing masks in stores and supermarkets. Those who are taking a walk or jog are not, but they are keeping their distance from others. My observation is that when on the street, residents have been aware of the six foot rule and have moved to the other side of the street or towards the middle of the street to allow passing. 

The sentiment has been that many of us want to see our parents or older family members while keeping everyone safe. With that said, we are checking in on one another in our neighborhoods, checking to see who needs what when one of us makes a supermarket run. We share where the stash of toilet paper or paper towels can be found. We have had happy hours across the lawn because we, personally, love our neighbors and without them, we would have lost our sanity. 

My experience out of the house: Target, Foodtown, ShopRite and Joe Canal’s are my go-to’s during COVID-19. Since the end of June, restaurants have opened up with outdoor seating. No place has been too crowded, which is guided by employees standing by the door and maintaining a count of the people inside, and letting one new person into the store as every one person leaves. 

Prior to then, our residents have started a Facebook page aimed at maintaining our local businesses, as well as recognizing our local health care superheroes. Members of our community have been ordering in food at least one time per week, or bringing in food to our local hospital (Morristown Memorial). We are blessed that our supermarkets have been stocked as well as can be. Even during the height of it all, we were able to find the foods that we wanted. 

It has been really nice to see more of our neighbors out in the neighborhood walking, jogging, bicycling. It’s funny because we know when certain people take their walks now! We have been able to catch up for a quick conversation and share our worry or the latest COVID-19 stats. There is definitely a greater sense of “we’re all in this together.”

My health: As is true for a great number of us, our fear of contracting the virus or passing it on was incredibly high in March, April and May. I felt the safest by staying home and ordering items we needed. Either me or my husband would make a quick trip to the supermarket for perishables and bulked up so that we wouldn’t have to leave the house again for a few weeks. I worried for my family’s safety, our parents, our jobs and our neighborhood constantly.

As the weeks have gone by since then and the number of cases has declined, I am not feeling as frightened. In fact, I have been better able to slow down my worry about weeks in advance given the information and restrictions have been changing from week to week. Surprisingly, I am learning to just exist in the moment as the future is unknown, which created immense internal upheaval for me in the past.  

During this time, I have been able to meet with my endocrinologist via video. I developed an eye infection and my optometrist was able to diagnose and treat via video. I am able to run to my local CVS to gain whatever prescriptions I need by using the drive-through. 

Dr. Liz holding toilet paper

My quality of life: I am an extrovert so staying away from others has been incredibly difficult for me. This was especially true in the beginning when I was seeing friends primarily through video. I missed our ability to move around freely without so much worry and preparation. I also worried immensely for my private practice. As with many private practices, our need for services slowed down. I was consumed with worry that the practice wouldn’t survive. 

Distance learning has also been tough on my children and on me and my husband as our lives became a big balancing act, trying to find windows of time to guide our children through their school work. It was very stressful for all of us to be together without reprieve. My teen and pre-teen children burrowed in their rooms for hours which their way of trying to create distance and cope. 

It was a drastic change for everybody everywhere. Again, as the number of cases has declined, we have been more comfortable meeting with others safely. This has been a huge sanity saver for us all as it feels more “normal.” 

My unique COVID-19 moment: COVID-19 gave me the blessing of a re-set, a re-start, a slow down that I would have never been able to create in my life. As a mom of three and business owner, my life has been a go-go-go marathon and I had been exhausted and on the verge of burn out in March. The sudden slam on the breaks was jolting initially, and then I was thankful for it. I have been listening to books and taking walks. I have been able to take advantage of just a few minutes of sitting in silence to process my thoughts, whether personally or professionally. I have been also able to de-clutter my home and organize parts of our home that really needed it. There’s less stuff in my house now which is refreshing and relieving. 

My hopes for the future: Although it’s hard to say when we will have a handle on COVID-19, I hope that we can all continue to wave at each other when we pass in cars or on foot in our neighborhood. I hope we can still play games at our kitchen tables, on our lawns or just lounge. I’m hoping this re-set will teach us all to slow down and stop rushing to nowhere. I hope I can learn how to manage our schedules in a way that builds in more down-time for all of us. 

I genuinely appreciate that I don’t have to rush all the time and that we can do X or Y because “where else are we going?” I hope we all spend more time with each other and not take our health, our neighborhood, our healthcare professionals, our essential workers for granted. This virus has taught us we are all in this together, at the very basic level of being humans. We are all humans.

Local resources:

Originally published: July 20, 2020
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