As I sit down to write this blog, I am on the 7th floor of a highrise building overlooking Lake Michigan. Like many other New Yorkers, I felt unsafe in my home and decided to pack my bags with an unclear return date in mind. As I scrambled to pack my entire life, my most important belongings and clothes that I could reuse over and over again without getting bored of, one thought stood out from the others: what happens next?
The answer is unknown. What I do know is for how little we know about the disease and how few tests there are available in the United States, ignorance is running rampant. You have heard about Asian Americans being targeted as the culprits of a global pandemic and you may have contributed to misinform your network with data that changes by the minute. My concern is that as more and more cases get confirmed, those that may have tested positive or shown multiple symptoms may be stigmatized against.
A central part of the work that we do at MIGA Swimwear is breaking the stigma of looking differently, but also of having a certain diagnosis. We have featured stories of women that have ostomies, rare diseases and skin conditions, among others. “People thought I was contagious,” claimed one of our blog contributors after being diagnosed with psoriasis.
The expectation is not that we know any and all diagnoses under the sun. The expectation is that we treat everyone with respect and kindness. So what happens when someone you know has COVID19? NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. You continue being their friend with the added bonus that you are now their most vocal ally. You check-in from time to time and offer to help in any way that will not put both of you in harm's way (think sending book or TV show recommendations). If you are scared about getting COVID19, you are not going about it the right way.
The lack of tests make it impossible for us to know whether we have it or not, unless we demonstrate more serious symptoms that warrant a visit to the doctor. Our safest bet now is to assume we all have COVID19 and take all the precautions necessary to not spread it further. With over million of cases expected, I hope that the power in numbers will be strong enough to keep stigma towards those that do have COVID19 at bay, but we can’t assume that will be the case. You can safely assume, however, that if you had COVID19 you would want to be treated as humanly as possible. Let's do that!