Loneliness is the New Pandemic

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With all states gradually reopening but monitoring for any spikes in COVID-19 cases that would impact their reopening plans, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released updated rankings for the States with the Fewest Coronavirus Restrictions, as well as accompanying videos and audio files.

To identify which states have the fewest coronavirus restrictions, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 16 key metrics. Our data set ranges from whether child-care programs and restaurants have reopened to the presence or absence of a “shelter-in-place” order. Below, you can see highlights from the report, along with a WalletHub Q&A.

Coronavirus Restrictions in New Mexico (1=Fewest, 25=Avg.):

  • 17th – Requirement to Wear a Face Mask in Public
  • 31st – Reopening of Child-Care Programs
  • 45th – Travel Restrictions
  • 35th – Large Gatherings Restrictions
  • 46th – Strictness of “Shelter in Place” Order
  • 23rd – Reopening of Non-Essential Businesses
  • 50th – Reopening of Restaurants and Bars

Note: Rankings are based on data available as of 12:30 p.m. ET on Monday, June 22, 2020.

For the full report, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-fewest-coronavirus-restrictions/73818/

Q&A with WalletHub

How will 4th of July celebrations be impacted by states’ COVID-19 restrictions?

“States are reopening at different rates, so the degree to which 4th of July celebrations will be impacted depends on the state. Many states are only at the beginning of the reopening processes, so we can expect to see a lot of Independence Day events canceled or heavily restricted in size,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Americans are planning on staying local for the 4th of July this year, as 74 percent will not travel, according to a recent WalletHub survey.”

How have the recent protests across the U.S. affected states’ reopening plans?

“The recent protests throughout the U.S. could both help and hurt states’ reopening efforts. On the positive side, the protests may prove to people that it’s safer to be outside than they thought, leading to more economic activity sooner. On the negative side, the protests could lead to spikes in COVID-19 cases that might force reopening delays due to public health concerns,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Even if reopening proceeds without delay in a given area, some business owners will face setbacks unrelated to the coronavirus. The rioting that accompanied protests in some cities caused damage to businesses just as they were starting to reopen. Hopefully, damaged businesses can get back on track through insurance or government assistance.”

What should states be most mindful of when reopening?

“States should be most mindful of limiting close contact between residents even as businesses reopen, which means that state legislatures should transition from guidelines on social distancing to laws, such as requiring mask wearing in public places and limiting the number of people per square footage. States can show extra care to vulnerable populations by making sure they are accommodated with free deliveries of essential goods and exclusive hours at all businesses,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Most importantly, state governments need to closely monitor the number of coronavirus cases, prepare for a second wave, and adjust further reopening plans if needed to avoid too much of a strain on hospitals.”

Why does South Dakota rank as the state with the fewest coronavirus restrictions?

“South Dakota ranks as the state with the fewest coronavirus restrictions because it has issued no COVID-19-related guidance or requirements for assisted living facilities and has completely removed all limitations on large gatherings,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “South Dakota is among just six states that didn’t tell people to shelter in place order during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is the only state that didn’t require bars and restaurants to close.”

New York has experienced the most coronavirus cases in the U.S. How has that impacted the state’s restrictions?

“New York ranks as No. 5 for the most coronavirus restrictions in the U.S.,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “New York is one of only nine states that still have some form of quarantine in place, and it currently allows gatherings of only 25 people or fewer. New York recommends workplace temperature screenings in order to help catch potential cases of COVID-19, too.”

Engineer builds backyard squirrel obstacle course, video goes viral: A psalm that leads to ‘unhurried serenity and peace and power’

Read time: 6 minutes | Read online

In The Daily Article for June 23, 2020

  • An entertaining video seen nearly twenty-nine million times
  • Loneliness has been called “the new pandemic”
  • Learning from David to trust our greatest needs to God’s great power

A former NASA engineer named Mark Rober decided to become a bird watcher. He set out a bird feeder, but it soon attracted more squirrels than birds. He tried several different versions, all of which claimed to be squirrel proof, but each time the squirrels were smarter than the feeders (and their owner).

So Rober decided to create the ultimate backyard squirrel obstacle course. To get to a treasure trove of walnuts, the squirrels had to negotiate a suspension ladder, a maze, launch pads, and other assorted challenges. Before long, they had mastered the course.

Here’s why I’m writing about Mark Rober’s invention: the video telling its story has been viewed nearly twenty-nine million times. I am now one of them and was thoroughly entertained.

“Something we don’t know we’re lonely for” 

The Wall Street Journal has many more stories like this. During the pandemic, as people have been isolated, lonely, and bored, they have turned to building squirrel-sized picnic tables and even puppet theaters starring the backyard thespians.

Unsurprisingly, loneliness has been called “the new pandemic.” Even before the coronavirus pandemic, more than three in five Americans said they were lonely.

According to David Foster Wallace, “We’re all lonely for something we don’t know we’re lonely for.” He’s right.

In How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy, Julian Baggini writes that Americans focus on individuality and independence while Asians care more about group relationships. The Chinese emphasize harmony, which Baggini defines as “a belief that the highest good is an ordered world in which families, villages, and states all stand in the right relationship to each other.” He adds that “Japanese parents tend to concentrate on bringing up their children to be responsive to others.

By contrast, “Americans raise children to be responsible for themselves.”

“You, O Lord, are a shield about me” 

This week, we’re looking for biblical paths to encouragement in the midst of very difficult days.

Bubba Wallace, the only black driver in NASCAR, said he was “incredibly saddened” after a noose was found hanging in his garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama last Saturday. (On a very positive note, NASCAR drivers, pit crew members, and NASCAR legend Richard Petty walked alongside Wallace and escorted his Number 43 car before yesterday’s race in a show of solidarity and support.)

Over Father’s Day weekend, 104 people were shot in Chicago, fourteen of them fatally. Five of those who died were minors. And the World Health Organization reported the largest daily increases in coronavirus cases yet.

Our challenges remind us that, despite our secularized culture’s insistence, we cannot solve our problems ourselves. The good news is that we don’t have to.

Psalm 3 finds David fleeing from his son Absalom amid a rebellion that threatened his kingdom and his life. The king is brutally honest with God: “O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no salvation for him in God'” (vv. 1–2).

In response, we would expect David to petition the Lord for divine protection. Instead, he prays: “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head” (v. 3, my emphasis). David does not have to ask the Lord to be his shield, for he knows what another psalmist would declare: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, my emphasis).

How can David be so sure of his Lord’s protection and provision? He looks to the past: “I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me” (Psalm 3:4–5). What God has done in the past, David knows he can and will do in the present.

As a result, he testifies: “I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around” (v. 6). Instead, he will trust his enemies to his Lord: “Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked” (v. 7).

David concludes: “Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people!” (v. 8).

“A life of unhurried serenity and peace and power” 

It is sadly understandable that secular people would despair of hope in times that seem hopeless. Our responsibility as followers of Jesus is to help them follow Jesus as well, sharing God’s word and grace with all those we influence.

However, we must lead if we want others to follow.

Name your greatest challenge today. Identify a time when God met such a need in the past, a day when he “answered . . . from his holy hill” and “sustained” you. Now ask him to do again what he has already done, trusting that “salvation belongs to the Lord.”

Know that as you turn from self-reliance to Spirit-dependence, you will be empowered to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). And you will be able to assure others, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Thomas Kelly, the monk and author, noted: “Over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living which we know we are passing by. Strained by the very mad pace of our daily outer burdens, we are further strained by an inward uneasiness, because we have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power.”

This life can be yours today. Choose wisely.

NOTE: It might surprise you to learn that the seven deadly sins are not found in the Bible—at least not as you might expect. Pride, envy, wrath, slothfulness, greed, gluttony, and lust are absolutely condemned as sins within God’s word, but it wasn’t until fourth-century Christians began simplifying their teachings on the virtues and vices that the list took its first steps down the path to infamy. How does this matter to us today? Read more in our newest book, 7 Deadly Sins.

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