NORTH METRO ATLANTA — Alia Browning is experiencing what many parents are going through during the coronavirus pandemic — talking to their kids about COVID-19. 

“It’s been a tricky balance to try and communicate the severity of the pandemic and its highly contagious spread without scaring the hell out of children,” Browning said. “They don’t read the news and see the graphs. They’re on social media and getting incomplete and possibly dangerous information. They want to believe it’s not ‘that bad.’ They want to be free to do as they’ve always done. This is not a time for business as usual.”

Sweet 16 in Quarantine

With a statewide shelter-in-place order in effect on April 8, Grace Haberman could not celebrate her “sweet 16” birthday in a traditional way. So, her mother, Leslie, tried to make Grace’s day “a little sweeter” by adorning the yard of their Roswell home in the Saddle Creek neighborhood with 16 balloons and signs that read, “Honk to wish Grace a sweet 16.”

Browning, who lives in Alpharetta, is at home with her daughter while her husband and son, both of whom have compromised immune systems, are in the mountains of North Carolina.

“Much like many other folks, the public health scientists are telling us that staying home is our best course of action,” Browning said. “We are doing that and hoping for the best. Aside from going to the store and taking a walk outside, we’re home most all days. We are reading, listening to music, dancing, doing video classes, FaceTiming and Zoom-ing, watching lots of TV and trying to keep ourselves informed.”

Charles Swahn was informed of the pandemic’s rapid spread in March by his daughter, who works for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“She was way out in front of this, giving us the heads up on what was coming,” Swahn said.

After not taking COVID-19 “too serious” at first, Swahn said he has since changed his tune and is “doing all the right things.”

Each day he walks his golden retriever around his Johns Creek neighborhood, and the attitude of his neighbors regarding the pandemic has been surprising.

“I have had quite a bit of interaction with neighbors while social distancing, but everyone is in the same boat, and I’ve just been impressed with everyone’s positivity,” he said. “We all have concerns on the conditions of the virus and what’s going to happen with the economy, but everyone has had a good attitude about it. There has been some worry, but no real frustration. That is one refreshing thing I take from it.”

Since his retirement around three years ago, Swahn has become a dedicated blood and platelet donor, a passion perhaps more important than ever as donations dwindle.

In mid-March, the American Red Cross announced thousands of blood drives had been canceled, taking with it an estimated 86,000 donations.

Swahn has donated three times over the past few weeks and said the experience provides him with more of a sense of belonging in the community. He is encouraging others to join the cause amid the pandemic.

“The Red Cross is committed to everyone’s safety, I’ve noticed,” he said. “They have their due diligence during the donation process. Step in the door and they check your temperature, there are gloves and hand sanitizer, chairs are spread out, and after a donor is finished and they come behind and sanitize everything. The safety is definitely there.”

(2) comments

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