The New Normal

New Information added on 3/23, 3/24, 4/1          Scroll down to read all posts

Tuesday, March 23

Hi everyone. Lou here. I have decided to add a page for staff (and anyone else who winds up here for whatever reason). My hope is that I will be able to post important and worthwhile information about the COVID-19 that is changing our lives right now and how No Ordinary Moments is adapting and conforming to all of the new directives. And I will keep you informed of any things that are changing in our world of the developmentally disabled.

I will start by pointing out a positive in all of this. If you do as everyone is being asked to do you have the opportunity to work all the way through this mess.  Millions of people have lost their jobs. They went from whatever they were making to ZERO in a couple of days. Just take a ride up Harbor Blvd near Disneyland and you will see proof. Hotel and motel after hotel and motel are closed, shut down. Restaurants who pay huge leases to be close to Disneyland are closed. Disneyland and Downtown Disney are closed. That’s tens of thousands of people who are out of work with no idea when they will go back to work. No idea how they will feed their family, no clue how they will pay rent. That is not true for us. We are considered an essential job. That means if you stay healthy you can keep earning your check all the way to the other side of this. How great would that be?

So, what am I doing to make sure each of you can keep working and be as safe as possible?

1.   We have almost completely shut down the main office. We have a skeleton crew there 4 days a week and that may be cut down to less than 4 days. No one is allowed in the office. All business is conducted outside including any new orientations for new hires.

2.  I have informed the Regional Center of Orange County that No Ordinary Moments will no longer be accepting any new consumers. My thinking is that we have done a very good job at keeping our consumers away from high risk behaviors and areas. Because of the unfortunate accident that happened in early January we canceled all outings so our consumers have primarily been kept in their place of residence or very close to it for 2 months (a silver lining to be sure).  I do not want to accept any new consumers because I would not know where they have been living or who they have been living with. Too risky.

3.  Today, March 23rd, I have contacted all family members of any of our consumers that get visitors and/or go home on home visits and either implemented changes such as visits can only occur outside with no touching or I have canceled visits entirely. This will further our effort to keep our consumers close to just us.

4.  I have instructed all of you to not come to work if you are sick. Use your sick days. If you are sick stay home and get better. It is highly likely that it is just a cold but we do not want to risk it being the virus.

5.  I have reached out to the many schools and day programs that have shut down in order to reach out to the staff that have experience but are now unemployed and I have offered them work. We are running at maximum speed right now, no one is in school and no one is going to day programs. That stretches us very thin. These new staff will take some of the load off of all of you. I need you to get your rest and to stay healthy.

6.  I promise to keep you abreast of everything that pertains to the virus and I will continue being open to doing whatever I need to do to ensure we can keep functioning at a high level. Nothing is off the table. I promise to be honest with you all the way through this. When I learn something I will post it here (and I usually call everyone and tell them too).

So that is what I have done and what I will do. What about you? What is it that you need to do to ensure that you can keep working and drawing a full paycheck through this whole virus episode? What is it that you can do to make sure our consumers and your work peers can get past this without becoming infected? What can you do to make sure no one in your family, especially your children and elderly relatives (parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles) gets infected and has to suffer and possibly die?

Probably the most important thing— you must change your behaviors:

1.  Wash your hands— several times a day. This is so very important. Every thing you touch may have already been touched by someone who is carrying the virus. And what do we do all day long? It is reported that we each touch our face between 2 and 3 thousand times per day!! 2 to 4 times per minute. Start paying attention and you will see that this number is probably low. We constantly touch our face. That is the last thing you should be doing. But no longer touching our face is not that easy. We don’t even think about it so it is hard to stop. That is why you must wash as often as you can, especially after handling things that are not in your home (doors, packages, food containers, toilets, sinks, furniture, etc.). If you cannot wash your hands use hand sanitizer but washing is much more effective at destroying the virus. Wash your hands often!!

2.  Stay home— go to work or to the store or somewhere vital and then go home. This is so important. It is probably the best way to make sure the virus doesn’t spread like it is doing in other countries (Italy) or even other states (New York). Stay home.

3.  Don’t gather. This is not the time to hang out with your friends! You keep hearing “social distancing” and it is important. The virus is spread by coughs or sneezes and even by talking. It is airborne and can travel many feet. Do not hang out in groups. Stay at least 6 feet away from people. Do not have a face to face conversation. I suggest not even looking at them straight on. Talk (and be spoken to) off center as if you are talking to someone standing a few feet to the side of the person you are really talking to. It really is important that you go home and stay home. It may not be fun but if we all did it there will be fewer infected people and it might result in less time living like we are now.

4.  Act as if everyone you come in contact with is infected. Including you. Seriously, how much would you change your behavior if you found out today that you were infected? What if you found out your best friend was infected? Your consumer? The guy behind the fast food counter? If you were infected? Would you have people over? Would you go visit your elderly parents? Go out to eat as much? You know it would change your behavior in a big way. Start acting like everyone is sick. It is going to take all of us acting as if we are all infected to make this infect and kill fewer people and last a shorter amount of time.  And don’t forget, anyone can be sick for up to 14 days and not show any symptoms. So how somebody feels today means absolutely nothing! They may already be sick and may be infecting everyone they come in contact with. Incredibly scary stuff I know, but all true.

The good news, if you change your behavior you can remain healthy. Become vigilant today. Do the above and start counting 14 days. In just two weeks, if you are serious about the changes, you will know you are fine and if you continue you can get through this without being sick and without infecting anyone you care about. I know the only way to be 100% sure is to live in a bubble in a house with no windows far away from anybody but the odds sure get a lot better if you can change your behaviors now.

We are being challenged hard right now. But let’s face it. We are spoiled. We are Americans and we live in southern California. Life is hard but not nearly as hard as much of the world experiences every day. It is normal to not want to change, to not have to give anything up. But this is a big one. This is for real and it is deadly. Odds are good each of you is going to know someone who gets very sick and many of us will know someone who dies during this time.

But we are hard too. We can do what we have to do to protect our family and our loved ones. We can sacrifice parties and being free to do whatever we want for a month or two or until this is over. We are much, much stronger than we can even realize. Many of you already know this about yourselves because of what you have experienced already in your life. Washing our hands, staying home, not hanging out with friends is nothing . Let’s do this right. Keep getting paid and keep your family and friends safe. That’s plenty of motivation right there. More than enough.

Wednesday March 24

I have been told that at least  one of our staff have been pulled over by police and were told that our staff need to be in possession of a letter stating that the job we do is considered an essential job by the state. I assumed all we would have to do is show our badge but maybe we need to do more. I will be writing a letter today and we will be mailing it out to everyone by 4pm today. All you will have to do is print your name in the appropriate place and you should be good to go. Remember, your badge is a required piece of your attire. You must have it with you at all times during your shift. You don’t have to wear it but it has to be on you in case you are ever asked to provide work identification. If you do not have a badge call the office and we will set a time for you to come and get a new one.

Also, I want to encourage anyone with long nails to consider the increased risk you are exposing yourself to and possibly exposing our consumers and staff to. Obviously, people with long nails are at higher risk to have germs on their hands. Long nails are harder to keep clean in the area that matter most, the under side of the nail. Every time you touch your face you are exposing more germs to your face and increasing your risk.

Long hair should be tied back as often as possible because long hair increases the number of times you touch your face. People with long hair are frequently wiping their hair away from their face and touching your face is what we all want to be doing less.

Wednesday, April 1

Hi everybody, Lou here. Lots of information to get to you.

Good news first. You will notice that your upcoming paycheck is exactly 3% fatter. And like I said before, once we get past this virus you will all get the additional 3% I promised you, hopefully to include several months back pay for each of you.

April 5th is payday and this year it lands on a Sunday. Because of this and because of the ADP requirements we will not be getting the checks into our office until Friday the 3rd.  And because of the virus we are now mailing all pay checks out, no one can come to the office and pick up a pay check. So, it is possible that you will not be receiving your check in the mail until Monday. I strongly encourage each of you to use direct deposit. The Bank of America on Springdale and Edinger in HB (our bank) offers discounts to NOM staff for opening an account with them.

For these same reasons it is very important that you notify Joey of any changes in your schedule, any late in the pay period shifts picked up or any problems with MakeShift. Do not wait until a day or two before payday to do this. That is too late and will only make you have to wait until after payday to get a payroll correction check out to you.

Ok, now let’s talk coronavirus. It is real. It is out there and it is spreading. From January 20th when the first american was diagnosed until March 11th the coronavirus had killed 11 people in the United States. Between March 11th and March 31st it killed 4,400. More than 800 died yesterday. In the last 24 hours more than 14,000 tested positive!!  The best case scenario is that between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans will die in the next few weeks!! That’s the best case scenario. If people don’t change their behavior and distance themselves and stay home as much as humanly possible it could reach a million Americans dying.

It is being reported today that up to 25% of people who are testing positive never show any symptoms at all, period. They don’t get sick at all but they are positive for the virus which means they are spreading it non-stop. The experts are reconsidering whether or not we should all be wearing a mask. Covering our mouths and nose.

This is not a “if the virus hits” or even a “when a virus hits”. It is here and it is slamming the United States and the number of infected people is going to climb by hundreds upon hundreds every day for the next few weeks. No more pretending that you don’t have to change any behavior, that it isn’t real or it isn’t as bad as what is being reported, that you are safe. Don’t be dumb. I promise in the next few weeks you are going to know at least one person infected with the virus, probably more than one. Family members can get infected and elderly or those with health issues can die. There is no stopping this until a vaccine is created. We can only hope to keep the numbers down and the only way to do that is if every one of us stays away from others. Go to work, stay away from other at work then go home and stay home. Wash your hands often, sanitize places you touch often (door knobs, tables, etc.). They are advising you to sanitize any packages and your mail or let them sit out for a day or two.

The good news is (the very good news is) that none of our consumers have been diagnosed and none of our staff have been diagnosed with the virus. We have made many changes to how we normally do things to make you and our consumers safer. We have eliminated home visits and all visits by family must now occur outside and must be at least 6 feet away from each other with no physical contact allowed. I encourage all of you to spend as much time as possible outside in the fresh air.  Do not allow yourself or your consumer to get close to anyone. We will begin new changes on Monday for those of you who work in the motels.

Please be smart, be safe and do all you can do to keep the numbers down and keep you, yours and our consumers safe. I want all of you to be able to work and get paid all the way through this period, no matter how long it takes.