Cherokee Nation citizen copes in Chicago amid COVID-19
CHICAGO – Towns, cities and states across the nation have issued protective orders to help slow and stop the spread of COVID-19 with “shelter-in-place” or “stay at home” measures. And Cherokee Nation citizens living in states with these actions are coping.
CN citizen Tim Ketcher, originally of Stilwell, Oklahoma, moved to Chicago in 2012 to work in advertising upon graduating from the University of Oklahoma.
He said on March 18, a “shelter-in-place” order was put into effect for the city and just 48 hours later, the governor put a statewide order in place for Illinois, asking people to stay in their homes and only go out for essentials or medical needs.
“Functionally as I understand it, we can still go out in public,” he said. “We can still go to get essentials at the store, at a pharmacy…things like that. It’s highly, highly discouraged for people to do so. It’s not technically like any military-style lockdown or anything like that. It’s definitely something that people are taking very serious around the city.”
He said as Chicago is one of the busier cities in America, it is almost like a ghost town.
“I live in the third-most populous city in the United States, and it’s definitely a little bit like ghost town, but that’s just kind of the severity of it all. It’s also weird seeing all the panic around like going through grocery stores and people stocking up on toilet paper.”
Ketcher is working from home and said staying at home is also changing his “friendship dynamics.”
“On Wednesday night, my friends and I had a game night,” he said. “We all just play games online but together, and we set up our laptops where we all were able video call and play games at the same time. That was pretty interesting. That was the first time we’ve ever done that. That was fun.”
He said he also regularly updates his family in Oklahoma.
“Connections with my family, I update them as things come to me,” he said. “Being in small town Stilwell and seeing their baby boy up in Chicago, they’re definitely more concerned seeing it from a distance than I am living it.”
Ketcher encourages those living under restrictions to take the time to evaluate themselves mentally and physically. “Multiple, multiple emails have been sent around work encouraging people to get away from the computer, take a walk, decompress however you feel like because we are feeling the effects of this, being so confined within our own apartments, our own houses. It does get to you. You’re within the same room for 10, 15 hours a day and you go to bed, you wake up and you’re still in the same room. That effects people a lot more than they think it does.”
The “shelter-in-place” and “stay-at-home” orders are affecting at least 175 million people in 17 states as 26 counties and 10 cities are urged to stay home, according to a March 24 New York Times article. Those numbers continually change as the virus spreads.
“Obviously, physically take care of yourself if you start to get sick, go see a doctor. That’s still something you’re allowed to do under lockdown, is go seek medical attention. People should definitely be taking their health super seriously,” Ketcher said.
Ketcher said he encourages people to stay positive and help each other out as much as possible. “It’s important to stay vigilant. Help out your friends and family and neighbors as much as you can. I will say that’s been one of the bigger bright spots around the city is every so often you get these little pockets of kindness through stories on the news or whatever of people helping each other, people looking out for each other or just however much of a bright spot you can find to bring to the world it’s important to do that as well.”