But now, with bars and restaurants reopening to various degrees, Instagram is once again the venue to show off the contents of your dinner plate or the orange tinge of your Aperol spritz on a night out. Facebook feeds are often full of happy reunion photos of families and friends in backyards and at beaches.
People who consider themselves low risk for complications from infection could still get seriously ill, or pass the disease onto someone more vulnerable, yet that has not proved to be enough of a deterrent to keep many of them home. Beaches are packed, vacation homes are booked, and those itching to travel are crisscrossing the country in recreational vehicles, bidding adieu to those long months spent in lockdown.
And so, two worlds are emerging: the people still staying home, and those who’ve decided they’ve had enough.
For those who cannot risk going out, “there is a feeling of helplessness, like what else is going to limit my life?” said Anne Marie Albano, the director of the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders. “It’s going to heighten in a very real way their feelings of loneliness, estrangement and guilt.”
Phyliss DiLorenzo, 62, who lives in Jersey City, N.J., and has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, administers a Facebook support group for people with the disease. The conversations among members have been fraught, with some worried they won’t be able to leave their homes until a vaccine is developed. “It’s been a roller coaster,” she said.
Ms. DiLorenzo lives with her husband in a small one-bedroom apartment, and as Jersey City has opened up, the narrow sidewalks outside her building have gotten crowded, making it more difficult for her to socially distance outside. “It’s sort of a double-edged sword,” she said. “Part of me wishes I could partake in it. On the other side, I’m anxious about it.”
For Jen Singer, a writer and cancer survivor in Red Bank, N.J., the loosening of stay-at-home orders has cut her off from her favorite place, the beach. She lives just five miles from Seabright State Beach, but since early June, it has been packed, and she has seen few people wearing masks.