Daily COVID-19 Update: March 31, 2020


Dear Bereans,

This is the update for Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

An announcement from the Labor Program

March 31st of this year would have been the 99th year of holding Labor Day celebrations at Berea College. Unfortunately, our plans had to be canceled due to the pandemic. And while we cannot physically celebrate together, the Labor Program wanted you to know that today especially of all days, we appreciate everyone’s commitment, students, staff and faculty to the good work that propels this special mission onward.

An announcement from Printing Services

Printing Services is no longer open for business, per the Governor’s direction late last week of additional businesses that needed to close to the public.  The Printing Services team is now telecommuting, while staying focused on College services.   However, they will still be available to respond on campus to emergency copier or paper needs that may arise that are critical to College operations.  Please email any requests to Printing Services Group or GprintingSERVICES@berea.edu.

An announcement from Dining Services

On the basis of when students are coming to Dining, we are making following change to our hours of operations.

  • Breakfast – 7:30 to 9:00 am (currently 7:30 – 10:00 am,  on average we have two students from 9-10) 
  • Lunch – 11:00 – 1:00 pm (currently 11:30 – 1:30pm, on average we 0 students from 1 -1:30pm) 
  • Dinner 5:00pm – 7:00pm (currently 4:30 – 7:30pm, on average we get 1 student from 4:30 – 5 pm and 0 students from 7 – 7:30 pm) 

A tidbit from the Berea-Is-Everywhere Department

You have all heard how our country’s industrial organizations are trying to rally around the important goal of producing medical equipment and PPE in the quantities that will be needed to navigate through the peak of COVID-19 cases still to come.  Today, I learned that our own Jack Roush ‘64, founder of Roush Engineering, a major firm providing specialty engineering services to auto companies and others, is collaborating with the Mayo Clinic in gearing up to produce medical equipment to assist in that effort.  (Roush also co-owns and manages the Roush Fenway NASCAR team, so the respirators they fabricate may also turn out to be capable of going 200 mph.)

An announcement from Counseling Services

Greetings!  Please know that although the staff of Counseling Services is working remotely, we are still available to our students.  We are working closely with the College’s General Counsel, Judge Wilson, and IS&S  to ensure that the services we are offering students are HIPAA Compliant, safe and secure, and meet our profession’s highest ethical standards.   Students can call our office at 859-985-3212.  Angela Taylor has had the phone forwarded to her home number so she is ready and able to continue answering calls.  She will forward messages meant for any of the counselors or you may email a counselor directly.  Email addresses are:

We are posting daily messages and tips to our Facebook page, and invite both students and campus colleagues to take advantage of information on how to navigate these challenging times. There is a different theme for each day: Mindful Mondays, Tuesday Tips, Well Wednesday, Thoughtful Thursday, and Funny Friday.

Listed are a  few tips to meant to help you maintain your mental health while complying with directives from the CDC, Governor Beshear, and President Roelofs to shelter in place, maintain social distancing practices, and attend to our human need for connection in creative ways.

  1. Feelings are not facts.  However, they are useful data to be considered within the context of facts.  Instead of pushing away uncomfortable feelings, become curious about them. What we resist, persists.  Notice the ebb and flow of the intensity of a feeling.  Notice how painful feelings might lesson after a few deep breaths.  The goal is not to eliminate painful feelings but to learn to tolerate the painful ones and lessen their intensity
  2. Worry is the practice of borrowing trouble from the future.  Do your best to address what the day brings, and trust your ability to respond to whatever tomorrow brings.
  3. According to author Brene Brown, when we start dress rehearsing tragedy, we rob ourselves of present joy.  Savor the joyful moments. Don’t dilute your joy with expecting the other shoe to drop when things are okay right now.
  4. Social media is great for communication but for connection, pick up the phone, arrange to have dinner with friends via Zoom, take a blanket and gather six feet apart on the quad. Be creative in how you stay in touch during this time of sheltering in place.
  5. Don’t expect your life to be as productive as it was before the COVID-19 outbreak.  Revise your expectations to what can truly be accomplished during this “new normal.”  Could this be a time of reflection, creativity, new approaches, a consolidation of good information gleaned from attending workshops, conferences, reading, and stimulating conversations?
  6. Practice gratitude.  Verbalize three things you are grateful for each day.  It could be as small as a delicious cup of coffee, a bluebird couple making their home in the bird house in your back yard, or as big as relative economic wellbeing, and the health of you and your family.
  7. Loss of Control may be the hardest thing to accept in our current situation.  A colleague from the Beck Institute shares  the following:

More advice on coping strategies is below, “Using Cognitive Behavior Therapy to Respond to COVID-19.”

We will get through this.  Some with more heartache than others.  But no one need go through it alone.  We are here as colleagues to our amazing faculty and staff and as mental health counselors for our students.

Stay safe and healthy,

Sue
Sue Reimondo, Ph.D., LPCC
Director
Berea College Counseling Service

A sociological perspective: The multi-faceted implications of social connection through the COVID-19 pandemic

By Andrea Woodward, Associate Professor of Social Sciences

In the first sociological study ever conducted, Emile Durkheim showed a powerful link between social isolation and risk of suicide in 19thcentury Europe. Ever since, social research has continued to reveal links between social isolation and poor health, premature death, susceptibility to disease, and more. Much recent news commentary draws from this research to emphasize the need to connect as much as possible amid social distancing so the solution to one health crisis doesn’t create another. But our need to connect has other implications for “flattening the curve” as well. As with the climate crisis, while many Americans are making necessary changes to their lifestyles, others are in denial and insisting on business as usual. Social research on why we believe and act the way we do in the face of the climate crisis is useful for thinking about why people are slow to act in response to COVID-19 as well—and how to bridge this divide. As Andrew Hoffman summarizes in How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate, we process information through cognitive filters that affirm our own identity and reinforce connections with people who matter most to us. If believing something or acting in a particular way will put distance between us and those we care most about, we’ll choose connection over agreeing with facts nearly every time. To reach consensus, we need to be able to identify and communicate through what’s threatening a “denier’s” connection to other people (and to themselves) when they’re told this pandemic is real and they need to act fast. This requires authentic connection and trust, and it often means that the best messengers are the people whom someone already has the closest ties (e.g. “best messengers” often come from one’s religious community, political party, etc.). The bottom line, from a sociological perspective, is that keeping our focus on human connection—especially in the midst of physical isolation—will be key to promoting public health through this pandemic and to getting through to the other side of it as quickly as possible.

 

Warm regards from Berea,

Lyle Roelofs, President

More from Counseling Services

Using CBT to Respond to COVID-19
March 26, 2020
By Allen R. Miller, PhD, MBA

The absence of consistent and reliable information about the coronavirus seems to be increasing people’s anxiety. They often think, “I don’t know what to do”;  “Am I doing the right thing”; and “What else should I be doing?” No wonder they feel confused and overwhelmed. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is uniquely suited to help people gain control of their lives and feel better.

Public health officials have given us directions to maintain physical distance from others, wash our hands for 20 seconds, and disinfect our surroundings. While many people are following those directions, some are not. Following these directives doesn’t necessarily alleviate people’s fears about what comes next, though. Indeed, there is a lot of uncertainty. We don’t know the path of the virus nor its longevity. The destruction that has already been done by the virus doesn’t seem to be the full measure of its toll. We have seen people react to the pandemic by trying to gain control of their lives and surroundings. It is the effort to gain excessive control that leads to constant checking and sometimes hoarding of crucial medical supplies.

Paradoxically, the more we try to control everything in our environments, the less control we feel. The infinite number of possible actions is greater than we can calculate, let alone act upon. We need to do what we reasonably can to manage ourselves and our surroundings and ultimately, we need to get comfortable with the idea that we don’t have control.

What is the cost of the relentless pursuit of control? Observable behaviors like bulk purchasing and excessive cleaning are the tip of the iceberg. Underlying these behaviors are a range of negative thoughts and painful emotions. CBT tells us that excessive attempts to control are associated with thoughts such as “I am vulnerable,” and assumptions that “If I don’t overprepare, then I will fall victim.” When we think this way, we feel fear and irritability. When thoughts, emotions and behaviors are aligned in this way, a repetitive cycle begins based on the belief  “There is danger and whatever I do is inadequate.” This is the underlying explanation for why trying to gain control only leads individuals to feel less in control.

How do you give up control and how does giving up control help you to feel better? CBT uses a scientific approach to answer these questions. First, question yourself about what sounds reasonable and is founded in scientific evidence. For instance, “Does it make sense and is there evidence to support the effectiveness of recommendations such as social distancing, hand washing, and keeping your hands away from your face?” Alternatively, “Does it make sense and is there evidence to suggest that repeatedly scrubbing your hands for more than 20 seconds will reduce the likelihood of contracting the virus?” Most people conclude that the first question is answered affirmatively and that the second question is not. Listening to public health officials and saying, “I have done everything that is reasonably possible” is a step that illustrates that one is shifting the focus from listening to fear-related thoughts such as “I am in danger” to more realistic thoughts such as “I have followed the recommendations of the scientists who know more about the virus that I do.”

The next step can be a difficult one. Unfortunately, doing everything that we possibly can do does not give us absolute control over the virus, or even our immediate surroundings. Even on a good day, we as individuals don’t control the world. Whether it’s good things that happen to us on a daily basis or a global pandemic, we don’t sit in the driver’s seat. In spite of the actions we take, we don’t control much about our surroundings. This step is accepting at a deep level that we don’t have control. In situations when we don’t get what we want, or worse, that we get what we don’t want, we may feel hurt and angry.

If we give up control, where does that leave us? Well, most of us are left at home isolated from people we know and deprived of activities we like. This is a perfect time to reflect on things we truly value and what is important to us. This is a very individual matter. People may value being productive, providing for their families, spirituality, relationships, activities, the arts, sports, or something else. Which of these that we as individuals value is not the important thing, although we may reassess what we think is important at a time like this.

When we have identified what we value and what is important to us, we are uniquely empowered to pursue those things. CBT tells us that acting according to our values will help us feel better and improve our self-efficacy. We have empowered ourselves to act on those things we have determined are most important to us. By doing so, we give ourselves control. Control— the thing we have wanted all along— is now ours. As we move along this path, it is essential that we keep in mind what we value. What we do and how we do it will be meaningful and have purpose for us when we remind ourselves that we are pursuing our own aspirations.

We can use CBT to reduce our fears, conquer overwhelmed feelings, change our thinking and act in meaningful ways.