Local Current Blog

Keeping the social fabric amidst social distancing

Andy Cook at Pachyderm Studio. (courtesy the artist)

I’m admittedly at a loss for words of how to describe the last couple of weeks. As a person who likes to be in control of situations and wants to “fix things,” the COVID-19 outbreak is the exact opposite.

Ten days ago, when the virus was certainly top-of-mind but seemed far from home, I was excited to put together a music show featuring some of the bands who were going to play at SXSW. Now, that show among multitudes of others, here and across the country, are cancelled — and appropriately so. Music is part of my social fabric and the community I’m so grateful to be a part of. Across the country, this social fabric is getting stretched in an unprecedented manner as a pandemic — it’s scary to even use that word, but that’s what it is — spreads with a force and ferocity like wildfire.

The musician part of me is gutted to see shows cancelled and so much simply shut down; the University of Minnesota School of Public Health graduate part of me knows that they have to be, and that containment efforts must accelerate. (I also wonder where we’d be if testing was more readily available and whether cases would be caught earlier if people didn’t fear the financial burden of a doctor’s office, but that’s a lot longer discussion than we can have here.) So I’m left asking myself, as we implement social distancing, how do we also keep our social fabric in place? And it’s not just music — it’s the arts, small business, community groups, almost everything.

My ideas include listening to my friends’ and favorite artists’ music, ordering records and merch as I’m able, checking in with friends and family, and looking forward to the future to maintain some sense of optimism. This fabric might become a little frayed and fragile as we contain the fire that is the pandemic — but if we keep our social fabric intact during this most challenging of times, we can mend it, put it back on full display, and make it all the more special when we’re on the other side.

So just as I was at a loss for words to describe the last week, I have no certain idea of what the next weeks will bring. But I do know my social fabric, and I’m going to do my best to keep it together as we all keep our distance.

Andy Cook is a musician from Minneapolis and on Brooklyn, NYC-based Good Eye Records as well as a graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health Masters of Healthcare Administration.