I first published my initial media diary on my blog on August 28, 2021, indicating that “I do not think of myself as much of a media consumer.” However, my media consumption has changed since being diagnosed with COVID-19 this week. Being confined to my home allowed me to binge-watch television shows, surf the internet, and browse social media more than I ever have. I still consider myself a particular media consumer, but I appreciate this moment to spend my day doing things out of the ordinary. I hope you enjoy today’s diary, and I would love to read your quarantine media consumption in the comments below.
5:30 a.m.: The daily alarm goes off, and sadly, I check email and text messages first thing in the morning. 95% of my email is junk, and I quickly trash it. I carry two cellphones, one for personal and the other for work.
I then check my work phone for text messages for client communication. Some mornings I also have to check Google My Business app and my Yelp for Business app for direct messages from clients seeking same-day appointments. Since there was nothing significant and I had nowhere to be, I went back to sleep.
8:00 a.m.: While I desperately want to stay in bed and sleep in longer, I just cannot stay in bed any longer. I recheck email and text messages. Finding nothing pressing, I hop onto Facebook and skim my feed to see what is new with my family and friends. As I peruse my feed, I came across a post by a family friend advising that her husband is in the ICU with COVID pneumonia and needs an ECMO machine and team.
Being sick with COVID and interested in how each person handles this illness, I search for the machine and learn it is the last option for COVID patients unable to sustain oxygen levels or when their lungs are no longer working correctly. Sadly, it appears that patients requiring this machine have less than a 50% survival rate under the best of circumstances.
9:15 a.m.: After learning about the ECMO process and worry for my family friend, I decided to take my dog for a walk. Generally, while working out, I enjoy listening to audiobooks. Today, I am listening to James Patterson’s 21st Birthday. Listening to this book helped get my mind off my friend for the moment and enjoy being outside.
10:15 a.m.: Back home after my walk, I started breakfast. While cooking, I turn on the television and turn it on to something I can listen to but not watch per se. I turned on one of my favorite shows, TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress. While enjoying breakfast and tea, I recheck email and browse more typical news media. Since enrolling in ASU’s Media Literacy I & II, I have subscribed to the New York Times. There was nothing in the headlines today that caught my attention.
12:00 p.m.: I was alerted to a Facebook notification. I opened the Facebook app and was notified about further information regarding my family friend in ICU. The family made a post requesting anyone’s help to call on any resource we have in the medical field to help the family find an available critical care bed in a hospital that has an ECMO machine and a qualified team. I discovered that UCI in Orange, California is the only non-pediatric hospital in our county having this unit. If UCI is the only hope in the county, the family may need to request a bed in a critical care unit out of this jurisdiction.
While I was searching on the internet for county hospitals with an ECMO, another Facebook alert notified me that Dave’s family had made another new post. It read that the patient advocate advised there are no available beds in Orange County or neighboring counties. I recalled a local news article discussing Orange County hospital beds are close to capacity on January 8, 2022.
That got me wondering what “capacity” exactly means. Does this mean every bed in the hospital or ICU is full or staffed patient beds available. Fox 5 San Diego reported data showing that Orange County, California, has 79% inpatient and ICU beds. However, of the 79% of beds unavailable, 17% of inpatient beds and 22% of ICU beds are occupied by COVID-positive patients. While it is true O.C. hospital beds are nearing capacity, headlines framed in this manner make it appear COVID patients are causing the capacity challenges.
It has also been brought to light that staffing challenges reduce available patient beds. The Sacramento Bee ran an article explaining what hospital capacity is. The newspaper confirmed that 22% of “staffed” patient beds are available. The use of the word “staffed” speaks volumes. If the hospital is not fully staffed, that will limit the number of beds available for any patient. An NBC affiliate reported that hospitals are experiencing staffing shortages due to COVID exposures and positive diagnoses. Fresno, California, saw 300 medical staff out at the same time due to Covid this past week.
It is essential to research the whole picture before taking a headline or one article at face value. Although knowing this alleviates some initial panic about what is happening with our local hospitals, this information does not paint a good picture for my family friend in need.
1:30 p.m.- 5:30 p.m.: Even though my son and I are home COVID positive, he still has homework. During this time of day is when there is no time for media. The amount of time it takes to beg, bribe, persuade, threaten and coerce my son to do his homework still amazes me. We get it done and enjoy a family dinner.
5:30 p.m.: Every day, I check my county’s daily covid cases and venture onto Twitter to check the O.C. Health Department’s page to check Coronavirus updates. I stay current on cases in my community since I am in a public-facing career and in an industry that has been subject to closures in high community spread. Staying up to date on this information allows me to plan for the worst while hoping for the best. I admit I enjoy reading the comments to posts and today’s comments never failed to entertain. With perfect timing in discussing hospital bed capacity, a Twitter user posted this meme to another user’s hospital capacity concerns:
Out of curiosity to know where the image originated, I performed a reverse image search. A reverse image search can help determine if the image has been doctored from the original or similar images found on the internet. In my case, the picture was a meme. This meme has been used in other contexts, but none in the context used on Twitter.
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.: Typically, this time of night, I am getting my son, and I ready for the next day, but we have nowhere to go tomorrow since we are in quarantine. I rarely get an opportunity to watch television, and the one symptom I am experiencing with COVID is fatigue. Tonight my son is watching YouTube on his computer, and I am binge-watching Animal Planet: The Zoo.
8:30 p.m.: This is an early night for us since we both are not feeling that great as the night goes on. It is lights out with hopes for good rest to heal quicker from this virus.
I am grateful that my Facebook feed is relatively tame compared to most stories I hear in reviewing my consumption. My Facebook friends do not typically post conspiracy theories and questionable content, thankfully. I am not one to scroll for hours through social media or news headlines. I am a consumer of specific media and feel that keeps me grounded in understanding credible content and “fake news.” I can also keep my emotions in check and refrain from getting angry when I see misrepresentation of data occurring. Sadly, the trend I see is in sensationalized headlines that are negative and cause people to respond. I believe people are scared, and rightfully so. Studies have shown people inherently gravitate to negative news and hold on to that negativity all day. I try to empathize with people’s fear. If I were to respond to comments like those highlighted above, I would respond by affirming their fear and encouraging research to ease those fears.