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I feel guilty during the pandemic.

I, as many people are, am bored. There are only so many TV shows or Netflix films to be watched. When the pandemic first hit California the shutdown was initially for two weeks, now 11 months later we are still in a shelter-in-place scenario.

I miss many of the things I love to do such as traveling, visiting museums and photography.

I have had four vacations canceled so far with another two that are questionable and will probably get canceled. I also cannot do many of the other things I enjoy. Sharks games are either away or no fans allowed. Many museums are closed or if opened, not sure I want to visit so I can keep my social distance.

I love doing photography and working with models. The models are mostly friends who volunteer but with the pandemic, I haven’t been doing much photography as I stay mostly at home.

I am not your typical college student as I am an older person who is retired from their career as an engineer for a major aerospace company. I am also a student at Las Positas College, at first taking classes solely to keep my brain active. Later I started getting more involved at LPC, active in the Student Veterans Organization, President of the LPC Camera Club, volunteer photographer for the Athletic department among other involvement.

As I am over 65 I am in the group that is currently eligible to get the vaccine. My appointment is on Feb 27. I feel guilty I am in a high-priority group. People who are exposed to the public routinely such as people who work in the food industry, retail, and transportation industry should be a high priority for the vaccine.

I feel guilty as many people would love to only have my issues and concerns. Many people have lost their jobs or their pay has been cut by having reduced hours, etc. Over 10 million people in the US, 1.5 million in California are currently unemployed. Unemployment benefits, the max in California is only $450 a week. This amount will not even cover most rents in the bay area plus leave funds for food, medical care, utilities including Internet access and other necessities of life.

Many businesses are closing as they cannot survive with no or minimal income. In Livermore alone, businesses that closed are Connelly’s Furniture, Vans health food store, Dom’s Outfitters and Livermore Spa among others.

Many restaurants that remain open are barely hanging on as takeout may not cover the overhead and expenses. Many of the wait staff have been laid off. People tend not to tip or only tip a small percentage for takeout which reduces the income of the staff that is still working.

The pandemic has not hurt me financially as my income has remained the same as most of my income is from pensions, social security and retirement savings. I have enough income to cover all the things I plan to do and the trips I plan to take when the pandemic is over.

That is why I feel so guilty as the pandemic has only affected me slightly by forcing me to mainly stay home being bored. I still have my health and have not gotten COVID-19. I am thankful for that.

I do try to make up for my guilt by trying to help people in need. I donate money to the East Bay Community Food Bank and the Tri-Valley Haven and volunteer at the LPC Market when it is held.

Alan Lewis is the photo editor of The Express. Follow him @AlanLew89343503.

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