Coping With Quarantine: Photographer and senior citizen Candice Wilmore

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Coping With Quarantine is a recurring feature that examines how people across Greater Lansing are being affected by the coronavirus. City Pulse aims to interview a diverse cast of residents as they adjust to a new lifestyle under the measures taken in Michigan to curb the pandemic. If you are interested in being featured, please contact ashleycitypulse@gmail.com

FRIDAY, April 3 — Candice Wilmore, 71, is a retired retail sales worker and photographer. She stays in the senior living apartment complex Friendship Manor, which is near the Frandor Shopping Center.

“Since I’m retired and have a regular income, there’s no sense of fear financially,” Wilmore said. “As an older person with a stable income, who doesn’t have to worry about rent and things like that, my heart just breaks for those who — on top of everything else — have to worry about feeding their children or paying their rent.”

Wilmore said her experience is akin to living in two levels of self-isolation, as the apartment complex has its own special set of lockdown rules. Residents are not allowed in the common areas, and Wilmore said social distancing practices have left the halls mostly barren.

“We’ve been on lockdown since Gov. Whitmer announced it herself. It’s almost like a lockdown within a lockdown,” Wilmore said.

Wilmore said she gets her groceries and necessities from the Frandor Kroger, and takes many precautions when exiting her residence. Even before the coronavirus was reported in Michigan, she made a habit of wearing a mask and latex gloves.

“I’m 71 and I’ve had chronic illness for over 30 years. I felt extremely frightened in the beginning,” Wilmore said. “I don’t feel that way as much now but in the beginning, I thought, ‘If I get this thing, there’s no way I am going to survive it.’ Even though I didn’t have the fear of losing my income, I had the fear I wouldn’t need any income.”

Wilmore is obviously conscious of the coronavirus’ lethality against the elder age demographic. She joked about discovering the tongue-in-cheek, if not offensive, nickname for the coronavirus, “The Boomer Remover.”

“When I heard it, I just laughed. Let people laugh, it’s not offensive to me. I made a meme of myself wearing a mask that said, ‘71 and just getting started.’ I think we all need humor right now,” Wilmore said.

Despite the isolation orders from Friendship Manor, Wilmore still stays in touch with her fellow residents. She chats with her friends either on the phone or — if she catches them in the hallway — in-person at a distance of well over 6 feet. While Friendship Manor residents like Wilmore can’t have guests, residents that require caregivers are still allowed to receive in-person assistance, though Wilmore says she’s seen some caregivers not wear personal protection equipment while traversing the building.

“My best friend lives across the hall, and he shops for me if I don’t feel like doing it. We’re in our 70s but there are people here in their 80s and 90s, and we offer to get things for them,” Wilmore said. “The halls are a ghost town. The people have been really cooperating with the orders. You just don’t see anybody.”

Wilmore passes her time on the Internet, either interacting with her friends from global nonprofit, the Prem Rawat Foundation, or helping out with local efforts to help Greater Lansing’s homeless population.

“I don’t know what any of us would do without the Internet right now. It’s very interesting to read stories from friends all over the world,” Wilmore said.

Wilmore said her involvement with the homeless community is her chief concern. Citing a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she stressed the importance of not evicting homeless tent encampments, such as the one she helped organize at Holy Cross Services on Larch Street.

“I contacted the police department before we set the camp up. We have been getting amazing donations of tents and sleeping bags,” Wilmore said. “The CDC says under normal conditions this would be considered unsanitary but in this situation, it may even be safer than a shelter.”

Wilmore added that she was very livid with the United States' response to the coronavirus. “As much as I disdain our president, I do not focus on him. All of the agencies worldwide were warned about this. I think the United States’ response has been horrific,” Wilmore said.

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