The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Reminded Us All About the Importance of a Phone Call


Call volumes increased to jaw-dropping numbers during the beginning of the pandemic, and this cancer survivor hopes that trend continues even after we are out of the pandemic.

Recently, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and made an accurate prediction for six more weeks of winter. And unfortunately, since then, deadly storms have wreaked havoc on our nation and, sadly, dozens of Americans perished. But something good did come out of this horrific experience: neighbors helped neighbors survive.

For those of us in the cancer community trapped indoors (because of the weather and COVID-19), this presents an opportunity to help in an important way: reach out to neighbors and friends with an encouraging phone call. A warm, friendly voice on the line goes nicely with a delivery of food and water or a warming station to weather the storm.

Call Volume Rises Sharply

Looking back to the first few weeks of the pandemic lockdown, folks were calling each other at an unprecedented rate.

In an April 2020 story in the New York Times, Verizon was then processing more calls a day (800 million), doubling that made on Mother’s Day, when every son and daughter in America is using their phone to talk to their mom. Verizon estimated the length of voice calls were up by a jaw-dropping 33% over the average day before the COVID-19 pandemic made us homebound. AT&T also reported off-the-chart numbers of phone calls.

Cancer Survivors Have a Role

We cancer survivors, while away many hours at home, await the results of scans and blood work. Just think of it, there are at last count approximately 17 million of us. What if we all picked up the phone and called a shut-in resident truly cut off from all communication – especially those who cannot master the intricacies of FaceTime or Skype.

I have one such friend, in her mid-80s, who is at a loss when it comes to the latest technology. So every month, I pick up the phone and call her for a lengthy conversation the old-fashioned way. In 2020, she was hospitalized three times for a persistent pneumonia. But I dwell on more upbeat topics such as her precious grandchildren and the latest news about fellow worshippers at our church.

Are Phone Calls Here to Stay?

She is from a generation when phone calls were the gold standard for communication. She was in her 60s when emails became a popular way to keep in touch and in her 70s when texts had already become the rage.

Now, thank goodness, things have gone full circle.

Sure, people still text and email. But I hope people continue to pick up the phone and call after we are fully out of the pandemic. Fingers crossed!

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