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Our new normal: Life in a time of social distancing

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The coronavirus pandemic is impacting two quintessential Washington, D.C. attractions. The Cherry Blossom Parade is canceled, and all the Smithsonian museums have shut their doors indefinitely.

Spring-like weather and sunshine are exactly what Michelle and Vaughn Taylor hoped for on their relaxing day-date Friday afternoon.

“You know how that gets when you’re really busy and you don’t really link up schedules with the kids? Today was our final day to try to get together,” said Vaughn Taylor.

It was the “final day” for the Aberdeen, Maryland couple because starting Monday, all four of their kids will be home. Maryland, D.C. and Virginia schools are closed for at least the next two weeks because of the coronavirus.

“Kinda sucks, honestly. Because you make plans for things and you have to rearrange those plans and stuff like that,” said Michelle Taylor.

The Taylors own small businesses and the cancellation of large events and closures might impact their work. Michelle was supposed to travel out of state for a dog grooming competition, but it was postponed.

“I don’t know that there’s a way not to be disappointed or frustrated with this unfortunately,” said Dr. Amy Bowers.

READ: LIST: Events/attractions that have been cancelled/closed in D.C. due to COVID-19 fears

Bowers is a Northern Virginia-based clinical psychologist who said mental health is critical during this “new normal” of social distancing and canceled plans.

“This is a time where we do need to pull together as a community while we’re also not physically in close proximity to each other, which can be tricky. It’s also important to remember that this is time limited,” she said.

Humans are social beings. Bowers suggests keeping connected with phone calls, FaceTime and email.

Lines of people gathered in front of multiple Smithsonian museums along the National Mall Friday. Once the doors closed for the night, they are closed indefinitely.

“Due to the rapidly changing nature of the situation, we are not announcing a reopening date at this time and will provide updates on a week-to-week basis on our websites,” the statement said.

Mother and daughter visitors, Geraldine & Linda Yackel of Daytona Beach, took a train from Florida to the Nation’s Capital to celebrate a birthday and watch the Capitals. The Saturday night hockey game was cancelled and the Yackels are out $800.

“We’re gonna have to scrub all our plans,” said Geraldine Yackel.

The women are both registered nurses and said they understand the need to shut down large events like professional sports games and museums.

Michelle and Vaughn Taylor said they weren’t worrying about their small businesses and what to do with their children when school ends. They will have that conversation this weekend, after their much-needed date.

“You definitely have to be mindful. Don’t overdo it,” said Michelle.

“If you’re tuned it to your own mental health and physical health, I think we’ll all endure this much better and we’ll have more to give to others who might need us, said Bowers.

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“It allows us to be aware of what other people are going through with compassion. So, what might be depressing for one person, maybe there’s something to offer a word of encouragement to that person.”

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