Still at Work — with Jeremy Kuo
Many people from all three Grace Church locations are working as front-line employees—whether in grocery stores, hospitals, labs, restaurants, or public safety roles around this area. On the other hand, many of us have been safely at home, wondering what it’s like and how we can help. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be hearing from essential workers in multiple areas as they help us answer those questions.
This week, we hear from Jeremy Kuo, an elder at Grace Ann Arbor who works as an epidemiologist with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
CHRISTINE: Alright so starting from the beginning, can you first introduce yourself and then tell me a little bit about what you do?
JEREMY: My name is Jeremy Kuo, and I’m an epidemiologist with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. I’m normally with the division of immunizations, but ever since the pandemic hit, I’ve been involved with COVID-19 response. Specifically, I’ve been monitoring any travelers who fly in from out of state. I have the added responsibilities of monitoring those travelers, so that’s just kind of another layer of stress on top of my normal immunizations work. Because something that’s come up in the past couple of days is that while we’re at home, a lot of people—and kids especially—are missing out on doctors doctor’s visits to get their normal shots and immunizations. So that leaves the population more vulnerable for other diseases that aren’t coronavirus, you know, once social distancing kind of relaxes a little bit.
While I’m at home working, there doesn’t seem to be a real ending time. This work doesn’t stop at five. Cases still come in, travelers still travel. So, it’s hard for me to balance. When’s a good time to stop working? Should I keep crunching these numbers? When, you know, lives are depending on it.
C: So with all of that kind of craziness, how have you seen God at work through this situation?
J: Yeah, one thing that kind of surprised me pretty pleasantly is the way that I’ve been able to start and cultivate relationships with some co-workers. I think through this, we’ve seen our division be really encouraging for each other. Not all of us are wrapped up with the COVID-19 response, but quite a bit of us are, and it’s been really awesome to be able to meet (virtually of course) with each other and be able to encourage each other. And still have, you know, fun, productive meetings. But that was something that I definitely think God had a hand in: creating those relationships.
C: And how have you personally been able to stay rooted in Christ through all of this?
J: I’ll admit that there have been quite a few very tough moments, very tough, late nights—I mean just last night I think I got like three hours of sleep—where things seemed pretty desperate and pretty hopeless. But at the same time, I think those relationships and those conversations that I’m able to have with people definitely give me something to cling onto, to hope for. I think that’s what Jesus is all about–to be that last shred of hope when there is nothing left that I can hang on to.
And I think, too, this whole experience has kind of woken me up in a way to things that I really value and find important. Relationships with people and conversations with people. As much as I like to say I’m an introvert, I do miss people, and friends and loved ones.
C: How can we be supporting you and other epidemiologists and state employees at Grace during this time?
J: Um, you know, I think one very real thing is to listen. We put out a lot of guidelines, we put out a lot of messages, and I think that there’s evidence, thankfully, that it’s working: the social distancing measures measures, stay at home measures. Hopefully we’re turning a corner, and hopefully things will get better. I don’t think we’ll go back to normal; I think things will be better. And so, at least for me and my co-workers, the best possible thing to do right now is just to keep staying at home. Keep hunkering down. We know it’s hard. I know it’s hard. We’re all experiencing it. But the sooner that we can get rid of it, the sooner we can get out, and I can see people! So listening would be a huge thing, and to keep praying for us, keep praying for me.
And one thing that I’ve been really sad about is if I’ve ever had to work on weekends, which has been the past few weekends, missing out on the livestream sometimes (of course I can go back and watch it later), and then virtual community group. That has been a little sad for me to have to miss. But, you know, just keep on doing those things. Me hearing those stories is really encouraging of people being able to meet online and play games and chat and catch up and stay connected. Keep doing that because that’s really encouraging for me to see. So I might not be able to be a part of it all the time but I’m very happy to know that it’s happening. Personally for me. Keep it up.