TDV COVID-19 Writer's Experiences
Written by Evan Lyons-Berry, Joe Wilhelm, and Kaitlyn Viola
The past few months living in a COVID world has really turned me more pessimistic than I ever was before. I believe that this crisis has shown the decay of capitalism in a clearer light for people that have avoided such a worldview before. I also believe that this is the beginning of the end of the world as we know it. I embrace the end to normality. The pre-Covid “normal” to me is just absurd as the world we are living in right now, and I refuse to believe that we can go back to how things were before. This, despite my pessimism, makes me optimistic for the millions of people adversely affected by this crisis to stand up and say that the world can be better than before. I hope for a better future and I believe this might be the catalyst for real, structural change in society.
Overall, I consider myself lucky when it comes to the current crisis. Thankfully, my family and I are all healthy at the moment. I have done my best to stay at my house, only really going outside to go grocery shopping and to exercise. My Mom-Mom is 96 years old and my mother is asthmatic, so we are doing our best to stay safe and take as few risks as physically possible. All groceries coming into the house are washed in some capacity, and we have worn masks when going out (now a required procedure by NJ State government). I consider myself extremely lucky, as my area is relatively quiet in terms of the virus right now.
This pandemic has taught me a number of things, but maybe none more glaring than my want to be a medical professional. Whether it’s studying for my EMT course or studying for my core Pre-Med courses, the pandemic has seemingly become another source of motivation for studying. Seeing the doctors, nurses, EMT/Paramedics, and hospital staff across the country is inspiring for anyone, but for someone who wants to be in the medical field himself, it is particularly galvanizing. I see the problems that we’re facing, and I see the need for medical professionals, and it is impossible for me not to want to be there. This is one of the most important medically related crises, let alone crises in general, in my lifetime, and I honestly want nothing more than to be able to help. While I know I cannot help in a large capacity now, I’m doing my best to keep my eyes open for volunteer opportunities, particularly in a remote capacity. I encourage others to do the same, if possible.
Even if you cannot volunteer, doing your best to abide your state’s regulations and general social distancing guidelines is enough. We currently live in a world where doing your part involves staying inside and, while it doesn’t seem like much, doing your best to do so is helping more than you think. It isn’t easy, and isn’t always possible, for many, but when put into practice, it has been extremely effective.
By following these guidelines, we can get through this. Humanity has been on this planet for quite some time, and we’ve achieved amazing feats, been through a lot of hardships, and kept going. When we support one another, practice compassion for our fellow human, and keep spirits high, there is little of which we are incapable. We’re going to be okay, and, eventually, this will be over. Stay inside if possible, keep your distance when going out, stay updated but stay calm, and we’ll be back in parks, restaurants, and arenas before you know it.
The event of the Coronavirus outbreak translated, in my household, similarly to the way it did for many Americans. Although inherently concerning, we remained fairly optimistic and calm while adhering to stay-at-home and social distancing orders to the best of our abilities. Granted, we had both an essential worker who continued to be scheduled at Whole Foods, and an immunocompromised diabetic, at the initial spur of the pandemic. However, we remained relaxed and grateful for our positions under the circumstances. Although worrying, we responded to our heightened risk as a household by taking extra precaution during the daily return of our essential worker; upon entering post-shift, he immediately removed his work clothing which was then placed into a plastic bag and put in the wash, and proceeded directly to the shower where he removed his gloves only just before entering.
Life continued as normally as it could until we received notification of an email my family member had received from Whole Foods which stated that a coworker had tested positive for COVID-19. We responded by immediately taking him to be tested through a drive-up testing site, informing them that he had been exposed through his place of work. They administered the test, told us we would hear back within 2 to 5 days, and the waiting game began. After what felt like the longest 48 hours of our family’s lives, we received the call that he had tested positive.
As one can imagine, things changed substantially from here. Our essential worker called out of work, informing them of his positive test; but it does not stop there. He was given a bedroom quarantine order by the nurse who informed him of his positive test. We were instructed to not only get tested immediately, but to sanitize every surface, and essentially inch, of our house as best we could. For the next two weeks, we would cook him every meal and leave it outside of his door. Once he was finished, we would revisit with a mask and gloves in order to take his dishes directly to the sink to be rinsed and sanitized on the hottest setting. Any snack, beverage, or even napkin required a procedural and sanitary delivery by myself, considering my father’s high risk. Showers, which are communally used by the three of us, required an even further procedure. All with a mask and gloves on, I was to have the door opened, water turned on, and the door closed behind him in order to prevent the need for contact of any kind between him and any part of the bathroom, which was to be fully sanitized upon his exit.
Needless to say, balancing remote schooling in addition to becoming a full-time chef, sanitizer, and partial caretaker was nothing short of challenging. I, along with most students, reaped the consequences of many professors’ misconceptions of our “newfound time” and “ideal environment” to focus and complete work. On the contrary, surroundings of roaring news broadcasts around death rates, panic and distress, job losses, the stockpiling of food, lockdowns, and plunging economies, all while awaiting a Coronavirus test result of my own, fell far short of productivity-inducing conditions. Even worse, college students look to an indeterminate future for internships, semester returns, and even careers. During these unprecedented times, if college students hadn’t already felt the weight of the world on their shoulders, they surely do now.