This essay, written by my friend and classmate Jane White, discusses the COVID-19 virus and how it has affected society as a whole, particularly high school students.
By Jane White
The other day, I watched the movie I Am Legend with my family, and it was frightening how similar the conditions were in this fictional film to what is actually happening in real life. I never thought I would be living through a historical event, much less one that is hurting so many people globally. The coronavirus that is affecting us right now, from what I have learned, is known as COVID-19. CoronaVirus Infectious Disease, and 19 for the year the outbreak began. It is a respiratory virus spread through close contact with a host that causes a dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and a fever. Eventually, as the infection moves into the lower respiratory tract, it causes pneumonia and restricts air from getting through to the alveoli inside the lungs. The lack of oxygen causes major organ failure and eventually death. However, a normal healthy person’s immune system is usually strong enough to fight it off. It is usually older people and people who are immunosuppressed that have a more difficult time with the virus. So far, it has ravaged it’s way across the globe. New York recently became the epicentre of the virus in the United States, and all countries have closed their borders and restricted travel. From China to France to Texas, all people are expected to stay inside and self-isolate, so the spread of the virus can hopefully be controlled. All countries have been hit extremely hard by the coronavirus, such as Italy in which 27,359 people have already died and funerals are not allowed due to the proximity limitations. Despite the awful situations that many people are in, it is interesting to observe the range of reactions that people have to this situation.
Everyone seems to be reacting differently to the knowledge that there is a pandemic spreading among us, and many of these reactions are completely justified. Not many people have experienced something of this magnitude in their lifetimes, or if they did, they probably never expected it again. Currently the coronavirus is inciting many different reactions across the globe. Some believe that it is a life-threatening disease that should be treated like the plague, and they overestimate the true ability of the virus, while others are completely ignorant of the real damage it can cause and won’t abide by the safety rules. While it’s never safe to completely disregard the safety of not only yourself but others at risk, it’s also not entirely useful to go overboard on protection without knowing the true risks. Wearing a mask in public to protect yourself from others and protect others from you, as well as keeping a clean living space and making sure all surfaces brought into the home are sanitized is very important. Despite these generally negative reactions, some people have reacted positively to this crisis. All over the internet, stories are popping up about people helping other people, neighbours getting groceries for other neighbours and kids decorating their porches and driveways for other kids’ birthdays. The internet is helping us stay positive and stay connected, and in my experience, it has been very beneficial.
As far as quarantine is concerned, I feel as if I’m doing better than some people I know. Many of my friends are very social, and I know it’s hard for them not being able to see anyone else. However, the internet and social media have really helped all of us. Technology has impacted quarantine in a major way, from keeping the world updated on the progression of the virus to allowing self-isolated friends and family members keep in touch to providing a bit of entertainment when home feels like a prison. Even though it’s lonely not being able to see other people, I still have the privilege of emailing and messaging my friends to check up on them, see how their day was or even just chat like we normally do. My quarantine experience so far has been one of long days and longer nights, but it’s comforting to know that many people are in the same boat as me. I have been taking the free time that I have outside of online school hours to play games with my parents, draw, listen to music, go biking with my dad or walking with my mum, and chat with my friends. Despite the many negative outcomes that have come so far, I honestly feel like it’s an important thing for the earth, nature and people in general. Staying indoors and isolated has helped people get more creative with their time, finally work on that new hobby, cook food for family and friends, and reconnect with the people in their lives. People staying indoors have also decreased pollution in both air and water, allowed for the emergence of formerly endangered animals, and for the recuperation of the earth. As much as I dislike the thought of thousands of people dying across the globe, and thousands more in danger and in need of supplies and safety, I feel like this pandemic does have a positive effect in some way.
My reaction and the reactions of my parents and friends are as varied as people across the country and world. My parents are cautious about the things entering our house, and disinfecting the vehicle after leaving the community. All three of us wear our masks when leaving the house, but we aren’t too concerned about our health. A regular immune system has enough power to fight off an infection in the early stages, and we are and always have been a very healthy family. However, our lack of concern about a serious infection in our house doesn’t stop us from making sure the people around us are safe and secure. As for my friends, they have also had varied experiences and opinions. My friend Sara wrote to me, “As an aspiring medical doctor, it’s definitely been interesting to experience a pandemic. If anything, it’s made me want to learn more about virology and medicine in general. I see the shortage of medical professionals, and those who are so stressed out they resort to suicide and it breaks my heart. Unfortunately that’s the reality and it makes me want to get out there and help even more.” My other friend Isabella wrote to me, “Covid-19 is something extremely serious yet for most of us we don't even feel as though much is happening. Because we do not see what is happening with our eyes and we are at home and continuing our school work it's hard to believe something so crazy is going on. Personally I enjoy quarantine because if we're being honest it isn't that different from my normal life. Now I just have an excuse not to go out!”
I can’t see the future, but I hope it turns out differently due to the coronavirus. In a crisis like this, it’s important for people to support others, and there has been plenty of that going around. However, even when there isn’t a pandemic sweeping the globe, people should always look out for others, and I hope that after this is over, more people understand that. The same goes for the impact people have on the environment. I hope that with the evidence of human impact shown more clearly, such as the decrease in pollution and re-emergence of animals, people are able to see and change how they interact with the earth.