COVID-19 Is Here To Stay

Every time we try to forget about the pandemic, it doesn’t forget about us


On February 22, 2020, I wrote in my notebook, “I’m looking forward to spring, my birthday season. I’m excited for classes, longer days, and warmer weather.” At this point, COVID was an “everywhere else problem,” not a huge deal in the United States yet. The mood surrounding the pandemic was much of this:”Look at Italy in lockdown! They’re playing ping-pong from their balconies!” Some of my friends were worried, others weren’t. Some people believed it was real, others didn’t.

On February 22, 2020, I had high hopes for Spring. I was getting a car, I was going to go to the beach, I was planning. On March 17, Mt. SAC closed the campus down to help enforce social distancing. On March 21, my work closed down and operated drive-thru only.

My expectations fell short of that very quickly. Spring was now about stocking up on soap, gloves, masks, hand sanitizer too. It seemed like utter chaos yet, it seemed like not much had changed at all. Life still went on. For some people, coronavirus meant loss of a family member or a dear friend. For me, it meant increased business at work and more family time.

Nonetheless, I consider myself very fortunate. I live in a country where I have access to healthcare through my job, I have the ability to financially support myself through the pandemic, and I feel as though I was mostly sheltered from the horrors of the virus. I have seen multiple videos on Twitter of healthcare workers quitting their jobs due to the morbid and demanding nature of working through COVID-19, yet I happily stayed at my job feeling not very concerned about catching it from the public. Looking back on this spring, I felt very detached from COVID-19 itself. I consumed news updates on the pandemic, with Italy initially leading in highest fatalities, then to the UK and the U.S.

The people around me however, were still getting coffees and buying Easter cards.

Imagine my surprise when I read that in the U.S. was at over 111,000 deaths, according to an article from NBC News. In that same article NBC News stated that as of May 22, more have died in New York than in any country except Italy and the United Kingdom. That’s a big deal.

Here in America, people have protested the quarantine. They have protested a virus, demanding haircuts and shopping trips in a time where a Walmart trip could mean a fatality for a grandmother or a child at home with a weak immune system. We were privileged enough to say that we didn’t want to abide by nature taking its course. Many of us were also privileged enough to stay inside and work from home if we needed to.

Other countries with people having little access to healthcare or adequate disinfectants, etc. do not have these opportunities to protect themselves. Take Brazil for example, that is now third in place for the highest amount of COVID-19 deaths globally. Why should we be surprised? More than 11 million Brazilians live in slums, with residents living in favelas and outskirts of big cities being among the most vulnerable.

These are people who have to work hard for their little pay and are victim to overcrowding in the slums, with lack of income and resources that make social distancing impossible.

It doesn’t help that Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, has denied the deadly pandemic and its effects on the people. Bolsonaro’s government stopped publishing the current daily death toll of COVID-19 in Brazil, to the disadvantage of the people who deserve accurate information.

As far as presidential behavior in the face of COVID-19 goes, America isn’t doing so great either. On May 18, President Trump tweeted “REOPEN OUR COUNTRY!” well before states had even reached the criteria for reopening. How were any of us supposed to take COVID-19 seriously when our own president was willing to put the economy before human lives?

Regardless of whether I or anyone else has seriously felt the effects of COVID-19, it is still very much out there. As of June 9, 2020, the CDC reported 17,376 new cases in the U.S.

Today, 191,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19, and 6.3 million people have tested positive. All of my classes are online and spring doesn’t look any better.

Maybe if serious measures had been put in place this spring to prevent Coronavirus in America like closure of explicitly non-essential businesses, mandatory mask requirements, and better management of social distancing in public areas, our death toll wouldn’t be approaching 200,000 lives claimed. Maybe the pandemic would feel more real and present to me, and to the protestors who considered wearing masks a denial of their rights.