On Wednesday, Mar. 10, I sat in my newspaper class, whispering nervously amongst my peers about the Coronavirus cases in our county. Simultaneously, the board was meeting to decide what measures were necessary to protect the community. We were just gossiping when we talked about whether the board had decided to close schools. We did not really believe anything would happen. I went through the rest of my day as normal. I hung out with my friends during class, laughing and enjoying my day. I saw my boyfriend after school. I went home, hung out with my siblings, and did my calc homework.
And then we got the call that school was cancelled for the next few days.
Initially, I was optimistic. The school was just preparing for the worst. That was a good thing. That was necessary. I thought for sure that they would not close. This was all so unprecedented. It felt like it could never actually close down.
It is now six days later, and America has changed completely. International travel is suspended, the stock market is plummeting (experiencing the worst losses in recent history), restaurants/bars are closing, colleges have cancelled classes, people are being instructed to not leave their houses.
“We will see more cases and things will get worse than they are right now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a testimony before the House of Representatives. “How much worse we’ll get will depend on our ability to do two things, to contain the influx of people who are infected coming from the outside, and the ability to contain and mitigate within our own country. Bottom line, it’s going to get worse.”
Today, I realize that this is more than just an annoyance and a reason to close school. This is an emergency. This is a pandemic. This outbreak will shape the future of America.
I am going to admit that I am sad about the school closures. I am nervous with the current lack of clarity in the situation. I hate that I will no longer share lunches with my friends or see people in the hallways. I miss being in all of my clubs and classes. I do not like being unsure of the fate of senior events such as prom or commencements. And I know that many other seniors feel the same way as I do.
So here is my PSA to my fellow students:
I have always been a very politically active person and very aware of current events. However, I know that these things do not interest most of my friends/peers, so I thought it pertinent to list a few of the quotes that helped me understand the veracity and extent of this pandemic.
“Fatality is the wrong yardstick. Catching the virus can mess up your health in many, many more ways than just straight-up killing you…How about needing four months of physical therapy before you even feel human again. Or getting scar tissue in your lungs and having your activity level restricted for the rest of your life…” This was written by an anonymous female doctor in Italy and published in “Newsweek.” This showed me how this virus can impact us. I kept hearing things at school such as “We won’t die. The mortality rate for our age range is only .1 percent.” This virus goes beyond all of that. We can be gravely affected by this as well. We are not immune from harsh effects simply because we are young.
“The S&P 500 fell 12 percent, its biggest drop since the coronavirus outbreak began to roil markets in the United States last month — and its worst daily decline since October 1987, when stocks plunged about 20 percent in what came to be known as Black Monday. For the technology heavy Nasdaq, the drop was its worst on record.” This is an excerpt from a “New York Times” stock update on March 16th. The economy is tanking, and this is something that needs to be taken seriously. Since the beginning of the Coronavirus epidemic, the DOW has fallen about 30 percent according to the “Wall Street Journal,” meaning that Americans are losing almost one third of their earnings and savings invested in the market.
“But these high numbers mean doctors must choose more often, and more quickly, who deserves a greater chance of survival…Italian doctors say that so many elderly COVID-19 patients are showing up with breathing problems, they can’t take a chance on those who have a slim hope of recovery.” This quote was taken from a “Reuters” article about the crisis in Italy where doctors are having to choose between patients. The COVID-19 pandemic is not something to joke about. I have heard a lot of jokes about getting days off from school or jokes made about “the Rona.” Older patients are not even getting treatment because it is assumed that they will not live, and thus, the hospitals should direct their resources to someone with a better chance of survival. This is sobering information, and really makes you think about all of the people in your life and what would happen if they contracted the virus.
Overall, my life has changed drastically as a result of this pandemic, but as much as we have seen of these cases in Michigan (or even the US), we have not been exposed to the real tragedies that result from COVID-19. I never thought that we would get to this point, but we are here. And the very best thing that everyone can do is be aware. Be aware of the reality of this virus. Be aware of how your actions impact others. Be aware of where the cases are and what measures are necessary to avoid the spread of the disease. Be aware of the facts and do not get caught up in hysteria. Read the news. Keep informed. Do your part as a citizen and as a human to help curb this virus.