Hi everyone. I have just returned to the Bay Area after a week-long trip to LA, and am now safely ensconced in my room, effectively quarantined from the rest of the world.
I am sure that by now, you all have heard of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and how the vicious virus is drastically impacting millions and millions of people around the globe. The world is in a state of mass hysteria. As of today, March 16, 2020, there have been 182,555 reported cases of Covid-19 worldwide, and over 7,000 deaths. Hundreds of thousands more are likely to carry the virus asymptomatically. In many cities, people have been ordered to stay inside their homes to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus. A few days ago, the President Trump declared a national emergency surrounding the pandemic, which has effectively made its way into the States and is spreading at an exponential rate. Drastic public health measures have been taken to halt the spread of the virus. Restaurants, bars, clubs, gyms, and recreation centers have been closed down for the next few weeks. All large group gatherings have been cancelled or postponed. This includes sporting events, competitions, live performances, movies, weddings, parties, graduation commencement ceremonies, and the like. The implications are far-reaching. Employees of companies are now working from home. Small businesses are going bankrupt. Freelance artists and teachers are losing income. People are maniacally storming grocery stores, hoarding food and toilet paper and alcohol (they say the consumption of alcohol will “kill germs”– whether this is true or not remains to be seen). The economy is going into one of the biggest recessions in this country’s history.
As a 22-year-old college graduate, I see many of my college friends being deeply affected by these drastic, but necessary, measures to contain the virus. Most, if not all, American universities have switched their classes to an online format, so students do not have to step foot on campus or cram themselves into a crowded lecture hall. Final examinations, which are taking place this week for many schools on the quarter system, have been completely switched to online. Next quarter/semester’s classes will also be held remotely. Many universities are evicting students from dorms. It is likely that graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020 will be canceled or postponed. Many of my friends, who are college seniors, are mourning the loss of their senior-year experience. For many, this will be their last quarter/semester of college. Never again will they step foot inside an undergraduate lecture hall, or attend office hours, or study in the library. Gone are the days of partying on Thursday nights at the local bars, clubs, or frat houses. There is a large chance that they will not be able to walk the graduation stage– a defining symbol of four years of hard work, toil, growth, achievement, and transition into adulthood. Many friends and classmates have returned to their respective homes, leaving students with little to no time to say goodbye to one another.
Needless to say, it is a difficult time for everyone. The virus does not discriminate. It is a great leveler of classes. Everyone is affected, be it directly or indirectly. The elderly and immunocompromised are our most at risk populations. It is our civic duty to protect both ourselves and those around us from getting sick.
Thus, as I write to you from home on the eve of a three week-long mandatory “shelter-in-place” policy, I am filled with a mixture of emotions. Fear of what is to come. Grief for those who have lost their lives at the hands of the Virus. Confusion as a plethora of information and misinformation inundates social media. Empathy for everyone around me whose lives have turned upside-down. Hope that eventually, things will get better.
As I will have a lot of time on my hands in the coming weeks, I have decided to keep a detailed account of my day-to-day life, thoughts, and sentiments, as we navigate this incredibly scary, confusing, difficult time in human history. Stay tuned for more, and everyone, I implore you– be safe, be smart, and be well.