There is a lot – too much – to think about during the liminal space that is COVID-19 in 2020. Ninety days ago, it seemed that the coronavirus was just another New York Times push notification, one about a tragedy thousands of miles away and one that barely registered as elevator talk here at home. Now halfway through March, what was once an episodic, largely uneventful life has transformed into a very weird timeline. Some are stressed and overwhelmed as they’re receiving dramatic changes to their work life literally overnight. Others are somewhat embracing doing homework in pajamas and uncombed hair (though by Day 15, even that joy is running out of steam). Many Americans, however, are just confused – how did the coronavirus become a devastating pandemic sickening thousands in all 50 states?
Here in Colorado, we seem to be living in a timeline of our own. Virtually every university has transitioned to remote learning. Never has it been easier to drive downtown on the I-25 highway in fifteen minutes at eight in the morning. In one day, I’ve had eight Zoom conferences, one after the other – from picking up where we left off five days ago in Applied Graph Theory, to somehow coordinating between five school group projects, to finishing an online quiz – and it never seems to end.
Needless to say, I’ve kept myself busy, which also means I’ve kept myself distracted. Because if I’m not doing my data mining homework, or studying for two quizzes, or writing this blog post, then I’m left thinking about why we’ve found ourselves in this position. Maybe I’m thinking about how little was done to address the numerous exercises conducted by the U.S. government that revealed to people in charge that our country was ill-equipped for a pandemic, or that capitalism is literally so flawed that it takes a pandemic to realize that CEOs and billionaires are not what hold this country together, but instead the working people that work in our Costcos and treat our infected, or that the Trump administration literally dismantled the team in charge of pandemic responses and STILL DEFENDED THE DECISION when confronted, or that I was lucky enough to lock myself indoors before the reported number of infected Coloradans doubled in a day, or that I really, really want to drive around with my friends and hang out at the one Starbucks that I go to everyday after school where my friend works, and I’m also waiting to hear back from this one thing I applied to in February and I have no idea if this will affe-
Clearly, you can understand why it’s just better for me to buckle down and focus. And I’m not writing this to stress you out. But I also don’t want to ignore the fact that this is what it probably sounds like inside many of our heads. And that’s okay. The most important thing to remember is to stay as calm as possible. Well, that, and follow the tips you’ve probably seen on fifty other sites. Wash your hands for twenty seconds (yes, the sing-happy-birthday-twice routine). Get your news from reliable newspapers (I’m partial to the New York Times and the Denver Post myself), but check in with the CDC and your state’s public health department too.
Seriously, don’t be racist.
Stay in touch with those you love – social distancing does not have to mean social isolation. And if you are infected, or think you are, the CDC offers easy-to-understand guidelines. Young Invincibles has also compiled an exhaustive list of resources for Coloradans that address a variety of issues, from food security and economic hardship to social distancing and what that can mean for you. And if you ever need us, we’re a click away.
Also. Don’t panic buy toilet paper. Seriously, don’t. I mean, get enough to last a bit, but don’t buy out Costco. We should not forget community and family in times like these, and hoarding all the toilet paper so no one else can have any is an act that represents anything but community. We are stronger together.
But seriously. It’s going to be okay. The times are overwhelming for a myriad of reasons, and it might seem like some of the steps we’ve taken seem a bit dramatic. However, I would raise that while this may not be public health at its finest (at least in this country), this is public health at work. Colorado’s West Grand Superintendent Darrin Peppard arguably said it best: “In the end, it will be impossible to know if we overreacted or did too much, but it will be quite apparent if we under reacted or did too little.”
D.V. is from Denver and a member of Young Invincibles’ Young Advocates Program.