When I first heard about the coronavirus last month, it had been linked to the likings of the 2011 film, “Contagion.” This deadly virus had been seen as only a mere, distant problem in China and Europe. Then like a roaring wildfire, the virus had spread causing a pandemic. In almost an instant the people of America caught it. Posts rapidly hit social media of empty shelves and people wearing masks. Schools started closing and travel restrictions were being put in place. Suddenly, as of March 16, my place of education as well as others, had announced an immediate shut down. The faculty had told us to hurriedly pack, alert family, and evacuate as soon as possible. By doing so, they caused a sea of mixed emotions and rumors to swell amongst the entire student body. I quickly called my family and rushed to pack my things. feelings of nervousness and anger came over me. Just minutes prior, we were informed that no one would be permitted to stay on campus. Some of my fellow classmates and friends were getting pushed out into the unknown. The majority of these students don’t have family coming for them and few have no home to go to or even someone they can call. I am disheartened and frustrated for them. I am safe and secure with my family, but what about those who aren’t? Students whose only home is on campus? According to a few friends, the day after my school’s unprecedented evacuation, they had started to kick remaining students out as soon as 9 AM. Where will they go?
The governor, mayor, and Los Angeles school board have stepped in to make sure students have food, but this still does not solve the aforementioned problem. They have opened, “grab and go” pick up centers. These strategic locations provide two meals per day, per student in grades K-12. There are also some resources for college/vocational students. Many community outreach food distribution programs are located throughout the area, and there are also local food pantries, which due to social distancing, now have a drive through. These community organizations need our help. They are looking for healthy, 18-30 year olds to help bag food for those in need. These organizations provide gloves, googles, masks, and work in short shifts, in small groups; to minimize risk.
In addition to this are my multitude of concerns about America’s recent self quarantine. What about our economy, jobs, education, struggling families, and the current shortage of toilet paper? There are so many layers to the economy, and it is an election year. At the moment, myself, as well as others, will remain furloughed from jobs. My current training is vital for my future, and for now it has been put on hold. Like the rest of my country, I am also concerned for my family. I cry at the thought of them suffering from COVID-19. My mother, aunt, and uncle are older and thus in the high risk group. Two of my sisters have severe asthma, and any illnesses they have had in the past were difficult to recover from. All of my family may have health care coverage through their employment or retirement, but what about the citizens or even non-citizens without coverage or MediCal?
Your neighborhood is where you should feel safe and secure. During these trying times, I believe the news and media can add onto the public’s panic. Yes, it is essential to be informed of current events and know the weather, but with the rapid advancements in technology such information is always at our fingertips – just a few clicks away. Our devices nowadays are permanently attached to us. As a society amidst a pandemic, we should be taking time during this shelter in place to turn off our phones for a minute and stop hoarding essential goods. Possibly read a book, maybe even solve a crossword or two, finish that one project – you have the time. Then come back to reality, turn on our phones, and get back to our life if we can. Perhaps we will all feel a bit calmer amidst the panic if we tried this.
Jordan Flynn is a trade student at Los Angeles Job Corps and a member of Young Invincibles’ Young Advocates Program.