Friday, May 29, 2020

COVID Student Journal: I had a date with my parents and family on Zoom to celebrate Passover.

(Student submission Spring 2020)


Day 1

Dear Journal,

            Today I just arrived home in South Florida after a long, eight-and-a-half-hour drive home. Traffic out of Tallahassee was uncontrolled, treacherous, and frantic. People were speeding, crashing, and desperately trying to evacuate the city in lieu of the news revolving around the coronavirus. The disease began in China, yet, thanks to President Trump’s declaration that the virus poses no threat to Americans, our country has seen a drastic uptick in cases. Tallahassee has yet to have any cases, but as we all know, many of us millennials will ignore the advice of the government and abstain from following the rules of social distancing. My parents are really nervous about the months to come because of their age and their parents’ ages. Apparently weaker immune systems are heavy targets for the virus, so in addition to the elderly, people who have suppressed immune systems are at great risk as well. My sister has Type-2 diabetes, so we are all very fearful of her safety due to her vulnerability towards infection. Schools across the nation, included mine, Tallahassee Community College, have struggled to get a grip on the reality of what the virus truly means for education. Schools and universities have shut down, businesses are struggling to stay afloat, and streets back home are eerily desolate and empty. I have no idea what is to come, but I do not that it cannot be anything good.

 

Day 2

Dear Journal,

            Today is the first full day where I’ve been at a loss of what to do and I am incredibly bored. I do not have homework yet due to the commotion surrounding schools, but our college is working on establishing virtual learning and online classes. Lectures are planned on being on a conference platform called Zoom. Many businesses and schools are using this platform as well, which causes the site to crash often due to its high volume of users. Hopefully people will hop off of the bandwagon and switch to other platforms later on. I’m worried that nothing will really be the same for a very long time. Even Disney World closed, so when that happens, you know something serious is happening. I saw on their site that they plan on reopening in May, but I think that is pretty hopeful given how the disease and current outbreak is in its infancy. It is nice being back home and not waking up at six in the morning every day, but I do miss having things to do. Even when I was in Tallahassee and things started closing down, I still had class for a short while. I do get to play with my dogs and catch up on binging Netflix, though. I guess the plan today is to play basketball with myself. My dad works for the government, so he works from home, but my mom runs a speech therapy practice. Going virtual for her sessions is going to be difficult since her field is extremely hands on. She is very nervous and anxious about the future of her company because she does not want to lose any clients. She is also anxious to beat the virtual curve in her field so she retains as many clients as possible during the pandemic. The news also released new statistics about case counts across the world, and slowly but surely, the United States is catching up to China and Italy. Speaking of Italy, they have a nationwide quarantine in effect, so given the severity of the disease, I do not understand why America has not enacted a similar procedure given that we have the exact same disease in our back yards. People are not taking this seriously and it is starting to really piss me off.

 

Day 3

Dear Journal,

            I got an email today from my school informing me that they are in fact going to implement virtual lectures and convert all classes to be online. My friends from home are telling me that their schools are also following suit, which is pretty incredible if you think about it. The recovery and turnaround rate of converting to be completely online has been very quick, as if schools have not skipped a beat. Now I feel I am going to view school as a daily check-in rather than lecture, and it might take some time to get used to, but it is better than just cancelling the semester altogether. Given the state of the pandemic, I think I will play it safe in the summer and just elect to take online classes, even if students are given the option to physically go back to school. I wanted to go to the grocery store today to get some food, and my parents almost had a heart attack. They thought I was insane to want to go anywhere beyond our front gate, but I guess I must not really feel threatened at the moment by all of this in terms of personally getting sick. However, the grocery store had zero cleaning supplies and no food. Apparently, that is the norm across the country. People are stockpiling toilet paper, towels, cleaning wipes, meats, chicken, fish, and tons of non-perishables. It is quite eerie to walk down empty aisles of a grocery store you grew up with. You are so used to seeing an abundance of food, and now there is virtually nothing to sell. It is nice to not have to work at Smoothie King, but eventually when I return to Tallahassee, I am going to need to earn some kind of income because I have to pay rent and I am broke.

 

Day 4

Dear Journal,

            My mom finally started her official transition to virtual therapy, and she is at an all-time high in anxiety. She is very irritable and frazzled by the virus and the damage it inflicts on not only peoples’ bodies, but their businesses as well. She is using the Zoom platform like everyone else, but her goal is to be up and running by the end of the weekend, so we are all very hopeful she gets that going soon. As for school, there is still no word on when we will start classes again. I get an email every other day talking about how the school will let us know when we are starting back up with virtual lectures, but none of the emails designate a date or how long they anticipate keeping us from our studies. All I have done today is watch television and movies on Netflix since the outside is being portrayed as deadly right now by my folks. I am a bit stir crazy while I sit here doing nothing, but there is only so much a college student can do right now.

 

Day 5

Dear Journal,

            Today I saw on SportsCenter that Rudy Gobert, starting center for the Utah Jazz has contracted COVID-19. With this news, in conjunction with the ever-climbing count of cases in the country, the National Basketball Association has decided to suspend the season. For a while, fans were not even allowed to attend games, but the newfound discovery of Gobert’s diagnosis was the nail in the coffin for the NBA. Additionally, President Trump has flip-flopped again on his word, now deeming coronavirus a nationwide crisis. I could have told anyone that, but apparently the president just found out that this is pretty serious. President Trump is not the only person newly struggling to get onboard with social distancing practices and self-quarantining. A good amount of my fraternity brothers from Florida State are going to the beach, along with a bunch of girls and other families. I guess people are ignoring the fact that Florida is becoming a hot-spot for cases of coronavirus. In fact, Broward County, where I live, now has the most cases of coronavirus in all of Florida and climbing up the charts nationally. I do not understand why people cannot just stay inside.

 

Day 7

Dear Journal,

            I did practically nothing yesterday except for play basketball in the driveway and go to Publix to restock our groceries as best we could. We had better luck this time, and found almost everything we needed. Following the shocking news of an NBA star getting diagnosed with coronavirus, his teammate, Donovan Mitchell, has now also been diagnosed with the virus. This thing is getting out of control. It seems like no one understands that in order to stay safe, you have to self-quarantine. Illinois and New York are now instituting statewide curfews and enforcing social distancing by disciplining anyone grouped with more than nine other people. California is soon to follow suit, but we all know that Florida legislators will get the memo way too late. The federal government has also asked all states to close down what they deem to be “non-essential businesses.” This should have been done a while ago, but I am glad our government is finally doing something to get ahead of this disease. My mom has also finally finished setting up virtual therapy for her patients, and has been informed that she is the first of all speech practices in the state of Florida to accomplish this feat. This bodes well for our family, but nothing is a guarantee with this pandemic. It is still strange seeing people wear masks and gloves in public because it is not customary in our society. However, I feel that one day this might not feel so foreign to see.

 

Day 10

Dear Journal,

            The United States is now over two hundred thousand cases nationwide. It is just so unprecedented how fast this virus is spreading. Everyone is still shocked with how young you can be and still catch it. Granted you must be immuno-suppressed to catch it young, but the fact that people my age and younger can catch it now has a lot of people on alert. I also drove home yesterday and returned to Tallahassee. The city is like a ghost town right now, and hardly any traffic is on the roads and people walking about. My girlfriend Hannah has been worried since my absence that we would not be able to have enough food or cleaning supplies, but I found out from a friend who works at Publix that the store restocks their inventory every day at eight in the morning due to the high demand from people in the area. As long as we wake up early, we will have everything we need at all times. I also found out that classes are finally going to resume. I do not know what to expect, but it should be a smooth transition for the most part.

 

Day 11

Dear Journal,

            I woke up with Hannah to grab groceries for our apartment, and we are all stocked up now on food and cleaning supplies. Unfortunately, we now have a curfew as well in the state of Florida. This means that I pretty much cannot risk late night shopping for snacks at the gas station or staying at a friend’s place for too long at the risk of receiving a fine or jail time. I had a long talk with my parents over the phone today and they believe that since I have been planning to leave my job for a while, what better time than now. They told me if I quit my job, they would help me with groceries and rent as long as we are quarantining. Talk has emerged on the news of a nationwide quarantine, which I think would help kill the huge uptick in cases the past two weeks. I also found out that since I have been gone, there have now been over sixty cases in Leon County reported over Spring Break. It looks like my prediction was right about all of the “spring breakers” bringing the virus back with them. Our apartment does not have much natural light, so it gets pretty dreary, dark, and boring when there is nothing to do.

 

Day 12

Dear Journal,

            Today, Hannah and I began a one thousand-piece puzzle that comes together to make the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones. It should kill a lot of time. My dog and I used to go on extremely long walks, travel to the beach, and get food together. Now, I have to limit how long I am outside. This whole situation is really annoying, but at least school starts next week. Hannah and I have also dug into our large cache of board games to play. There are only so many times one can play Monopoly, so we plan on going to Target and buying more games. We also read and played video games, but other than that, the day has been extremely quiet.

 

Day 13

Dear Journal,

            The shocking news keeps rolling in. Today, ESPN reported that Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints, has been diagnosed with COVID-19. This thing never ends. You would think that with all of that money, the wealthy would be able to stay the safest, but apparently no one is safe from this pandemic. Even though I just got back to Tallahassee, I have been self-quarantining for thirteen days already. I am almost ready to lose my mind. It is incredibly boring, the news only has bad news airing, and there seems to be no progress in defeating this disease. The federal government has finally officially issued a nationwide quarantine and social distancing order as of today, but it is yet to be seen if anyone will really take it seriously. Evidence has shown that it will take longer than it should.

 

Day 17

Dear Journal,

            The days are starting to blend together. I go to bed late and wake up late. It is very hard to get motivated to do anything because there is not really anything to do. I had my first day of virtual lectures the other day and it was neat seeing everyone on the call, but our professor decided that future classes would be more efficient if we mute our microphones on the computer and disable our personal cameras so he can teach without any disruptions. We have to type our questions out and hope he sees our questions, but I will not badger the process until I see how well it works first. The United States is now over three hundred and fifty thousand cases, and we have skyrocketed to the top of the list in terms of most-infected countries, which is quite disturbing. The virus did not even start in America, yet here we are with the most cases of COVID-19 in the world. Quite frankly, it is ridiculous, terrifying, and completely avoidable. It feels like for every person who is adhering to the quarantine and social distancing orders, another five people are doing the exact opposite. Every country that found this disease spreading in their areas enacted lockdowns and quarantines immediately, yet our country lagged behind for over three weeks, and now we are the most infected country in the world.

 

Day 18

Dear Journal,

            COVID-19 is not turning out to be the type of disease people just hear about. The virus is everywhere and takes no preference as to who it infects next. Some of my friends’ family members are now becoming ill due to coronavirus and it is scaring Hannah and I to death. It is one thing to see it reported on the news or as statistics, but at the end of the day, the people who are sick are not just numbers on a page or strangers. These people are now people Hannah or I know, and the pandemic is more real than ever. No amount of television, puzzles, board games, or homework can alleviate the fear of getting sick. It is all anyone talks about, thinks about, or reads about nowadays. Everything I intend on touching, I spray with disinfectant. Every box of snacks or food I intend on eating requires a thorough wipe down with Kleenex wipes. Every breath of air from the outside I take must be filtered through a medical mask. I fear that things might never be the same if we do not come together and hunker down in our homes properly. I just want this nightmare to be over with.

 

Day 19

Dear Journal,

            Today, I had a date with my parents and family on Zoom to celebrate Passover. We all had our Seder plates in view of the camera, and enjoyed wine and conversation through the lens of a camera. I will admit it was pretty weird, but it was nice to feel some sense of normalcy by seeing familiar faces and celebrating a familiar holiday. We all took turns reading out of our Seder books and Hannah got to enjoy her first Jewish holiday with me. I wish it could have been the way we all wanted, congregated around one table as a family, but at least we did not let this disease get in the way of us finally relaxing and having a good time for a night. Passover is two nights, so I will probably spend tomorrow cooking again for tomorrow’s dinner.

Day 21

Dear Journal,

            I have gotten into the flow of having online classes and not leaving the house, but my sentiments about wanting to just go somewhere and do anything other than homework has not subsided. I am officially sick of the quarantine. I watch television until my eyes fall out and read until I get a headache. I sleep long hours and find it difficult to not feel lethargic. I have my last tests and finals approaching in a couple of weeks, so it will be nice to finish another semester. The world is changing, and not for the better. All professional sports have been cancelled, the nation is in panic, legislators are working from their homes, and everyone is afraid of going anywhere. Those who are not afraid are simply ignorant or negligent of others and our needs. The case counts keep rising and rising, and it seems like nothing is being done about it. It is a very scary time for us all, but I know one thing that helps me rest easy. It is that my loved ones and I are practicing all of the right things in order to stay safe. I would give my left arm to not cook all of the time and just go to restaurant. I would pay a ridiculous amount of money to have a permanent house disinfectant so I would not have to spend multiple hours a day cleaning. I would die to just have friends over and hang out. But all of these things for the time being and forseeable future do not exist. What I would give for the end of this terrifying pandemic. What I would give for the end of COVID-19.