Thursday, May 28, 2020

COVID Student Journal: If you are reading this in the future, I hope times are a lot simpler than they are now

(Student submission Spring 2020)

February of 2020 was just about as normal as could be besides the fact the Kobe Bryant tragically passed away weeks prior. However, I can’t say the same for the month of March. March 2020 started out with numerous memes on the internet of the so called “Corona Virus”. At the time we didn’t really think much of it, we usually just joked about why some idiot ate a bat. As the March days slowly passed, we realized we could be in for a serious problem. The Corona Virus death toll in China was on a rapid climb and started spreading like a wildfire throughout other countries.

The president, Donald Trump joked about the Corona Virus before it started to affect people the way it did because even a large public figure like himself never in a million years thought this would happen. As the situation worsened governors started scrambling to find out ways to keep us citizens safe and as for the president, let’s just say he ate his words. As the cases hit the U.S, hospital beds filled up very fast. We were at a point where there were no more beds or rooms available for patients. Ventilators were in high demand and supply was becoming scare. Doctors started wearing a mask and getting checked for the Virus before they could go into work. 

By mid-March we had people contemplating wearing mask and gloves themselves as a safety precaution. The seriousness of the Virus was increasing as were the rules that came along with it. Every state had rules in place that were different. However, the main rule that every state followed was social distancing and the curfew. 

The curfew was whack, it was a motion they put in place for citizens to be home at a certain time every night. If you got caught violating the stay at home order, then you could face a fine or even receive jail time. As all these new cases were being confirmed in a variety of states the governors wouldn’t allow certain patients to get tested because of the low supply of the test they had. The president declared a national emergency and gave the “Corona Virus” a new name. Covid-19 was the new official name of this horrible virus. As we reached record numbers in cases the states started shutting down schools and restaurants. This meant that all your classes were now online, and the reality began to set in for many Americans. As for restaurant owners they could carry on, however they could only get to-go orders. This affected numerous small business owners as well. If you weren’t an “essential” business, then you weren’t supposed to be open.

Gas prices did go down; however, you weren’t supposed to travel.  The state of Florida at one point shut down its borders. There were check points on Interstate 95 and Interstate 75. If you didn’t have a valid Florida driver’s license, you could not enter the state. Of course, you could still use the back roads to get in. Cruise ships were full of passengers and made to stay at sea. No passengers were allowed to disembark. The virus spread like wildfire on the ships. United States citizens were stuck overseas on ships with no way to get home.

Airlines decreased the price of air fare, and then limited the amount of flights they were flying. Trump put bans on air travel to China. As the virus spread, other countries started preventing flights from coming into their countries. Trump followed suit and would not allow any travel to foreign counties, nor would he allow any foreigners into the United States.

With travel by ship and plane restricted, buses were next. Greyhound went to a reduced schedule in which they only traveled to a certain list of cities. Eventually, everything was grounded. There was no travel due to the “shelter in place”.

As we began the “shelter in place” in mid-March, we started living a life that was completely new to us. I was used to jumping in the car and going wherever I wanted, when I wanted. Now I was restricted to staying at home and only leaving the house to go to the doctors or to get groceries. Eventually that became a huge ordeal too.

As I ventured out of the house to go to the grocery store, the streets were strangely bare. Where there use to be complete traffic jams, now there was no one. I would pass maybe a few cars on the road. I no longer had to factor traffic into my travel time. There was no one walking their dogs, jogging, or outside. No one was mowing their lawn, or landscaping. No one was doing anything! Upon entering the grocery stores, people were wearing masks, some made of bras, and gloves. The shelves were bare, it was unlike anything I had ever seen. There was absolutely no toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, bleach, hand sanitizer or Lysol to be found. I mean none! The canned goods isles were picked over. Bread was scarce and hamburger meat was like gold. People were hording anything they could find. If you were not at the store the day a truck came in, you basically ate what you could find. I sure made some mismatched meals. During hurricanes, you can expect the stores to be out of certain items, this was unreal. Stores were out of everything. I had to go to four different stores to find toilet paper, and then all I found was one ply. Let me tell you, I felt like a king when I did find two ply again. I was in the right place at the right time. I was at Dollar General and they had just two packs left. 

With the stores running out of food and supplies, they started placing quantity limits on items. Then the virus got worse and stores had more restrictions. They were only allowed to have so many customers in the stores per square foot. Walmart and Sam’s had buggies lined up to create a pathway into the store. They had employees at the doors counting the people entering. Once they reached a certain amount, customers had to stand in line outside, 6 feet apart. On the insides of the stores, they would have every other register open and put markers on the floor 6 feet apart. Notes were on doors and in the isles reminding customers to “social distance” and stay 6 feet apart. Some stores made their isles one way to help promote “social distancing”. Towards the end of April, most stores were opened for the first hour for elderly customers, as they were more susceptible to the disease. Stores were sanitizing their carts with bleach and wiping them down in between customers. Walking through the parking lots or into these stores reminded me of a zombie apocalypse.

Schools were temporarily closed in mid-March so that they could deep clean the campuses. As the virus continued to spread rapidly, schools started closing their campuses. Eventually, schools went to virtual learning, Schools were lending chrome books and providing paper packets for those students without internet access. However, internet provider businesses were offering free internet during this pandemic. Most schools were ill prepared to go to virtual learning and by mid-April announced their school year was over. Others, like colleges continued with all campuses being closed and dorm rooms emptied. 

At the blink of an eye, students were being sent home without all of their belongings. I live in an apartment, so I didn’t experience this firsthand. I have friends that went back home and only now can get back in with tight restrictions to get their belongings. Some college campuses are not reopening for the rest of the 2020. There haven’t been any graduation ceremonies. High schools closed leaving millions of seniors without the memories of prom, senor skip day or graduation. My hometown just announced they would hold prom in July and graduation in August for those interested in attending, August is when they should be already be moved and getting prepared to start college. School athletes missed out on their senior seasons. Those memories can never be replaced.

It seemed like the entire world of sports shut down. Never would I have imagined no Nascar races. MLB canceled games, the PGA tour was pushed back, and spring football training was postponed. Imagine the NFL draft was virtual. The only sports on television were reruns. Not only could we not personally play any sports, we couldn’t watch them either.

A lot of people lost their life during this pandemic. Every one’s life has been affected in some form. If you are reading this in the future, I hope times are a lot simpler than they are now.