(Student submission Spring 2020)
March 11, 2020, I got an email from my school that we were extending spring break for an extra two weeks. Now I know that sounds great, but the reason behind it isn’t. The very first case of COVID-19 in the US was reported in Washington but no one expected it to have such the impact that it did thanks to our trustworthy president who said everything was under control. Just a couple days after the email to extend spring break, we got the email that the remainder of the semester was going to be held online. Not to mention, back home there is no wifi for me to complete my assigned work so I was completely unprepared. At this point, I was super annoyed because this has been the best semester I ever had up until then. Not only were schools closing, but restaurants, beaches, shopping outlets, nail salons, etc. This whole experience is just scary and eye opening.
March 14, 2020, my first day back home in Miami. At this time, we were still expected to be back on campus after three weeks. Things were still pretty normal. That same day, I went with my family to Bahama Breeze to celebrate my mom’s 45th birthday. When we went, we brought Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer to make sure everything was properly cleaned before sitting. We also asked for plastic utensils to eat with. Although we were going through a pandemic, we still wanted to enjoy ourselves while we could. The next day, we went and did a family photoshoot. After the March 15, 2020, the city slowly began shutting down. The number of cases for Miami and Broward were sky rocketing because schools from all over the country was coming down to Miami to celebrate their spring break with no regards to the people who actually lived there. I was happy when they finally decided to close the beaches because everyone was being so stubborn and using conspiracy theories as excuses not to take this thing seriously. Stores are being shut down for not following the CDC guidelines and millions of people are out of work and filing for unemployment.
Both my mom and twin brother have sickle cell so for them to catch COVID-19 could be much more dangerous than any of the rest of us in the house getting it. But one of us getting it puts them at a higher risk. It’s so nerve wrecking whenever my mom leaves for work because although she takes every precaution possible, there are people out there that are careless. She’s an essential worker so she has to go to work. In order for her to take paid time off, she has to use her vacation time which she doesn’t have because she’s frequently in and out of the hospital due to her sickle cell. My source of income usually comes from my doing hair out of my home but I stopped because I didn’t want to be the reason anyone in my home got sick and some of my clients aren’t understanding about it but that don’t matter to me.
March 21, 2020 came around and it was my sister’s birthday. She was finally turning 21 but there was no way we were going anywhere to celebrate. Luckily I’m a hair stylist and was able to do her hair. We went over to my friend’s house where we met up with two of our other longtime friends and just celebrated with us five. We ate and played basketball in her back yard and everything in between. The next day it was my dad’s birthday. It was just like any other day in quarantine. I brought him his favorite cake from Publix but that’s about it.
March 25, 2020, give or take a day, my twin’s breathing was bothering him. I began to panic because it’s one of the symptoms for COVID-19. As we were getting ready to leave for the hospital, they told me that the hospitals weren’t taking any extra guest, only the patient can enter. Which is understandable but I wasn’t used to not being able to be there with him. I literally wanted to cry. When we pulled up to the hospital, there was a big tent next the entrance. My brother was told that’s where they were keeping some of the COVID-19 patients. Me and my mom waited for my brother to come out and when he did he told us that they checked him for a fever, he didn’t have one. They recommended that he didn’t stay because of the sick patients that come through every day, he would be at a higher risk of catching it. They gave him some meds and sent him home. I was so nervous but I kept praying instead of worrying.
We would have hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes, and disinfecting spray right at our front door so any time someone came from outside or anywhere, they’d have to clean up first. I tried patrolling company as much as I could but I’m the youngest in a huge family so my voice doesn’t carry much weight. A couple days later, my mom complained of a sore throat (also a symptom). Once again, I got nervous. A million and one thoughts immediately raced through my head. I had already forced everyone to frequently take medicine as soon as I heard even the slightest sniffle so what is it that she might be catching? The very next day when it was time for her to go to sleep, she had a really bad headache that she tried to ignore. I was sitting on the side of her bed when I heard her sniffling. I look over to see tears rolling down her face. She tried to hide the fact that the headache brought her to tears. I remember previously reading a Twitter thread that a young girl posted about her experience with COVID-19. In the thread, she said that her throat first began hurting really bad then what followed was a throbbing headache. My twin came into the room and suggested that she go to the hospital so she did. They told her the same thing they told my brother, gave her some meds, and sent her home.
The night before it was time for me and my sister to leave Miami and come back to our apartment in Tallahassee, my twin brother caught a sickle cell crisis. We took him to the hospital and waited hours in the car for him to come back out. At first he didn’t want to go because he knew what was at risk but at some point the pain became unbearable to where he felt he didn’t have a choice.
April 5, 2020, me and my sister returned to Tallahassee. We don’t own a car but luckily one of our brothers longtime friends was driving but up to get his things from his dorm so we rode with him. My cousin gave us some money to go grocery shopping when we came back up here. There were much fewer cases in Leon county than there was in both Miami-Dade and Broward county, but when we got to Walmart we could barely find anything. We don’t eat meat so it challenging enough to find food that we’d actually eat. We came prepared with the masks and gloves but as we were walking around, there wasn’t much people doing the same. A lot of people acted oblivious to the whole pandemic. I was afraid to touch anything, even with my gloves on. I did feel much better about not being in Miami with my mom and brother because I kept fearing that I would unknowingly be a carrier and pass it to them. So my heart was a little at ease but I was definitely still on my toes. After grabbing what we could salvage from the little Walmart did have, we headed home. We put up the few groceries, wiped everything down with disinfecting wipes and spray and hopped straight in the shower.
As I mentioned earlier, lots of people are now out of work, including me and my sister. She worked on campus at FSU and I did hair out of our home to pay the bills and buy groceries. We also didn’t qualify for the stimulus checks of $1,200 that was sent out to almost everyone because we’re dependents under our mom and also too old for her to receive any sort of monetary advance for us. Now we have absolutely no idea how we’re paying this month’s rent, the light bill, the Wi-Fi bill, or groceries when we run out again. Since we’ve been back it’s been super hard to get clients because either people don’t have the money to book my services or they’re too scared to catch something which is totally understandable.
All while going through this very weird and difficult time, some of my professors acted as if everything was normal and this pandemic isn’t negatively affecting no one. I was already behind from not being able to turn work in while in Miami with my family, but these classes wouldn’t slow down. Only my history class which I am super grateful to have had.
Today is May 2, 2020, it’s 2:45am. I’m sitting up trying to finish this semester off strong, wondering when president Trump is going to get on track with the rest of the world and fix the problem instead of throwing money in our face. Case numbers has passed 1 million in the US and is still rising, yet governors all over the country are re-opening states, restaurants, beaches and everything else. There is no hope for this country.