My name is Thomas B., and I am 29 years old. I currently live in Phoenix, AZ with my fiancé. I am a copy editor for a retirement company.
I never thought that the pandemic would get as bad as it did or last this long. I, like many others, am guilty of saying that Coronavirus was no deadlier than the flu. However, at the time of this writing (July 26, 2020), there are currently 160,041 confirmed cases in Arizona, and 3,286 deaths . Nationwide, there are 4,099,310 cases and 145,013 deaths Worldwide, there are 15,745,102 cases and 639,317 deaths. As soon as our stay at home order expired in May, many argued for a second stay at home order, but another lockdown, with people in isolation for months on end isn't a good idea either- humans need to interact with other humans, and I don't mean over Zoom.
As an example, my single (and very introverted) coworker hasn't left her house since we started working from home in March and has very few friends and family she talked to prior to this. In other words, she’s had no physical interaction with anyone and hasn't left her house for the past 4 months.
Her mental health is currently....not good, to say the least.
In other news, the contentious issue here is the quickly approaching school year. Some argue to allow schools to reopen. They argue that kids (especially elementary school students) want and need to be around their friends. However, if the schools did reopen, this is where the CDC guidelines would come into play- which many (including myself) believe are impractical. These guidelines would dictate that all desks would be spaced six feet apart, and all students and teachers would need to wear masks. There would be no communal areas (playgrounds, cafeterias, etc) and all classrooms would need to be sanitized in between classes. Students would have to sit at their desks for lunch with plastic dividers in between them.
In other words, teachers would have to tell a kindergartner that they could not share a toy, or could not hug their friend that they had not seen in months, or could not play on the playground during recess, and would have to keep their mask on during the entire day.
So what’s the alternative? Some have argued to keep schools closed during the entire fall semester. This would guarantee safety, but it would pose a whole different set of issues. If schools did not reopen for the fall, the “digital divide” along with the “COVID slide” would exacerbate. Cases of anxiety, depression, domestic violence, etc, would worsen.
My fiancé’s school is doing what I think should be done. They are allowing parents to choose whether or not they feel comfortable sending their students back to school or keeping them virtual. Her school has also made clear that if needed, the school would return to 100% online, which could happen literally overnight.
While not a perfect solution, it’s the best we’ve got. If anything, this pandemic has allowed me to realize that we are living through history. I was a history major in college, and if anyone had told me that there would be a global pandemic in 2020, I would have laughed at them. But, things that would have been unheard of months ago are now the norm: your house is now your office (and vice versa), wearing (or not wearing) a surgical mask in public has become a political statement, and toilet paper is worth its weight in gold.
For the older members of my millennial generation, they can remember the second that they learned about the 9/11 attacks. However, many younger millennials, including myself (I was born in 1991), were too young to remember those events.
On the other hand, this is an event in which I will be able to remember it vividly, and one that my future children and my future grandchildren will ask me about. In fact, I can already picture them asking me in the same way that I asked my grandpa, except instead of asking “Grandpa, what did you do in the war?”, they will ask me: “Grandpa, did people really panic buy toilet paper?” My generation is very familiar with the phrase “pre-9/11” and “post-9/11” and its larger social implications. I firmly believe that we will be referring to Coronavirus in the same way. There will be a “new normal”- but what will it look like?