Hope in COVID-19

By Rishima Mall

150,000 infected, 7000 dead. Schools, businesses, cities and countries shut down, events cancelled, and governments worldwide in crisis mode (Story maps 2020). But what exactly is the COVID-19, what makes it so dangerous, what gives it the power to strike fear in humanity and change human habit itself?

The Coronavirus is a viral respiratory illness that can cause symptoms of fever, headache and diarrhea and in severe cases may lead to pneumonia in vulnerable populations. Our fear of the Coronavirus is almost as great a threat as COVID-19 itself. As the number of Coronavirus cases continues to rise, so too does the impact on daily life around the world. The fear of the virus has a pervasive influence over our lives. We fear the new and unknown quality of the threat and the uncertainty associated with it, rather than the virus itself. Stockpiling of non-essentials like masks, toilet paper, groceries, bread, sanitizers is evident as empty shelves at grocery stores look like it's Black Friday all over again… without the discounts.

Unfortunately, many supplies such as toilet paper and face masks hoarded by the public have barely any preventive effects on the Coronavirus, and these supplies are actually needed by health officials to safely perform their work.

Restaurants, theaters, tourist venues - all shut down on an international level. And what “March Madness” or anything else for that matter? The most magical place on Earth too has forced Mickey to a forced sabbatical.

Stock markets, the Federal Reserve rates…the lowest they have been; and the White House and Congress’ actions till now not providing an adequate sense of relief to those hit hardest by the virus falling short of what is needed to reassure the public in this era of fear. Mandatory quarantines, social isolation, and empty parking lots have become characteristic of the crisis we are living through.

The world has come to realize more than ever the importance of the internet. Virtual schools will be the new norm as schools continue to shut down. Furthermore, people are being asked to work from home, and businesses are increasingly moving online. High-speed internet, portable computers and our improved technology make it possible for millions of Americans to work from home.

The Coronavirus will test the capabilities of the Internet age and our 21st Century technology to its full extent in the coming weeks; this may be an event with the potential to transform our entire society as we know it. Can our current technology support our jobs and our economy and could this be the beginning of a never-before seen future archetype?

The Coronavirus pandemic will most certainly be a defining moment of my sophomore year in high school. Our own school, along with thousands of others in the United States has been shut down due to the Coronavirus. The cheers were so loud, that our school administrators could hear them from their office, and had to wait for an entire minute for it to settle down before they could proceed with the announcement! Although the students were ecstatic with the turn of events, I must also empathize with my school teachers and administrators who had to set up cyber school, and also with seniors who have graduation on their mind. So, it shall be school minus the human interaction, and minus waking up at 5am in the morning to catch the bus.

But, what about some other considerations due to such school closures, like caring for young students whose parents have to go to work? Its impact on student academics, and economic situations of struggling families? These are challenging times but we are stronger than anything that has come our way through millennia. And we can already see the world coming together.

Notably, U-Haul currently offers free storage for students who have been asked to vacate dorms. They have stepped forward in this time of crises by providing aid to college students who are most impacted by the Coronavirus. This is the first time U-Haul has ever extended a 30-day free self-storage offer nation-wide. Scholastic now offers free educational resources including day-by-day projects, and active learning journeys for up to 20 days for teachers and students to conduct online learning even when they are unable to attend school.

Comcast provides upgraded service on its Internet Essentials package as well as two months free for all new customers, especially helping connect more low-income families to the Internet so everybody could stay virtually connected and work from home. Major software firms offer free use of their collaboration tools as more folks self-quarantine to outlast the virus outbreak as the demand for video and chat software continues to increase.

A person on their phone

According to the New York Times, food delivery companies now offer a 'No-Contact' option for pizza to any available food choices to limit the spread of Coronavirus, thus leading the change in food culture and redefining food delivery. Major businesses, including national retailers to chain restaurants, have reevaluated their company policies to help protect hourly workers. Paid sick leave and other common-sense benefits for hourly workers have been updated in an effort to promote financial security in these uncertain times .

However, there’s a dark side to all of these good intentions. The need for vigilance cannot be more emphasized during these times as people get desperate and greedy. We see the best and the worst that our society has to offer in times of crises. An increased presence of online interactions presents a treasure trove to malicious hackers. It is not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’ we forget to follow simple precautions to keep our online selves safe. It is essential to keep our anti-virus software (Windows comes with an inbuilt free one, or check out additional options at PC Mag) as well as all other devices' software up to date. Cross-check everything you read online and download software after checking several sources to validate its authenticity.

With so much additional pressure on our utilities, it may be also prudent to manage our power and internet usage and use only what is necessary. Keep in mind, while we are at home, there are people who are having to head out there and be at work to ensure we remain comfortable and connected.

The Coronavirus pandemic will most certainly leave an imprint on our 21st Century society be it economic, or health wise. The entire world has united behind a sole purpose of combating this pandemic that has already taken so many lives. The COVID-2019 will be a defining moment in our lives and our futures, but it should not define our lives. Let this be the moment that allows humankind to reset and re-calibrate and be the best that we were always supposed to be.