As you are soon turning nineteen it makes me think of when I was nineteen and I tend to focus on the last half and Covid-19. It makes me think of all the changes, and how as you were born in the middle of it, you won’t share the experiences the rest of the cousins have, of staying at home, zoom calls, and the never-ending news reports. I also think of all of the changes that happened following the outbreaks. How things that are common place now weren’t when I grew up. My first thought is of handwashing. A simple act to ensure cleanliness and sanitation. You would think through all of the human evolutions this would be a simple act that everyone did to keep clean but it wasn’t. There were suddenly so many tweets and posts from people now learning the consequences of not washing their hands. For some, twenty seconds was too long, for others, scrubbing your nails or between your fingers was too complicated. Nowadays, the signs in bathrooms about washing your hands actually mean something, they are relics in the past that helped to keep the human population going. I also come to think of the changes in greetings and departures, handshakes for instance. The handshake seemed so natural that I rarely thought of it. But it was an easy way to transfer germs with direct contact, especially as neither party would wash their hands before or afterwards. I remember when Dr. Fauci, the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had a press announcement and talked about the end of handshakes. It was a drastic announcement that really relayed the direness of the virus.
As these changes came I always compared this virus to the impacts of the industrial revolution and what I learned in school. These changes that were made make sense now, it almost seems crazy that we were living in a way, most of us never paying attention to the dangers around us. Similar to the idea of safety precautions, “living” wages, and changes to working hours seem like the most obvious, but weren’t until protests and dangerous conditions were rising.
Besides the moves to create a safer, healthier world, there were some other positive changes being made. In my own house everyone was more understanding. Being stuck around each other for weeks on end wasn’t ideal. It was a stressful situation and sometimes we would react to it, but others in the house didn’t respond by yelling back. We had more empathy and patience for others. This was seen around the community. Other people were being recognized for the work they put in. Healthcare workers for the long and dangerous shifts they put in. Teachers, for focusing on the needs of their students, and with little notice adapting their classrooms for student’s online use. And essential workers, like those working in supermarkets or gas stations, who were putting their health at risk. Suddenly, the people who weren’t receiving recognition, and who were deemed as less important were the people who were preventing our world from a complete standstill.
There were definitely a lot of frustrations. Like seeing the pandemic handled poorly, seeing the videos of people protesting social distancing in my own state, by people who don’t believe in the threat or don’t care for the ramifications they present to others. But eventually we were able to find a new normalcy and return to school and work a lot more safely.