The topic I will be discussing for my blog is how my life was impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Let me just say that before the pandemic, in terms of what I did outside of school and work, was not much. So my life currently has not deviated from my usual. I am what society calls a homebody, I do not like to go out unless it is something that I want to do, that I must do or is of utter importance that my physical presence is needed (such as family birthdays. vacations, graduations, etc.). I am not your average 25-year-old, going to parties is not my thing, the most I would do going out is going to a concert, poetry slam or an art gallery. Not knocking who does the latter, it is just not my cup of tea. Other than that, you could find me at home reading, catching up on homework, doing my many self-care routines or watching my favorite shows, movies, and documentaries. Therefore, my life before COVID had not really changed once the pandemic struck around February-March 2020.
The most that changed for me is work and school. Before COVID, I had started a job (which I later found out was a temp job) at a staffing company working events in downtown Indy as a Customer Service Representative. After I would get off work, I would head straight to campus where I would relax around my favorite campus spots until classes started. I found that this was easier on me physically, as it saved a lot of strain and walking on my hips, but this situation was also easier on me financially because my campus was a couple blocks away from the convention center. Once class was over for me that day, I just called an uber or lyft to take me home and that was that! Therefore, for someone who does not drive right now nor have her driver’s license just yet, it saved me money because I did not have to go back and forth from work to home, only to have to get back up, must spend money on another ride (and the fees varied, meaning when it was rush hour, prices surged through the roof), to get to school from home. All of this changed once the pandemic actually started and the cases were starting to reach to a point where it called for concern and intervention from the U.S. government, the CDC, and all of U.S. mayors.
Before I knew it, a nationwide (and global) shutdown was active, and a pandemic was officially declared. The news was on 24/7 in my household, and it seemed that I could not escape it, as someone living with severe anxiety and depression (which also plays a part in my social life), it was difficult (and getting borderline traumatizing) to have to hear about the mortality and infection rates increasing at a rapid rate. It got so bad for me that I checked myself into St. Vincent’s Ascension Stress Center on the Northwest side of Indianapolis due to having a panic attack triggered by my parents nearly every day. So, my home life exactly was not the best and due to social distancing and quarantine, I had no escape. My first escape being school had gone complete virtual/online and campus was shut down to students indefinitely. Doing my homework, projects, and ‘attending’ class just did not feel the same as if I were back in a real classroom receiving the lecture, especially for someone who has such a hands-on major such as myself.
My second escape was work. Working at the convention center was not the best job (temp job, having to get up early, irate individuals), but it had its perks (meeting and befriending new people, networking with many business not just within the U.S., but globally, and the pay was weekly). Therefore, I was devasted when I got the notice that the staffing company would be shutting down indefinitely and all events in Indianapolis were cancelled until further notice. That was a hard pill for me to swallow because that was my first newest job outside of working at my old campus bookstore, so I was excited for something new for a change. Not only that, but I also only worked there for a week, my paycheck reflected this. I was not able to work there long enough to gain enough experience to go pick up another CSR role somewhere else. Nor did I have enough experience put together from all my jobs to try out a work from home role. I did not have a plan b, because I did not expect a pandemic to hit literally right after I got my new job. I was a sitting duck.
In terms of ‘preparedness’, I do not think any of the world was ready for what COVID-19 had in store for us. Speaking on my classmate, Mutia’s presentation, “Handling COVID-19 and the Need for Preparedness”, I was grateful for a fact that I did not live in a huge city like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, or Atlanta. In a case such as this, these cities, mainly neighborhoods that are predominately people of color (POC) or predominately Black, I saw disproportionate cases of not only infection rates, but mortality rates. Especially among the Black community which made this situation even more difficult to navigate. The fact that our government (and other countries) did not take this seriously until the mortality and infection rates were almost in the millions says a lot. As Mutia puts it, “the lack of governance, terrible planning, and healthcare systems that lack the right equipment can cause COVID-19 to ravage even more. Not only will this effect all cities globally, but cities especially in urban areas will be harmed more because of the lack of resources that they are not given” (Urban Anthropology IUPUI 2021). However, this did not mean that it did not take a minute for everyone to follow the CDC/governmental guidelines of social distancing and mask mandating. This pandemic was being taken as a joke and treated ‘as if it were the common flu’. For me, as someone who falls under the category of being ‘at-risk’, disabled and having an ill compromised immune system, it was both frustrating and disrespectful due to the lack of disregard those people had for people like me. It took for business not only putting up signs but refusing service to people who did not want to (or could not) wear a mask.
Even knowing all of this, I know that we are not out of the woods yet, far from it after recalling my classmate, Jackie’s presentation, “A Fourth Coronavirus Surge is Likely”. Rochelle Walensky quotes, “we may be done with the virus, but clearly the virus is not done with us” (UA IUPUI 2021). Knowing the possibility that a fourth COVID surge is possible is very daunting and saddening because this scares me because everyone except for the 1% is left in a freefall of uncertainty. Also, because like many other college students, especially among those graduating, I had plans. Those plans are now on hold until the world resembles at least a fraction of what it once was, just with stricter health implications placed. But even with these in place, many experts are wondering, “is this the beginning of the end?” (UA IUPUI 2021). But I am sure this question barely even scratches the surface of what is to come.
With the vaccines release and people slowly getting on board to receive it, there are people that are still on the fence about it. For example, the Black community has a distrust of medical science (and rightfully so) given its history with the Black community. That and pair the fact that the Black community (amongst other communities of color) live in neighborhoods that resources such as medical, food, transportation, do not reach, which leads to further complications and health inequality. My classmates Andrew, and Kelly’s presentation, “How ‘Vaccine Day’ Could Boost Inoculation” gives helpful information on how ‘Vaccine Day’, a one-time federal holiday that gives people the day off and allowing them to get their vaccinations. Organized by 1Day Sooner, co-founder Josh Morrison quotes, “the main goal is to have a celebration and encourage people to vaccinate beforehand, and to create a positive association for vaccines overall” (UA IUPUI 2021). I know for me; this is something that I did not know about. But now that I do, it does help settle the pit of impending doom that sits like a rock in my stomach daily when I think about not just my future, but the future in general. It reminds me that it is okay to have hope, and that hope keeps the dream alive that everything will be okay, no matter what happens.