So what’s it like for you in America? I am asked by people in other countries. And truly I can only speak for myself. Experiences are personal, but suddenly human beings are having the same or similar experiences across the globe. It is as if someone has pushed the pause button on ‘normal life’. In my state we have been told to ‘shelter in place’ meaning we are to only go out if absolutely necessary to buy groceries or get medication. There is a curfew from 6:00 AM until 9:00 PM.
Some feel the need to exercise and dogs have found that they are being walked by everyone in the family, so much so that cartoons of reluctant dogs hiding from owners and pleading to be left alone have sprung up. Isolation for people that live on their own is a fact of life in the US. For those that are able bodied a trip to the pharmacy or the supermarket for years may have been their only point of contact with another human being, the chance to smile with someone as you muttered perfunctory small talk about the weather. That is gone. For those fortunate enough to be able to afford home deliveries, the convenience of having your weekly shopping delivered may seem priceless. The masked stranger that rings your doorbell has become your lifeline.
We have woken up to find that the bogey man of childhood and horror stories is real. It is invisible, we don’t know where it is, when it is around or when it may stop by. What we do know are the horror stories of people saying they felt that they were drowning as their lungs filled up with fluid. That the virus tells you to lie down, and lulls you into thinking that you feel better when you are in bed, and this is a lie. To feel better we have learned you have to fight the urge to lie down. You have to fight through the pain and the need to lie down, you have to get up. You have to fight the fever and the chills and everything that Corona throws at you to wear you down.
The figure of people dying are chilling. Yesterday over 2,000 in one day. But people still moan about social distancing and having to wear masks but the alternatives are devastating. The fact that you can be asymptomatic and spread this disease is one of the things that makes it so successful. Yes Covid19 is outstandingly successful, it hides and multiples before people realize it has visited and left its calling card.
To make something less frightening we give it a name, we write songs of bravado about vanquishing this foe. We long for a dragon fighting hero to arise and slay this beast. But we are being told that we are the heroes and to slay this dragon we have to fight it with social distancing with staying home. As we do this our radio and televisions tell us that economies are crumbling. The Dow Jones plunges and rises daily. Unemployment figures skyrocket, lines at food pantries rise exponentially along with the panic buying of toilet paper, yeast and now hair dye. Daily television shows are streaming from the homes of anchors and their pets and children dive into view of computer screens.
Across America millions of parents grappling with Google Classrooms are literally tearing their hair out as they try to understand what a ‘dashboard’ is and how to negotiate the work that teachers set online for their children. Teachers it seems are valuable. As people Zoom some have found the need to ‘zoom bomb’ and disrupt. Others have found time to make countless Tik Tok videos or engage in dance challenges and creating memes and masks. Scammers are selling countless cures and vaccines and touting snake oil, and the desperate are reeled in like gullible fish lured by the sparkly maggot of hope. To stay at home, wash your hands and wear a mask out in public just seems too simple. It’s such a nice day ‘stay at home’. I was getting claustrophobic ‘stay at home’. Whatever excuses you find or make deep down you know they are not reasons to leave home.
Daily I am reminded by the grim evening news that my choices may not kill me but I can kill loved ones because I could not stay home. As I look outside my garden is full of birds, happy that people are absent. I have learned that Covid19 cannot do anything unless we give it life. We can choose to ignore the warnings and carry on as if we are invincible, but Corona has taught us just how fragile we are, just how meaningful human contact is. In a post Corona world, we may think twice about handshakes and hugs, and, sadly, we will probably forget what we have learned until the next virus comes center stage and presses the pause button.
Author’s bio: Dr. Kay Traille is an associate professor of History Education and History at Kennesaw State University. She has been teaching and mentoring for several decades in the field. Originally from the United Kingdom, she moved to the USA in 2007. She continues writing and researching in the field of teaching controversial issues and issues concerning students of color and the teaching of history. You can reach her at email@example.com.
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