COVID-19 Impact: Outside of The First State

Photo: John Hopkins University of Medicine

As the coronavirus spreads its deadly effects worldwide, it also has shown us which countries have the right leadership to stand up this challenge and which do not.

As of June 24th, there have been over 9.18 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, 4.6 million recovered cases, and 475,000 deaths worldwide, according to the John Hopkins University of Medicine.

The United States under Donald Trump’s leadership was not prepared for the virus at all, as he ignored warnings, tried to call it a hoax, blame other countries and also disbanded NSC pandemic unit that the Obama administration put in place to a handle pandemic. Not to mention the lack of nationwide testing, states bidding against each other, and the federal government for needed medical supplies and the federal government leaving the governors to figure out how to solve this crisis themselves. Trump has been the catalyst for states to rush to reopen and not showing the proper way to social distance or wearing a mask to stop the spread of the virus.

The chaotic leadership during this time has led the United States to have over 2.39 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 121,228 American lives have been lost due to this virus, according to the John Hopkins University of Medicine.

The virus has killed more people than on 9/11 or wars that Americans have fought in.

In the state of Delaware, there are 10,820 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 504 Delawareans have lost their lives to the virus. Governor John Carney has been cautiously opening the state with social distancing guidelines still in play, even with Delaware in Phase II of the reopening process.

With all this known, I wanted to hear people’s stories on how the virus has affected their daily lives and how they have dealt with it. I talked with a resident of Nevada, Florida, and Montreal, Canada to hear how they have coped with this pandemic we are living through.

From The First State To The Sunshine State

As of June 24th, Florida has 103,495 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 3,237 deaths from the virus.

The first one up is Angie who lives in Florida where she is a full-time stay-at-home caregiver. Angie talks everything from how she feels Florida is reopening too quickly to what supplies are the hardest to get right now.

What was the moment that you realized that this virus was real and not a joke?

“I first realized that the virus was real in early February. Before then, I had assumed that it would be confined to Asia and Washington State. On February 10, a couple aboard the Diamond Princess contacted the local NBC affiliate and informed the station of Japan’s quarantine of the ship. Over the next week, I heard the couple describe the growing number of passengers becoming infected with the virus and them begging the government to get them off the ship. My first thought was that American passengers would return home and spread it to the rest of the country before finishing quarantine. Unfortunately, those concerns became reality within the next two weeks as the virus began to spread throughout the US.”

What adjustments did your work or college do during this pandemic to keep you safe?

“I’m a full-time stay-at-home caregiver to my elderly father. We didn’t have to make many adjustments. The only major ones have been obtaining masks, which took nearly two months to get, and my staying home while Dad visits his physician in the office.”

What were some of the earliest restrictions your state or city put in place because of the pandemic?

“On March 9, Florida issued a state of emergency but shutting the state was a very gradual process. On March 11th, Governor DeSantis limited the number of visitors to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. March 17th, brought the closure of bars, nightclubs and restaurants were required to switch to take-out and delivery on March 20. State parks closed on March 22nd. On March 30th, DeSantis issued stay-at-home orders for Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties, and students and parents received news that in-person classes, which hadn’t met since March 17th, wouldn’t resume until May. Finally, on April 3rd, Florida was under a statewide stay-at-home order. Unfortunately, we had over 10,000 cases and 170 known deaths by the time the order was issued, and the public suspected that DeSantis’s failure to issue more restrictions was motivated by a desire to get as much tax revenue from spring breakers as possible.

Meanwhile, my county waited until March 31 to put any form of restrictions in place. The county commissioners issued a stay-at-home advisory which allowed for people to leave home for doctor’s groceries, appointments, vet visits, and golfing and outdoor activities. (No way were they going to take golfing away from the largest retirement community in the state.)”

How did your day-to-day routine change?

“My daily routine hasn’t changed much. Dad and I live in a rural area. We have neighbors, and we tend to talk either while we are getting our mail from our mailboxes or while we see each other outside. Frequently, we find ourselves yelling across our properties. The only time Dad and I leave the house is for groceries and doctor’s appointments. We have had two video calls for Dad’s appointments, and I had to learn how to operate the software. (I’ve never used video calls before because my schedule usually clashes with my friends.) Other than that, it’s been relatively unchanged.”

How good do you feel about your state’s reopening process?

“I feel that Florida is re-opening too quickly. We are the third-largest state in the nation in terms of population, a major tourist destination, and one of the main retirement destinations for seniors. We should have been testing universally and social distancing from the beginning. Instead, Florida’s governor decided to prioritize the state’s economy, which is based on tourism and the retail/service industry, over public health. As a result, our re-opening makes us more vulnerable to a second wave.”

What have been some of the hardest things for you during this pandemic?

“I think the hardest thing has been the court of public opinion. Everyone’s attitude reminds me of my fellow Floridians’ attitude toward hurricane preparation. Growing up, people took a very laid back approach to storms. Andrew changed things in terms of construction, but it didn’t change people’s minds concerning preparations. In 2004, Charley, Frances, and Jeanne devastated the state over a six-week period, and people started taking tropical systems more seriously. Now, everyone’s more/ likely to prepare for the worst the moment we hear about a major hurricane heading our way.

In the case of COVID-19, though, we, as a nation, are divided between the people who take the risks of infection and complications seriously and those who feel that everyone is overreacting to something that has not conformed to the government’s models so far. Unfortunately, it’s the second wave’s numbers the CDC wants to flatten, not the first, and I think that the CDC and the WHO haven’t made that clear enough for critics of the CDC’s response to the crisis. I feel it might take the second wave for people to realize the seriousness of the disease. And that scares me.

The other hard thing has been finding several supplies. Early on, toilet paper and canned goods were in high demand here, but they were back to normal within a month. I, however, haven’t seen masks, disposable gloves, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes in stores for two months. (I’ve bought my masks from a reputable online dealer whom I stumbled across on eBay.) The government wants us to have them on hand. With the shortages, though, it appears to be impossible at the moment. And, for some odd reason, our store had been out of margarine from the start of the pandemic until last week. I figured the companies couldn’t import the vegetable oils from their usual sources because of the virus, but there has been no explanation for the shortage. I substituted real butter for the margarine instead.”

Heading To Canada

As of June 24th, Montreal, Canada has 27,074 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 3,331 deaths from the virus.

The next one up is Sonia who lives in Montreal, Canada where she is a college student. Sonia talks about everything from how her everyday routine drastically changed to how she feels about Montreal’s reopening process. 

What was the moment that you realized that this virus was real and not a joke?

“When they started talking about closing schools and universities.”

What adjustments did your work or college do during this pandemic to keep you safe?

“My college decided to go online, most of my classes were happening via our student board or Zoom.”

What were some of the earliest restrictions your state or city put in place because of the pandemic?

“Closing universities and schools first and no more groups meeting.”

How did your day-to-day routine change?

“Drastically. I’m used to going outside, pretty much every day because of college. I use public transportation a lot and I like to take a lot of walks, going downtown. All of this changed. Now, thanks to that, I’m still unsure of taking public transportations.

This made me improve my cooking skills, especially with desserts. But I’m also more tired compared to what I used to be, because I do nothing, going back and forth in my apartment and taking a walk from time to time. Our city(Montreal- Quebec) wasn’t as restricted, as to forbid us to go outside at all, so at least there was that. And I also shopped online more than I would do in a year.”

How good do you feel about your city’s reopening process?

“I think they respected everything, they didn’t rush into it and it’s still a slow process. They decided to reopen shops with outside entrances only and they decided to keep schools closed until September. So I think, they’re doing well but nobody should just rush like crazy in shops or malls (malls are closed anyway but some of their shops are open if they have outside entrance), so it’s good. Then, it’s all up to you to protect yourself in the best way you know how if  you’re going to hang out in those places. It’s a step by step process and they’re handling it well in my opinion.”

What have been some of the hardest things for you during this pandemic?

“Not seeing my friends, being restricted just to walk in the area on my own will, to protect myself, to protect others. Having to wait in line outside (especially when winter wasn’t over yet) every time you go into a grocery store or convenience stores, anything like that, but those are just details. To me, the hardest thing is not being able to see anyone at all and being near a breakdown mostly every day wondering when all of this is going to be over one day.”

Let’s Go To Nevada

As of June 24th, Nevada has 13,535 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 489 deaths from the virus.

The last person featured in this article is Sophie who is a college student and a fast-food worker in Nevada. Sophie talks about everything from changes she saw at her work due to the pandemic and how she had to take on more responsibilities at home.

What was the moment that you realized that this virus was real and not a joke?

“I realized this virus was real and not a joke when I had to be tested just for waking up with a fever one day and was asked to stay home and quarantine for two weeks. Another thing that would clarify what was happening was serious is when my work decided to close, and required us to wear a mask and gloves at all times.”

What adjustments did your work or college do during this pandemic to keep you safe?

“My college switched to all online classes, and my work (McDonald’s) closed our lobby and switched from being a 24-hour establishment to running from 6 am-11 pm. Our lobby is now open again but only from 10 am-3 pm. We have daily access to face masks, we have plexiglass shields in our lobby, and shields in front of our drive-thru window.”

What were some of the earliest restrictions your state or city put in place because of the pandemic?

“On March 17th, Nevada’s governor ordered that all non-essential businesses close, leaving behind grocery stores, restaurants (no dining in), and pharmacies. On April 8th, he banned large church gatherings, closed bars, and prohibited barbers from providing customers with at-home services. Lastly, on April 21st, our governor declared that school would be closed for the rest of the year.”

How did your day-to-day routine change?

“The only part of my day-to-day routine that changed is how often I visit the store. Near the beginning of the crisis, I went out pretty much every day to look for necessities such as toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and meat.”

How good do you feel about your city’s reopening process?

“Though I appreciate that my state is opening back up in phases, I think that we’re probably moving too fast. It feels like each phase has only been a few days. I hope our cases don’t go back up, but it’s fairly obvious that Las Vegans are tired of staying at home.”

What have been some of the hardest things for you during this pandemic?

“Some of the hardest things for me during the pandemic we’re watching my grandma break down and get upset and nervous about what was going on and what could happen to our family every day. My grandma, who works at an elementary school, also took a cut in pay after school let out for the rest of the year, so even though I’ve gotten a raise, I still have to worry about some household bills that I did not previously have to worry about.”

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