Life In the Time of Corona

This is what happens to a junior when a pandemic hits after spring break.

Here+I+am+in+front+of+the+Bean%2C+or+Cloud+Gate%2C+on+March+10%2C+one+day+before+the+COVID-19+outbreak.

Amy Hansen

Here I am in front of the Bean, or Cloud Gate, on March 10, one day before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Shelby Hansen

I was on a plane two days before the coronavirus breakout, on March 8. My spring break was planned to consist of a three-day trip to Chicago to tour Northwestern University, one of the top colleges I was looking at, and then a nice trip down to Port Aransas, Texas. However, I wasn’t able to truly participate in enjoying these things while I was worried about accidentally catching COVID-19. I am not a paranoid person; typically, I can see reason on a subject. Yet when it came to this, I was all sorts of cautious. 

I was on the college tour the day before the outbreak, on March 9. This was the day before people started freaking out. For two days, I had already been in a large, urban city filled with people and traveled on public transports and in Lyfts. Suddenly, this small virus from China that we had been making jokes about was very serious, very fast. That night, I got on a plane to go back home. I have never seen an airport so empty. Most of the terminals had nobody sitting around waiting, the restaurants were empty. Our plane was the most packed one of them all. 

When I got home, my throat began to hurt. It was the worst when I woke up, but it began to stay throughout the day. Then the cough started, but it wasn’t too bad. After three days, the congestion hit. I could barely breathe through my nose, and I would choke on my own spit because the mucus buildup would not allow me to swallow. With everything going on, I was so nervous that I had COVID-19. As an asthmatic, the thought of a potentially deadly respiratory virus sounded terrifying. I did not have body pains or shivers until the nighttime, and my fever never got above 99 degrees, so I assumed I was good. It didn’t seem like a big deal until everything got canceled, including my indoor drumline season. This is when I wanted to get tested because if something so big could get canceled, I knew other things would be, too. 

Everything I had worked for, everything I had practiced for, for months, ended without a warning. It was too sudden to feel real, as I couldn’t imagine not ending the season with NTCA Championships in the gym of Burleson Centennial High School. I felt terrible for the seniors, for everyone who had worked as hard as I did. We had performed the show the last time without knowing it was the last. On March 13, they extended spring break two more weeks, which would then turn to three and then until May 4. This was when I decided that I wanted to get tested. 

When we got home from Port Aransas on March 14, I called the nearest hospital to see if I was “eligible” to get tested for COVID-19. I assumed I would be because I had some of the symptoms and had traveled recently. They asked for my name, age and symptoms, and they told me that I was not eligible for the test. When I asked why they said it was because I was under 70 years old, and I had no proof that I had been in contact with someone who has the virus. I was shocked of course. Nevertheless, I thanked them for their time and hung up. 

This began my period of self-isolation. I didn’t leave my house for about two weeks. In fact, the first time I left was to go to Kroger and pick up some items for dinner today, the day I am writing this. I am better now and am feeling as good as new. I don’t think I had the virus; it might have been a bacterial infection or a cold. We also have to take into consideration that Either way, I’ll never know because I wasn’t allowed to get tested.

 It’s been really hard to isolate for sure. Distance learning isn’t too difficult, but I miss the interaction with the world and my friends. I miss having a schedule and not being bored. It’s difficult because while I am home, my entire family is too; suddenly, a busy family who rarely sees each other consistently because of busy schedules has to learn how to interact and live with each other 24/7. I believe this is a new reality for many families worldwide, but it’s something we must do in order to preserve our planet’s health. 

I do think that this is a good thing in disguise. The disease, no, the deaths, no. This is such a sudden and scary thing to happen to us, something we’ve never seen before on such a wide scale, but we should be using this time to better ourselves as a society. Personally, I’ve been baking, cooking, writing and reading a lot more than my normal daily life would allow me to. Yes, the impact of the quarantine on my mental health has not been the greatest, but it’s been a time for me to evaluate myself and work on myself without the distraction of others or what they think. I enjoy seeing my neighbors wave at each other from across the street or kids playing with chalk. I haven’t seen that in a long time. 

Similarly, I think COVID-19 has exposed a lot about our government as a whole. Without going too much into it, I’ll just say that it has really exposed how much America is underperforming in a variety of topics, from healthcare to sick leave and payment of employees. The rent and job situation for many people is very hard, and there’s nothing currently in place to help them. It has also exposed the lies that the government keeps telling the people, such as the situation in the homeless community. There are many countries that are doing much better than we are, and that’s an eye-opener for many Americans who were taught that America was the best at everything growing up, myself being one of them. I’m hoping this leads to a huge reform in the way we work and do things, and of course, this will be a huge topic in the upcoming November election. 

This quarantine is a lot for all of us. We are learning how to function differently, we are navigating every day with a new way of doing things. There’s a lot of bad, but there’s also a lot of good. I really feel for the seniors during this time. I hope they get their graduation and prom as planned, and I hope we go back to school so I can have my last few weeks with them before they leave for bigger and better things. I hope that juniors (everyone, really, but juniors typically have the most) can successfully pull off this AP Exam situation and still ace our SATs and ACTs. I hope that freshmen were still able to enjoy their freshman year, even if they didn’t get much of a second semester, and I hope that the sophomores are getting prepared for next year’s insanity. As much as this time is for improvement, I also really want to go back to normal. I miss Mrs. Parker’s class and the interactions I have with my classmates, and I miss when Mrs. Bing shares her food with us and tells us to have a nice life every day. I miss the calm of my newspaper class, the insanity in the yearbook room and playing in the band. So, let’s hope we don’t get extended for the rest of the year, and here’s to our coronacation. Also, wash your hands and stay six feet apart.