The virus we had joked about has taken over our city—the same virus that we thought couldn’t affect us, much less derail the second semester of our senior year. Even when the first death was reported in the U.S., less than half an hour away, it didn’t feel real. Despite watching the crisis develop in Wuhan, China, and later in Italy, we were mostly blindsided and certainly weren’t expecting such an abrupt departure from normal life.
I’ve always been fortunate enough to live in a place where the grocery stores are stocked, where I’ve been able to go to school and to work, where I’ve had the luxury and freedom to go where I’d like. But suddenly these comforts are gone, and I’ve found myself isolated and alone, butting heads with my family as we tread on already heightened nerves.
The most recent victim of this calamity has been my ability to work. Last week, I received an all-staff email from the pool where I teach swim lessons, instructing us to file for unemployment, only to find out that I don’t qualify. The construction company my father and I work for also closed, leaving my father out of work. I’ve picked up more hours working as a mechanic at a bicycle shop to help out. But the effects of this pandemic are crushing hourly workers like myself; we are losing jobs, ordered to stay at home by our governor. At least I have a home to be confined to.
When school was first canceled, many of my peers were focused on what this would mean for graduation and our AP classes. Now we’re seeing the impact on our studies stretching far beyond that. How will this affect our first year of college in the fall? How can I afford college if my family and I can’t work? I was already looking at private loans. Will I be able to fund my aspirations of becoming a first-generation college student?
Even as the days become one, we have to keep on keeping on. Everyone must aid in mitigating the effects of this pandemic, because even if you aren’t at risk, you could end up taking away a hospital bed from someone who is. If we can all hunker down and do our best to not flood the health care system, this crisis will pass.