Is This A New Life? Coronavirus Impact
I’ll warn everyone in advance that I have what might be seen as contradictory thoughts regarding what we’re going through. I won’t apologize because a fundamental nature of humanity is that we sometimes have opposing thoughts, even within ourselves. This also might be a longer than normal read.
I remember back in February, coronavirus was a specter in our collective conscious. Many people I talked to in day to day life thought it was just something that would impact China. I myself looked back at all the diseases that we have seen throughout my life and thought it would sadly affect a relatively small amount of people before ultimately petering out. Life was continuing as normal. All of my social circles were relatively dismissive of the virus and thought it would go away. I didn’t even give any credence to the bio-weapon or NWO conspiracy or what have you with this.
Early March, I could tell things were different. First week, my job started discussing the possibility of working remotely for some days of the week. News started coming out that Italy was being ravaged by the disease. We started seeing European sports leagues cancel their games. The first cases of coronavirus were already in NYC and Washington State. I still went to the gym, wasn’t concerned about a mask (as there was no guidelines at the time) and proceeded almost as normal. I was thinking to myself that this will be interesting to see how remote work becomes more integrated in society and what methods they’ll eventually use to usher more surveillance (the latter was due to the extensive contact tracing that was happening). The things we knew at the time was that it didn’t seem to affect kids, it only affected older people, it was thought of as nothing more than the flu, for some reason there were no people of African descent who got it, and masks weren’t needed.
I remember going to the Jazz-Knicks game on March 4th with my now co-host, Case. It was a regular good time, people were watching the Knicks lose. Nothing crazy, no extra concern about wearing masks. Fast forward to March 10th, I remember coming back to work and noticing the air was different. I was coughing a bit and I wasn’t sure if it was just regular cold or coronavirus or flu or just something in my throat. For some reason, I misplaced my laptop charger in one of our satellite sites a while back otherwise I would not have come back. Working that day, half of the office wasn’t there and I had this weird feeling that I shouldn’t go back to the city after today. I went upstairs and got one of the spare laptop chargers and went about my business.
After work, I went to the gym and worked out without any extra precautions. I heard someone coughing a lung out and was internally shocked. Went home and on the bus, the person next to me was coughing. I knew I wasn’t coming back to the city for who knows how long. I’m watching the NBA and I notice Rudy Godert (the same one I saw a week earlier) had the virus. He was the first person of African descent who had the virus. The Mavs game I was watching played on as normal, the Pelicans game was canceled, and things forever changed.
On March 11th, the sporting world halted. Every major American sport stopped operations. The Big East somehow thought it was a good idea to have a tournament, but luckily it was canceled after half a game. We saw businesses shut down, governors becoming must listen news, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Brix were elevated to almost folkhero status. For March, every day I saw the case count and death count go up. I theorized with various social circles how overwhelmed we’d be and when things will open again. I personally thought by summer, things would fully be back to normal. Some people thought it’d only be two weeks. My birthday came and went without much fanfare, I was becoming more and more upset that I couldn’t be more social like I was working on becoming.
The news kept getting worse and worse in April. The souls snuffed out were nothing more than a statistic, Cuomo and Murphy kept saying the same things over and over, I was regularly getting in arguments with my friends about coronavirus. The one slight bit of saving grace was the NFL draft. NFL draft had a virtual draft which served as a distraction, and so my friends and I had a virtual zoom party. I borderline wanted to cry because it was first time in months I’ve socialized with anybody (I obviously had to go outside for food and groceries). But I can tell the pandemic was wreaking havoc on mental sanity. My home was becoming my job and everyday just started to blend into the next. I missed my coworkers. Despite the money I saved from various things being cancelled, I missed my commute and I missed the social opportunities of the city. Zooms are a poor substitute for real life interaction, as my social psychology professor in college told me.
I expected things to become better in May, but it was more of the same. Deaths, cases, conferences, etc…It was tiring to be lectured about how badly the US was doing when I and millions of others have taken the necessary precautions to flatten the curve (which seemingly turned into eliminating the virus completely, something that can’t be organically done without a vaccine). I had video games as a distraction, but that can only carry you but so far. I was thankful for still having a job and an apartment, and I was thankful for me and all of my friends/family/and loved ones being alive. But I was mentally tired. I still got in arguments because I questioned some of the inconsistent messaging we received and how the message is ‘listen to x doctor, y scientist’. It’s ideal and it’s mostly correct, but unquestioningly listening to those people means that back in early 20th century, we would have believed black people had smaller brains or that eugenics is a good course of science. That was my point of contention that I never could quite articulate until now. I was also worried about the longer we stay closed, the less money people will have and more riots that will come to pass.
Late May, I saw restrictions ease and the numbers go drastically down in tri-state area. With things plateauing in other parts of the country, I thought ‘maybe there’s light at the end of the tunnel’. Then the protests happened because of police brutality. As shown time and time again in history, racism is the ultimate virus of the country. People took to the street in numbers we’ve never seen. People spoke out that never said anything before, companies said BLM (whether you think it’s pandering or sincere is your choice). But now, you saw conservatives acting almost…bitter that people were protesting and that the media endorsed it. The first amendment is still something in our constitution. For anyone to say protesting can’t be allowed because of coronavirus would have very bad ramifications far beyond anything you can think of. ESPECIALLY when it is due to another black man dying at the hands of the police. The same arguments were coming up, the same patterns, the same rebuttals, the same pain.
Going into June and July, several Republican states started seeing a crazy surge. They were now on media as being bad examples. Once again, just when we saw the light it turned out to be a train headed towards us. Hospitals overwhelmed, morgues overflowing. It was depressing seeing so much death on social media every day. People not wearing a mask because they insultingly compared it to slavery. As an aside, it was always a white person uttering that foolishness because black people know to compare wearing a cloth to the trauma of slavery is anathema. I theorized that the spikes, if not result of bad intervention by premature opening, were a pattern that should end by late August if what we saw in NY and NJ applied. As it turns out, the pattern came to pass and cases are drastically down in those cities.
As we go into mid July, I started going out again. I saw some of my friends in Hoboken, and it honestly was one of my better days in several months. I shook hands and hugged (with mask). It’s very hard to ignore biological wiring to social distance, and even the people most eager to quarantine cannot deny this. I realized just how isolated this virus has made many of us. Social media is poor substitute for actual face to face interactions with the ones we care about. Instead of brute force suppression for the first few months, we should have limited services and allowed people to continue their lives with vastly reduced capacity and mandatory masking. Instead we sacrificed time, our mental health, our economic health, our physical health because of egos in the administration. Americans only got compensated 1200 dollars (at MOST) for that anguish. If this were the medieval times, people would be tarred and feathered by now. Instead we’re just going to vote and hope the problem goes away. I hope we can look on this time as a pivotal moment in human history where things changed for the better and we never sacrifice this many people again.
I’ll end by talking about how Cuomo receives a lot of praise that isn’t justified. Ignoring issues with nursing homes (because I honestly don’t know what other solution there was) the success NYC has is because the virus took a normal ‘route’ with them so to speak. Sharp peaks and very sharp valleys. The curve couldn’t have been flattened because we were first to be hit. Him writing a book like he personally did something to solve things spits in everyone’s face. NJ had a very similar peak and valley and Murphy isn’t writing a book. You know why? Murphy isn’t self-aggrandizing himself and using a pandemic to pat himself on the back. This country is sick, and it’s not because of coronavirus. It’s because of arrogance.