Life has become a challenge since the coronavirus pandemic hit America. The number of deaths related to the pandemic increase every hour of the day. To help prevent the spread of the virus, the federal government ordered a nationwide shutdown of all state and local businesses, federal agencies and learning institutions.
This order has caused America’s vibrant and flourishing economy to come to a screeching halt. Local businesses that have been most affected by the lockdown have lost millions or even billions of dollars in revenue. Some businesses have laid off most or all of their employees and closed. Public schools have moved their classes fully online while colleges and universities ordered students who were living on campus instructions to pack their belongings. Only essential businesses are authorized to remain open to provide public service.
I have adjusted my whole lifestyle. I used to wake up around 3:30 a.m. to watch Bloomberg and local news on the television. While catching up, I would work on college assignments that were soon due. Now, though I am still following these routines, I can no longer go outside and enjoy bike rides and fresh air. My new routine requires me to wear a long-sleeve shirt to protect my skin, a face mask to prevent breathing in the virus, and goggles to protect my eyes. When I go outside, my exposed skin becomes irritated. The irritation reminds me of the gas chamber training during my stint in the military. For some reason, I feel like the government isn’t telling the citizens all that they need to know about the virus.
Also, due to social distancing, I’m unable to be one of the first people in line for a haircut. Usually, after getting a haircut, I would purchase essential bulk supplies for the family. Now, when I arrive there, the lines are long, and I have to wait for hours before entering the store. I used to take the items home, unload them, and carry them into the house in no time. Or, if I needed to make a business transaction, I would visit my local credit union and have the option to use the lobby or the drive-thru to make my transactions. When I arrive now, the credit union’s lobby is closed and only the drive-thru is available. Due to the lobby being closed, everyone lines up in their vehicles to make banking transactions at the drive-thru
Then there is the issue of attending class. Since social distancing is being enforced, this is impossible. I can’t physically interact with professors and my fellow students. I miss receiving assistance with complex problems and having access to professors for clarification of class instructions. Nor can I use campus library equipment for classroom assignments. Meeting with fellow students to discuss and complete group assignments is something I always looked forward to doing. Having the opportunity to walk on campus and be around interested and ambitious people is irreplaceable.
Now, classes are being conducted by Zoom. I still have the opportunity to interact with my professors and fellow students — but without live, face-to-face conversation. During Zoom sessions, most students have their cameras off and mics muted. The conversation occurs, but it’s just not the same. Students continue waiting around to talk with the professors, but the wait seems longer.
The enforcement of social distancing due to the pandemic has forever changed my life as a student. I don’t think it will ever be the same again.