It’s almost silly the shift in my life from a night, to a day, to a week ago. Literally, a week ago, I was planning my next steps, my next location, my next transition. Poof. Gone. In a matter of minutes.
Update after update.
Numbers after numbers.
CORONAVIRUS. SERIOUS. BRACE YOURSELVES.
As the whispers of school closures until the end of the school year trickled in on Tuesday, I knew. I was still submitting applications then, eager to move on from current assignments, when, from a completely different state, a state behind mine in confirmed cases of COVID-19, the sister told me in her pre-school’s emergency meeting that school might be canceled for the remainder of the year and her job hung in the balance. What? There’s no way. We’re set to return mid April. You guys are behind us in the wave. Panic flared. There’s no way. WAY. Minutes later, I checked my news source’s messages, and it’s my editor-in-chief sending us a link to my governor’s announcement of a likely school closure through the current school year. What? I know intimately what we—teachers and education—mean to the United States of America, its kids, its families, its future. If you’re shutting us down for the foreseeable future, this is massive. I went googling immediately.
Later that night came the brother’s link to the death projections of this virus.
NO NO NO NO NO.
As I followed the projections, a dread welled up in me.
- Do nothing to respond to the virus = 4 million Americans dead in a few months
- Practice social distancing = 2 million Americans dead in a few months
- Go into suppression and legally quarantine the nation = Thousands dead, and yes, only thousands
HOW DID IT ESCALATE SO QUICKLY?
- Just Saturday afternoon, I was joking about heading out to Covid territory for ice cream with the family through text, and I went.
- Sunday afternoon, tired of my room, I went out for a nice bowl of pho and some tea. Sunday midnight, one of our writers messaged our editors team, alerting us to a possible nationwide lockdown. I started to worry, unsure of the fallout that would come from the American public’s response to stripped liberties, so I called the brother, who happened to be up still, even though he’s an hour ahead of my time. We talked, and I spiraled into hysteria, anticipating the future with my understanding of the current state of humanity. The brother calmed me down, and I determined I was going shopping in the early morning, in the next few hours.
- Monday morning, I forced myself up and found myself loading a cart full of groceries. Nothing actually excessive, just much more than I typically buy, since in my normally busy schedule, I often grab snacks and dinners from stores and restaurants.
- Tuesday afternoon, came the likelihood of school closures until the fall. Tuesday evening, I was made aware of the scientific projections of Coronavirus transmissions and deaths, based on the numbers from China, South Korea, and Italy, that the U.S. government is using to make decisions for the nation and its people that was released to the public. The numbers are catastrophic, if interventions and preventions are not put into place. At last, I finally understand the gravity of the situation.
- Wednesday, because I finally understood the delicate situation the United States and the world at large was facing—millions dead when we each have the ability to prevent it—I started trying to educate others. I knew the west coast was days ahead in cases of transmission and recognized that the midwest and south, even to the east coast, except for New York, remained days behind us in understanding this virus and its effects as I was already starting to feel it in my daily life with my state’s decisions, doled out every hour it seemed. I sort of started coming off as a lunatic to family and friends; my family, thankfully, both understanding the seriousness of the situation through my information and trying to keep me leveled all the same.
- Thursday afternoon, my city was legally ordered to quarantine. I texted my family two states over, and six states over: “It’s happening.” I read through the legal order document from my city and wrote an article for my news source. Thursday evening, the governor announced a statewide order—FINALLY—to “stay at home” with projections that over half our state would become infected with the virus and overwhelm the healthcare system if the mandatory lockdown didn’t happen.
- Today, it is now Friday, one day away from Saturday, a week ago when I stepped out for some ice cream.
The brevity in escalation that took place in my own life in the last week is the speed at which COVID-19 is spreading. Swiftly and relentlessly.
The moment I realized I could compromise the life of others was the moment I shifted all perspective, all habits, all efforts. Humans have long been what I live for, and surely, I was going to do everything in my limited power to preserve them.
I am praying that the stubborn hearts and minds of other Americans soon start to soften as they begin to understand the severity of the moment in which we stand. We write history together in our choices today.
God, help us.
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