You’re not alone: Impact of COVID around the globe

People all over planet Earth are being impacted by COVID-19.

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People all over planet Earth are being impacted by COVID-19.

By Christine Hinckley, Middle College High School

If you cough in public now, everyone will look at you. Ever since coronavirus hit the world, our lives have changed. From the way we shop to our living situation, COVID-19 has affected our lives greatly. But you’re not the only person dealing with this tough time. There is a world around us. A world filled with other people with their own struggles due to this virus. We’re in this together. Just from a distance of six feet. 

Canada shut down March 23. Christel Wintels, a business owner in Ontario, Canada described the lockdown process.

Wintels said, “Businesses had to stop doing business within 24 hours and move (if they could) their businesses home because of isolation.” 

Canada approached the pandemic in a different way than California did. Everybody went into complete isolation and could only leave if it was essential. 

Wintels said, “Based on toilet paper sales, everybody felt panicked.” She said that people were buying out stores. “It gave them a sense of control and safety so they bought a lot of supplies,” she said.

In Canada, wearing a mask is not optional. Wearing a mask is a part of the law. Canada just recently started to open back up slowly because of school starting again. They’re spiking in cases again. Wintels predicts that there is going to be another lockdown. 

Wintels liked that her government took action quickly. 

“In March they took action quickly. They were firm and direct,” said Wintels. 

What she doesn’t like is, “they’re being wishy-washy with the school.” Canada hasn’t come up with a new lockdown plan yet. They don’t want to close schools because there is an issue with parents with young children going to school. Wintels said that there is a five-stage lift plan. 

Step one- Only seeing immediate family

Step two- Seeing 10 people in your social circle

Step three- Seeing 20 people in your social circle

Step four- Seeing 100 people wherever (big events example: weddings)

Step five- Everything is lifted and back to normal

Canada is on step four as of now, but they are soon to be back at step two. Nobody could get married all summer because of this plan. So, when they opened back up, there were a lot of ceremonies to be done. This could have contributed to the case spike. Wintels knew of two weddings a few weekends ago. Both had one hundred people. She said that, “Four people at one have tested positive. Everyone has to get tested now.” 

Before the pandemic, Wintels didn’t worry about how she was interacting with people. Now she’s hyper-aware of how close she is to people if she shakes hands with them or not, and if the people she is near show they are ill with something. 

“There’s a lot more anxiety now,” she said.

She doesn’t hug or touch anyone but her mom anymore. Wintels said that the lockdown was hard. She couldn’t see her friends and there were lots of video conferences. She “never ever did that before Covid.” 

Wintels is more comfortable with using technology for business purposes. She bought extra office equipment and set it up in her basement. Having an extra workspace that resembles her office makes her feel secure with work. Although she prefers her office at work, this will do for the time being.

Wintels said, “When I first had to work at home and wasn’t allowed to leave, I had less productivity and energy.” 

Wintels said that she learned to enjoy her time in quarantine. She taught herself not to worry too much about it. When asked about what she would do differently she stated, “I would’ve told myself sooner it’s okay to feel like you’re not on top of your game.”  

Wintels believes that we all have a responsibility in this. 

“I think it’s made every single person on this planet realize we are all connected whether we like it or not,” she said.

Wintels strongly believes that if you have tested positive it is crucial for you to stay home. It is “irresponsible and selfish if you don’t.”

Wintels tosses and turns at night.

 “You don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if your friends are going to get sick. You don’t know if your family is going to get sick. You just don’t know,” she said.

Patrick Richardson, a 17-year-old from Belfast, Northern Ireland had a similar experience.

“At the beginning, we closed schools and people had to self isolate. They were only allowed to exercise once a day. Gradually,  people were allowed to meet in groups of six. After that was 15. After summer we had to help out to help businesses. If you went out for food on Monday through Wednesday you got it half price. After that schools went back,” said Richardson.  

Richardson said that people are not allowed to meet in groups of more than six. There is a second chance of a lockdown. When asked if schools reopening led to the increase of cases Richardson said, “The government is blaming it on people socializing in groups.” He went on to say, “I think that it’s stupid to say that people can’t hang out in large groups to prevent spread whenever there are classes of 30 people in contact all the time in schools.”

Richardson’s aunt and uncle who are both health workers caught the virus. His mother, who teaches in a grammar school, is “finding work miserable.” However, she is de-stressing with tennis. It also took Richardson a while to get the hang of online classes. 

Richardson was one of the unfortunate ones to have a birthday in quarantine.

“Literally the week of my birthday we all had to self isolate but for me, it wasn’t too bad due to me being a gamer and all my friends being on Xbox,”he said. 

Everything shut down on March 20 for Northern Ireland.

Richardson said, “There was no routine and just felt directionless. It was depressing after the second week.” 

After the lockdown slowly started to lift, he felt a little bit better. The great weather and seeing his friends again improved Richardson’s state of mind. Reading and infrequent walks on the beach kept Richardson entertained.

“Being able to hang with friends again was great at the end,”  said Richardson. 

Christopher Crook, who is 16 years old and lives in Wales, UK said that his quarantine started around March 28. His government implemented a two-meter rule.

They made “wearing masks mandatory in shops, crowded places, and transports,” said Crook.

Everybody started working from home.

“Schools closed down. So did restaurants, fast food places,  swimming pools, gyms, hairdressers, cinemas,” he said. 

Everything that wasn’t essential was closed, but later,  “Most things have lifted,” Crook stated.

There is talk of a second lockdown already. Crook said that a couple of his friends caught the virus, but they’re fine now.

“I like how they put us on lockdown, but I don’t like how they opened stuff back up so early. Our cases are already rising,” said Crook. 

Before quarantine, Crook was very social.

“I enjoyed going out with my friends,” said Crook.

But now he stays in most days. He keeps in contact with his friends but it’s not the same as in-person interaction.

“My mental health has taken a turn for the worse, but I think I’m okay now.” 

During his time in quarantine, Crook spent a lot of time cooking, gaming, and playing guitar. Crook advises you to “wear your masks and stay safe.” 

Hayli Charron, a 16-year-old from Effingham, Illinois has an issue with the state government. Charron believes that since Chicago is the largest city in Illinois, everyone else gets left behind. She feels as if the governor focused mainly on Chicago but forgot about everyone else. Charron is anticipating school opening back up so she can see her friends. 

Charron’s neighbor caught the virus.

Charron said, “If I catch it I’ll cry because I’m a germaphobe.”

Charron said that her life is so much worse now because she’s scared of germs and is claustrophobic. Wearing a mask is hard for people with claustrophobia. 

“I did not enjoy it. I was so lonely and in disbelief because what in the world just happened? The whole world is on pause,” Charron said.

Charron emphasized the importance of wearing a mask but she also thinks we should be more compassionate with older people who refuse. She still thinks they should wear it, however. 

“Wear your masks but be forgiving to older relatives who are stubborn about masks. You know who you are,” said Charron.

Julia Kelly, an 18-year-old in the Bronx attends Manhattan College. To stay safe she said, “Me and my roommates try not to bounce around between groups. We try to stay with our group of friends only because you can’t really trust anyone completely to stay safe.”

The rules in Manhattan aren’t enforced like they are in other places. People do not usually wear masks.

“You can walk on the street and no one will say anything- even cops don’t wear masks,” said Kelly. 

You can’t go into a place if it is higher than 25% of its capacity.

“For example, if 100 people can usually sit in a restaurant only 25 can now,” said Kelly. They were more strict about going out than they were with wearing masks. “My mom knew people who had it and my dad’s boss had it.” 

Quarantine has helped Kelly, “ I was really depressed before quarantine like nothing was working out especially with my friends and once I was in quarantine I was able to cut those people out of my life and really focus on myself.” Kelly spent her time watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and hanging out with friends. Kelly thinks it’s super important for people to be socially distant and stay in as much as they can. 

Madison Thompson, a 24-year-old from Bozeman, Montana said that her state had a phase plan. This was similar to the UK and Canada. Her state wore masks and social distanced. Thompson had a friend in Billings, Montana who had caught the virus but didn’t give it to anyone. She has a lot of friends who work in the service industry so most of her friends were out of a job during the quarantine. Some have been able to go back but they cannot work full time. Thompson had a job the whole quarantine. She had to work from home most of the time but her job was secure. Thompson works as a wastewater engineer. She liked that her state shut down early, but it took them a while to actually enforce the mask-wearing rule. 

Before quarantine Thompson was a very social person. Thompson would go on a lot of hikes, go to bars, go dancing, and partying. During quarantine, she had a lot of virtual friendships. She said that she could connect with other people who were geographically further. Thompson’s roommate, Sam, has a night job and would see her on the weekends. She liked that she was still working normal hours, and could hang out with her cats. Piper and Ollie were very nice company she said. Thompson ultimately did not like her time in quarantine. “It was boring.” 

“I was very lucky to have a job but didn’t have the normal quarantine experience because of how little people there are here, and I still had a job,” she said.

Thompson started reading more during her time spent. She liked to play games with her friends and interact with her roommate. 

Joseph Armstrong, an 18-year-old from Tennessee, has chosen to stay out of the loop.

“I don’t really keep up with all the Covid news though. To me, it’s something that’s just gonna pass by so why get worked up about it?”

When asked about his state’s precautions he said, “I guess what any state did. Wear masks, stay six feet apart, stay at home as much as possible. Wash your hands. All the essential stuff everyone’s been doing you know.” 

Armstrong doesn’t like to wear a mask.

He said, “Wearing masks is the main thing I hate. Because the truth is they aren’t really protecting you. A friend of mine said she was at a store and in the checkout the clerk was wearing a mask, and she coughed. Even though she had a mask on, my friend could still feel the wind of the cough hit her hand. So the masks are ultimately just pieces of fabric that are making people rich because so many people all around the world are buying them. It seems like rich money lovers are just trying to take advantage of people through this virus. That’s just my opinion though. I don’t know if it’s true or not. “ 

Armstrong’s family also doesn’t like the mask-wearing policy.

“Also, the wearing a mask thing is something my mom has a hard time doing. She’s kinda claustrophobic and it makes it hard for her to breathe. And my dad is sort of the same way. I hate it too, but it’s not unbearable. I wear a mask all the time at my job,” he said.

Armstrong likes that everyone is social distancing.

“As an introvert that was something that made me really happy,” he said.

Armstrong did not know anyone who caught the virus.

When asked about his life now, Armstrong said, “I feel like life is starting to get a little busier. I’m an adult now, so a lot of responsibilities come with that. This year is kind of a difficult time to go into adulthood and being more independent. There’s a lot of things I want to do, I’ve got dreams and ambitions. And I feel like Covid is a major obstacle keeping me from chasing a bright future for myself. But thanks to the internet, I don’t really have to go anywhere to be successful or explore new things. I just started a podcast recently and it’s been really fun to get new listeners and get their feedback.”

Armstrong reflected on how the pandemic is affecting his life going forward.

“Becoming an adult at a time like this really makes life seem more real. Like I’m not just going into adulthood like people normally do. I’m actually learning along the way. And I’m sure it’s like that for everyone who becomes an adult, but a lot of people kinda do adult things at like 15 or 16. Not me though. I’ve lived a really sheltered life so there’s so much in the world that I have never experienced that normal teens and young adults already have. So yeah, it’s really a huge learning process. Like one moment I’m a lazy irresponsible teenager and the next I’m kinda just thrown into adulthood. And it’s kinda given me like a reality check. Like I need to quit living in my own little world and realize there’s so much more. So much more than the box I’ve put myself in. There’s a huge massive world out there waiting for me. And I can’t just sit around doing nothing. I’ve gotta be active and work towards my goals and quit waiting on life to just take me wherever,” he said.

In quarantine, Armstrong has become closer with his family. 

“I’ve realized that it’s truly a blessing to be at home all the time. Some people my age are off in college or something and don’t get to be around family much. So I’m trying to savor every moment with my family at this time,” he said. 

This story was originally published on The Spellbinder on October 16, 2020.