Testing: An Oral History of Covid-19

Testing%3A+An+Oral+History+of+Covid-19

Today, March 12, 2021, marks a full year since the day all Parkview students were last in school. The spread of coronavirus around the world has changed lives and lifestyles drastically. In honor of this occasion, the Parkview Pantera newspaper staff has conducted 22  interviews which share hopes, fears, lessons, and changes of people during the course of this ongoing pandemic. Interviewees range from college students to healthcare workers, people out of state and country, and members right in the community of Parkview.

Below, you will find a list of interviewees and a description of who they are.  Thereafter, you will see their stories.  The interviews have been edited only for clarity, and have been divided across common topics.

An Introduction to Each Speaker:

Aaron Gonzalez is an 18-year-old who is in federal prison. His story is about he lost his father during the pandemic and the isolation of being in jail and having no visitors and also catching the virus himself.

Ameena Hakani is a mother who works as a Neurodiagnostic Technician at Emory Hospital. She has experienced challenges at work with less working time and changing schedules. Still, she’s grown more patient as a person and become purposeful in her life from her time in quarantine.

Amira Chuka is a digital student at Georgia State University. She also has a part-time job at Little Caesar’s. She talks about how she struggles to adjust to the many changes in her life such as entering college in the midst of a global pandemic.

Anna Wang is a senior at Parkview High School. She talks about the missed opportunities in attending her last year of high school digitally.

Camilo is a junior in high school who lives in Puerto Rico. They live with their mother and grandmother and visit their grandparents in the states from time to time. They share their experience as having visited their grandparents in the U.S., as well as their school experience.

Chandler Watson is a 25-year-old newlywed that got married to her husband Rusty Watson in a not-so-traditional way, in the middle of a pandemic. While they were thrown many curveballs she would not have had it any other way. 

Dayna Peoples is the Dean of Administration at a charter school in Southwest Detroit, Michigan. She recounts her experiences of adjusting to a life and a job that’s been affected by Covid-19. 

Giancarlo Casanova is a seventh-grader at Trickum middle school. He is a student-athlete playing his favorite sports: football and track. 

Jenny Chancey is a fifth-grade teacher at Camp Creek elementary school. She shares her experiences on how the learning environment has changed throughout this pandemic. 

Karen Casanova is an assistant principal at Camp Creek Elementary. She tells her experience working with Covid-19 in elementary schools while still juggling her regular job at the same time. She also shares with us the changes she has made to make sure that she is the best leader she can possibly be for students and staff at her school. 

Professor Leighton is a U.S. history professor at Georgia State University. In his interview, he talks about the struggle of changing to a digital format and the struggles of being an educator during these difficult times of the pandemic.

Lili Casanova is a budget analyst for the CDC. She shares her experience and her role at the CDC with Covid.

Michael Cranford is a Family Medicine resident physician at a metro Atlanta hospital and clinic. He speaks about what it’s like to be working in the medical field while Covid-19 continues to ravage the country.

Muna Mohamed is a 19-year-old college freshman at GSU. Throughout the course of quarantine, she’s had to adapt to digital school, finding a job, and overcoming boredom and loneliness. 

Mya Tran is a 17-year-old high school junior who works at Chipotle. She also lives in Florida, one of the heavily hit states.

Rachel Ash is a Latin teacher at Parkview High School. She speaks about her struggles in adjusting to hybrid-learning at Parkview High School, and how it has affected her role and image as a teacher.

Sonia Azúcar lives in Long Island, New York. She shares her experiences of being in an epicenter and the daily struggles/ and anxiety that come with it. 

Selene Leyva is a 20-year-old college junior who works at a senior home. She lives in Texas and has learned to adapt to these new circumstances. 

Tristen is a senior in high school who lives in Colorado. He previously worked as a sign spinner, but due to COVID was laid off. He also shares his experience with the pandemic as it has affected him in more ways than one.

Zahra Hakani is a 23-year-old Georgia Tech Student living in Atlanta. Because of the pandemic, she took a gap semester and now has returned back to school to finish her studies as an architecture student. She thrives from social interactions, but she has found ways to create memories, cope, and develop herself through it all.

Elizabeth is a student at Parkview High School.  Because she discusses her health and contracting COVID, she has chosen to use a pseudonym.

Schooling Covid-19

A New Way of Teaching

Jenny: March 12, which was the day it shut down. We were — there were kind of rumblings that week, that we were thinking about what was going to happen. That’s when it was obvious that something was going to happen, and I can remember us kinda talking behind the scenes making sure that these kids have everything they need before they go home today. We didn’t want to alarm anybody or the kids especially, but it was kinda like, ‘Ok… make sure you have everything with you.’ We had them take all their belongings like their notebooks, their compositions book, and their folders with them just in case.

Rachel: We were in school on the Tuesday before we were starting digital learning officially. That’s when they told us that we were just going to have concurrent coming up on the 29th… or something like that?  It was upsetting to have very little communication ahead of time. And the communication was not super transparent because they were told, “oh, this is just a maybe, it’s not in stone,” but it kind of was… So, communication has been an issue throughout this whole thing, and that’s one of the things that we’ve [teachers] brought up a few times, but we haven’t gotten very clear communication.  It always seemed like they would rather try to control the discourse than just be honest about the situation.  

Dayna: My school has responded to Covid-19 in a way that forced us to become 100% virtual. At one point, we did have learning labs that were open to students, but we didn’t have more than ten students who were coming to school on a regular basis, and then when the outbreak got a little bit worse, the numbers got higher. We closed the learning lab, so we were 100% virtual for students. We still have the building open for staff who feel more comfortable teaching from school than from home, but it wasn’t required.

And of course, right now, the governor of Michigan is talking about ways that we can bring students back by the 1st week of March, so that has been a big topic of discussion between certain administrators and the board and teachers and parents. They’ve been, you know, collaborating almost weekly to come up with ways to bring students back safely. [Most Michigan schools returned to in-person instruction in the first week of March.]

It’s not an easy conversation at all, and that’s probably why it’s continuing on for weeks and weeks and weeks. I’m actually not privileged to a lot of that information, which for me is OK because it’s a tough decision to make.

Professor Leighton: It was definitely an adjustment from not knowing what was going to happen or when we were going to come back to campus.  It was difficult because not only did I as an educator have to come up with lesson plans, I also had to figure out zoom and what website I would use to hold class. It’s been quite interesting actually especially with the election this year.  As you know I pushed all my students to vote and take the time to understand how this pandemic will affect the history I teach for years to come. 

Jenny: My teaching has completely changed because of the pandemic. The thing that is the same is that I am still teaching kids and still teaching the same content. The difference is that I have to do everything digitally.  I have in-person learners and digital learners simultaneously, and that is very different. All assignments being digital is very different; having to learn the technology has been a huge learning curve, but it is something I have been able to navigate better than I thought I would be able to. 

The biggest thing is that everything is digital now, even for my in-person learners. All the work I’m checking is digital, all the work they’re doing is digital, and it’s the only way to make it work in our setting. Now, I think the hardest part is feeling like I can’t reach the kids that are not allowing themselves to be reachable. The hardest part is knowing there are kids that are getting behind and they are at home, and they are not doing their part to participate in their learning. You have so little control over that, and it frustrates you because as a teacher we want to reach everyone and impact everyone. I guess there are times that I am not able to do that, in the same way as if everybody was [face to face] with me.

Rachel: I love teaching, and I love getting the chance to share my passion for learning with students. And I really love students. I actually think that your generation of students is just a fantastic bunch of people. I think you guys are really aware of the world and want to make it a better place overall, and I think that’s amazing because we were not that generation. Like, seeing this group grow is fantastic on its own already, but with this particular generation, I’ve just seen a lot of growth with you guys. 

This year — and this was something I was going to be looking into for this year anyway — I have gotten into Google Classroom and the things I can do with Google Classroom to make the class more interactive. I got into what I could do with Google slides to make manipulatives; I was really interested in the creative approaches. So, I’ve used Google Slides to make a lot of games and interactive-type things. Recently I created a thing with a lot of tokens, so the whole class could answer like questions, whether they agreed or disagreed all at the same time. So, then you could get kind of like an overview of how the whole class agrees, the whole class disagrees, they’re split, and I could just ask questions and get information pretty immediately. That also lets my in-person class and distance class interact at the same time in a visual way, which is a lot more effective than trying to get them to talk to each other which is not happening a whole lot, of course. I feel like Google Classroom facilitates things in a way that it didn’t. 

I’m about a week ahead on planning on average. I wasn’t at the beginning. I was, I was drowning a little bit, but I finally have gotten to where I’m about a week ahead on planning.  Every day I sort of look ahead and say, how can I try to make class interactive even though I have students [in-person] and students [digitally]? And how could I make it possible that both students could interact on some level? So, I try to create some things where maybe a student here and a student there could become partners on a Google thing that we’re doing.  That’s one of my goals on a regular basis, you know, and so I use Google a lot to allow interaction between my classes. 

… I appreciate you asking these questions because a lot of people haven’t focused on the teachers. And when they do, it’s usually things like “lazy teachers don’t want to work.” That’s one of the things I had to stop doing: reading parent comments on [teacher] things because they hurt. 

Even when we had the snow day last week [February 12th, 2021], one of the parents was like, “another day where teachers aren’t working and just getting paid for nothing.” And I’m actively teaching; I did my normal day like I literally got on Zoom and taught all day. 

[Teacher disapproval is] extra high right now. And I have [experienced this before]. It was around 2010, 2011, somewhere around there. I had to stop watching the news for a while because the tide turned really hard against teachers. I don’t remember exactly what spurred it on. I know it partly was anti-teacher unions. Around the same time Sandy Hook happened, so it may have been reactionary where the teachers may have pushed against active shooter stuff and guns, and then the reaction was “let’s get rid of teachers’ unions and teacher power” and “we hate teachers.” It was so vitriolic; it was so hateful and hurtful against teachers. I was actively feeling super hated upon and depressed by the entire nation. I just had to stop watching the news altogether.  

So that’s the last time it was at this level. This level is kind of crazy… Teachers are the enemy sometimes, and we’re in the middle of those modes. 

Dayna: For me, it has not been difficult. I would say it’s just been different.  Like I have to make myself focus on my task because being at home it’s easier to be distracted. But also, being at home, it’s giving me some time to develop some solid routines that will help me in other aspects of life, not only in my position at work. 

The biggest thing that I’ve noticed is that… well, I don’t want to say my job got a little bit easier, but my job is definitely different, but it’s just me, you know, popping into zooms and observing people on my team who report to me and then filling out reports and keeping logs and virtual meetings with other administrative teams. 

I honestly like going into work better. I go to work once every week. I go on Thursdays. On those days, I can work in my office, and I feel like I get a lot more done on Thursdays because I’m in a work setting. At home, I’ve tried to set my office up, you know, like work, but it’s not the same.  

I don’t think it’s been difficult; I think it’s just been different, and it’s allowed me to kind of see myself in a different light to where when I go back to work, I’m more focused and oriented — goal-oriented — when it comes to getting things done according to a deadline. 

A New Way of Learning

Anna: Honestly, I think [my perception of digital learning] depends on the teacher and the class. Some teachers are more involved. They have synchronous lessons everyday with presentations and notes. With those teachers, I feel like I do learn. Also, usually the more involved teachers will provide other sources like AP Classroom to watch and practice for parts where my learning is less involved. 

I guess I would describe myself as a bit of an overachiever. Honestly, a bit of a perfectionist. I study pretty hard sometimes and I like to do my best on my assignments and stuff.  But I’m also kind of lazy. And I like to put stuff to do later, sometimes. 

I usually get up in the morning and I go straight to class and I kind of look at my classes for the day to kind of see what we’re doing. And then after school I kind of just chill and then we do my homework afterward. I mostly kind of chill right after 2:10. I go on my phone or maybe go on my computer ’cause you know I just kind of feel drained at the end of the day and then maybe around like four-ish I’ll start doing my homework. I definitely prefer in-person learning, because I definitely think everybody misses talking to people like talking to their friends or even getting to know like new people. That’s a lot easier in person. 

And group work is a whole lot worse online because nobody really knows each other, and it’s usually just quiet and awkward. So, breakout rooms usually don’t work out well on zoom. Everyone just kind of sits there and does nothing. I feel like everyone would be a lot more open to talking if we could actually see each other’s faces, you know? 

Another thing about digital learning that isn’t as good as in in-person learning is that I feel like the teachers are kind of figuring it out with us as we go along. Especially in the beginning of the year, there were tons of technical difficulties. In the middle of the lesson, teachers would have to figure out how to handle using the zoom screen share instead of using a whiteboard, which is kind of messy. Also, I feel like with in-person, there’d be more participation since right now it’s just a screen with a teacher usually lecturing us for like half an hour. In school, the teacher might call on people or something.  

Yeah. I think it’s definitely harder by just concentrating and paying attention now than it was before. You’re just looking at a screen and the teacher is just going on and on. And no one’s really checking on you to make sure you’re paying attention either. I know my brother had this problem where he had a really bad grade in his first period class just because he kept falling asleep the whole time. He’s really struggling with that. 

I mean I think just as a whole, we’ve done learning this one way (in-person) for 10-12 years of our lives, and then now we’re doing it this whole other way and it just sucks. It’s just different, and change is hard. 

Elizabeth: [Learning is] going good. Virtual learning allows me to manage my time even better than I would be able to at school. I have more time to study. My grades and college have kept me motivated. I’m trying to get into a good college so it’s very important for me to keep up my grades. 

Tristen: Well, Junior year was all in person. So far, for my Senior year, it’s all been virtual. I haven’t been in school for pretty much anything other than to bring in some cans of food for the harvest table, one of the school things [I volunteer to do]. But I never get to go to class and stuff. Uh. I’d say the work ethic of some teachers has kind of slipped, like having problems or some just not putting in grades, but that’s just stuff that everyone has to catch up on. 

Vy: Honestly Covid has impacted me in a way…  that it just makes me realize that I just can’t take anything for granted, you know? I often found myself hoping that I would be able to go back to school and hang out with my friends, going back to a time when we were all at school without having to be afraid of something. For the yearbook especially, it just made the interviews hard and unreliable.  

It is sad to see that there are still people out there who are refusing to wear masks because they think it violates their rights– like unless someone does have a legitimate medical condition, mask-wearing is a must. And because of the slow responses, reopening, and people refusing to wear masks, we are where we are at right now– [with] more than 500,000 people dead. I do believe that if our government had acted fast, we wouldn’t be where we are today, and the number of casualties wouldn’t be so high up.

Camillo: I mean, so far, our schools here are online. It’s rumored that in March we will be physically back, but I don’t really think that’s going to be until students can be vaccinated, because so far our teachers have been [vaccinated].  I mean, this week they had their second dose of vaccine, so. [I have struggled] because school was virtual right, and I guess personally that’s a little bit more difficult.  I’m so used to being physically there and I used to be a lot better. I noticed that I do. I will say that being online has a lot of advantages and I won’t lie. It’s nice but it’s also a little bit rougher when it comes to waking up.

Zahra: My school schedule actually isn’t that difficult because I wanted to keep it light. so the bulk of my classes are concentrated on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays and I have studio from 12 to about four-ish on those days. The rest of the classes are asynchronous so I just figure out the work on my own which I think has been one of the hardest things to do because when there’s not a teacher it’s a lot harder to keep track. but it has allowed me a lot more freedom giving me a lot more time. 

I will say an architecture major is a lot more difficult to experience hands-on learning. I have once a week in person on Fridays for hands-on learning with my studio. a lot of times that also gets canceled because it’s just a bit hectic to make that happen. but it is a good resource because that allows us to have that more personal interaction and give us access to like physical hands-on resources that you need like woodworking. aside from that, it’s definitely made things a bit easier, a little bit more accessible sometimes. It gives me a lot more time but it also takes away a big portion of like social interaction and hands-on learning.

Amira: I was actually a dual enrollment student when I was in high school, so I did go to Perimeter, which is connected to Georgia State. When Corona first hit in March 2020. We got spring break off and we couldn’t go back to class. We had to do everything online.  So since that point onward, it’s just been an all-online class. 

I usually wake up before 12 and then I just do assignments until like 8, and then I just repeat. Online classes take a lot more effort than classes in person because in-person you’re given a schedule, but online you’re not getting the schedule and you have to study things you don’t have access to while in person. So, it’s just been a lot different and a lot messier. 

You’re pretty much teaching yourself the old content. They give you the textbook. They say read this chapter. And then you come to class and you just talk about the chapter. And it’s like I only attend meetings to gain a better understanding rather than to actually learn the material. In my asynchronous classes, I just have to keep on going over it and learn it by myself. 

I don’t like it. So, in person, I’m kept on the schedule, but I guess this is also me being a freshman and getting used to college classes. While in-person, you wake up earlier, you think “oh I should go to the library and study because I’m not done with this yet” or “oh, I can ask this question about this assignment since I’m already at school.” But when you’re at home, you have to have that responsibility on yourself. 

The problem is that nothing is stopping me from going on my phone and going and getting on Twitter. And staying on it for hours and being like “Oh yeah, I have work!” So yeah, I don’t like it. I like going in person because I can ask my professor for stuff and have access to materials right there. 

I would really love it if our teachers were more lenient on deadlines because people’s lives have been affected by Covid — more than mine obviously, mine is just an inconvenience — so it would be nice if we didn’t really have as strict deadlines as we would have in person.  When deadlines hit… they hit. And some of my teachers have weird deadlines like 8:00 PM or like 12:00 PM and it’s just like, it would be nice if, like maybe they kept it consistent or like… well, this is very lenient, but maybe at the end of each exam, we have to have all of our assignments turned in. That would be nice. Or at least like if someone has to turn it in a little late, at least let them turn it in a little late because everyone has different stuff going on in their life. 

Traditions, Extracurriculars, and Socializing when Social Distancing

Tristen: Yeah, it sucks because, you know, there’s like prom and all that. I said last year I’d be hanging out with your friends in person, but that can’t happen. Maybe this is the last year some people will be seeing teachers, even if one of them really helped you out. Um, there’s just a lot of things that you miss out on, though. I’d say this year’s kind of sucked for seniors most of all.

Camillo: Yeah, so it’s really messy in a way, because in certain areas [of Puerto Rico,] it’s lacking. Well, but again, nothing has to be perfect, just not catastrophic. I kind of just accept that. And the social aspect has affected me a lot more because you go from seeing your friends daily to not seeing them. Like I only saw one of them, one time.

Giancarlo: I chose [to play] football because it was really the only exposure I would get from other people. We really did stay apart when we could, to stay safe. Also, I just really love football and have a strong passion for it, and I just couldn’t miss the season. We really stayed apart often and didn’t get close together, unless we were doing drills and playing. Any other time we had to stay separate and apart. However, I knew classes had many more kids than the football team did. So, I felt a little more comfortable going to a smaller group of people at football than a massive one at school.

Anna: Orchestra is definitely one of those classes that of course suffers when it’s online. The whole point is to play in a group and make music together. That’s actually one of my favorite things about orchestra. But now we can’t do that anymore. On some assignments, we record ourselves playing our part of the song with a click Track in our ears, so it makes sure that we’re staying on the rhythm. Then my teacher takes the tracks that we’ve recorded and puts them all together so that it kind of sounds like we’re all playing together when we’re actually not. It’s a lot less fun. And recently, we had a project where we had to make a song basically with a synthesizer.  

I wish Corona weren’t a thing, and it was safe to go back to school and just see everybody. Partly because you know I’m a senior, and I want to see everyone one last time before we all leave and, you know, say goodbye forever.

Rachel: I miss classrooms full of joy. My classrooms are silent. Sometimes I can get them to make noise. But silent classrooms are not my thing. That’s not my style. 

Vy: I remembered that a few months ago, way before Gwinnett county mandated mask-wearing for sporting events, people were not following the guidelines, like attending football games without wearing masks. I remember that I went to a football game for the yearbook when someone supposedly had covid and they did not wear a mask. It was really worrisome for me because I don’t want to catch the virus as well as spreading it to my family.

Okay so in a normal year, my family would throw a “reunion” party during Tet, a Vietnamese festival that is kind of like Chinese New Year if you will. I remember that these parties were always lively and filled with bright colors like red, yellow, and pink. However, because of the conditions we’re living in right now, my family wasn’t able to reunite with one another.  One of my uncles actually had covid recently and he had to be hospitalized. I heard that he was alarmingly underweight because of covid and it was devastating news to my family.

Amira: Well, I have been to school at most three or four times. And that was only to either pick up materials that my teacher had or just return some resource to a library. I think Georgia State they’re trying to avoid doing as much in-person stuff as possible, which makes sense.  But it sucks for opportunities such as career fairs and all that stuff you have to do on the computer, but it’s different when you go in person.  The only way you can interact with other people at Georgia State if you’re doing online classes — and I feel like this goes for any university — you would have to join a club because clubs have zoom meetings. Still, I’m not in a club, so I can’t talk to the classmates because it’s a zoom meeting and teachers have to get all the material to students in that one hour and 15 minutes time period. So, it’s pretty much been no interaction for me. 

Elizabeth:  It sucks cuz I was really looking forward to attending football games and homecoming, but at least we have graduation so that’s one thing I look forward to. It saddens me that we are missing out on opportunities, but there’s nothing we can do. It’s better to be safe. Wear your masks, kids.

Health and Safety:

Elizabeth:  Fatigue and shortness of breath took a toll on my school work. And I would sleep 10 to 13 hours a day and miss out on a lot of schoolwork. The only motivation I had was my grades, and I didn’t want them to drop, so I had to fight through everything.

Karen: I think everyone has had to adapt tremendously, from the minimal pieces of wearing masks and having hand sanitizer and gloves and sanitizing liquids and chemicals available to ensure that everyone is safe in the classrooms. It has been a shift in my job description where most of my time is now spent contact tracing.  And if a child is sick, asking if it is a symptom of coronavirus or a symptom of something else, and trying to figure those things out.  This is as well as protecting everyone who is around those individual children [and determining] who are showing symptoms for those individual adults. It is extremely time-consuming. It is extremely taxing, and it takes away from everything else that I’m supposed to be doing as an educator for the kids who are trying to have a normal school year.

Tristen: I do my best to not, like, be right on top of someone even if I stay in a little circle of friends.  Like, you don’t know if your friend’s parents have been exposed. You don’t know if their siblings have been exposed because they might be hanging out with other people. So there’s always something to be careful of.

Angelo: So I have Type 1 Diabetes and because of that I’m more likely to get sick because my immune system is weaker. But it’s always been like this during flu season, I usually don’t go out for the sake of my health.  I actually just started school this semester. Last March I wasn’t in school for the sake of my health. When my mom heard about the virus, she got scared so we decided it was better if I didn’t go to school.  I don’t like online classes but I had no choice this semester because I’ve missed so much school already.

It’s horrible.  I’m in my room 24/7 and I don’t even really see my family because I kept my distance from my parents because they both work so again it’s for the sake of my health. It’s isolating being by yourself and your mind starts to take over and you go down this rabbit hole of how long is my life going to be like this.

Rachel: So, I know people who need to be home. I know people who are on chemotherapy who applied to work at home and were denied. I know people who are caretakers of people with immunodeficiencies. I know people who themselves have immunodeficiencies. 

I know lots of people who have applied to work from home and have been denied. Out of all the people who have applied in the entire county to work from home, they accepted five people. This is public knowledge. Five people in the entire county have been accepted. But there are people who need to work from home. 

And some people need to be in school; I get that. But what I would like is for there to be teacher choice. 

There are some teachers who want to work in school, and that’s fine. But I feel like the teacher’s rights have been overlooked the whole time. Every time we ask for some help or some choice, what we get told is that we are trying “to take away parent and student rights” instead. That is my dissatisfaction. I have talked at every single board meeting since August. Every single one. It’s a lot. I have recordings. They’re on YouTube. 

Also, safe is such a relative term… I’m not too worried about myself. My sons have both had Covid. They did OK. Now I’m just paranoid that they’ll be one of the ones that have the relapse Covid, which has been terrible for the teenagers. But that’s just one of those paranoias you have. 

I’m a fairly healthy person. My husband’s a fairly healthy person. We stay fairly tight in our bubble. I don’t go out. I come to school, and then I go home. That’s what I do.  When we were home last spring, I didn’t leave the house. I went to a park once in a while to get us out of the house every so often, but that was it. I’ve actually been very careful. And I continue to stay careful; I don’t go to restaurants. I don’t go on vacation. I stay safe. I’m only exposed at school. 

But that said, I don’t think I’m one of the high-risk people. I’m not one of the people I’m most worried about. Instead, I tend to be the type of person who will fight for others before myself… if that makes sense. 

Since last year, Rachel has been using the Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) Covid-19 reports to create her own Covid-19 data sheets. She updates them daily.

… So those daily reports are what the County puts out. They’re very thorough. However, with the information spread out the way it is, it’s really hard to see any trends. It’s only a daily report which keeps everything very separated.  You can’t see how many cases there have been. There’s no aggregate amount. 

So, I would go to a board meeting, and a parent would say, “But there’s only been 300 cases,” and I’m like, “no, there are 300 cases currently at this very moment, there’s been more, but there are 300 cases now.” That’s how this reads. And I realized that people didn’t know how to look at the information, so I wanted to fix how the information was being displayed. I felt like it was too hard for people to comprehend the information in a useful way. 

I can’t take credit for the graphs themselves. Rebecca Mitchell is a friend of mine on Facebook, and she put them into graph modes. She likes data, and so she was like, “just in case people would rather see it visually, I’m just going to throw some graphs on there. Is that OK?” And I was like, “yeah, no problem.” 

And then, of course, my newest thing is to watch the comparison between the Department of Public Health and Gwinnett County because that’s new.  And then I found it really interesting to compare our numbers to what the DPH [Department of Public Health for Gwinnett] is seeing because our numbers are very different now. There are two reasons for that. One is; theoretically, GCPS is only keeping track of people in school. But the other reason is reporting is probably not that perfect. 

I find the trends interesting because they’re not always consistent. It used to be that if the new quarantined [number] was high, then in the next couple of days, you will start seeing the total quarantine go up pretty significantly. But that’s not always true now.  I don’t know why; I don’t know if we’re just pushing them right back out of total quarantine fast or what’s going on with that? And now the total quarantine that we have has gone down pretty significantly. 

[Another] trend we’ve noticed is that Mondays tend to be pretty low. So, we start the week with a pretty low quarantine number. Even when we’re in the high quarantine numbers, Mondays are always low, and then we build up through the week. And then, we had some significant growth during the holidays. After the holidays, that was just monstrous. 

I guess we should be seeing it anytime now if we’re going to, but we don’t seem to have had any ill effects from the Valentine holiday, which is good. So, I’m hoping that means that people did not go crazy on Valentine’s Day. 

That’s usually what I watch for: within a couple of weeks after a holiday. Did people decide to go out and make a day of it, or did they stay safe? Because that’s when we’re going to see more growth than other times. 

Working through Covid-19

Working on the Frontlines of Medicine

Lili: My job is to develop, monitor, and execute budgets for the division of high consequence pathogens of pathology. This basically means high lethal, viral, bacterial infections and diseases.

Well, the CDC knew well in advance what was going on probably– I want to say December, November. When it came to our attention at our level, it was probably more mid February. The CDC was already mobilizing their prepare and response team and their feeling was that this was a pandemic. I was very nervous because I have never experienced a pandemic, I have only read about it.

I was [initially] concerned because it was a fear of the unknown, didn’t know what was going to happen. Were we all going to be stuck at home? Were we going to be able to work? What were we going to do to contribute to the response?  In the beginning of March, when they were declaring it a pandemic. We were preparing to shut everything down and work from home. [The greatest concern for the CDC was]: Did we have the infrastructure for all of us to 100% work from home?

We thought this was going to be quick, that we would be back to work by summer last year. But then when we got more cases in the United States and there was not a vaccine ready for it, we started preparing ourselves for an indefinite amount of time from working from home.

I wish we had more time to prepare.  I think– I wish we would have had more support from the previous Administration. 

Well since I worked on the response, there was a lot more hands-on with the budget. Making sure that we were utilizing those funds properly, so we could get it out to the people who needed it at the state and local health departments. This would then help with contact tracing, know with the vaccines, and just know with diagnosing covid.  [Before Covid,] we worked with Ebola, Zeka, Anthrax, Poxvirus, and rabies. We still do our regular work plus covid.

It’s a lot easier working from home because I don’t have to deal with traffic and getting up. Also, there is a lot more visibility and a lot more work to do. Since, I am responsible for making sure that we are spending the people’s money correctly there is a lot more stress, especially when it comes to funds we are now getting from Congress and the PPP.  The PPP is the paycheck protection program.

Selene: Okay, I work at a senior care facility, and they’ve been cutting hours lately so people who are scheduled for hours can come in but they’ll have to work short days and there’s always the issue of things like PPE. It’s been… “fun”.  I work in this healthcare-type setting and in public, there are always a couple of people I see with their masks down and I’m like, “Ma’am… I work with seniors, like please put your mask on.”

Michael: As a resident physician, my schedule varies month to month. Some months I work a lot in the clinic, mostly taking care of patients’ chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. Other months, I work a lot in the hospital, mostly taking care of patients’ acute problems like stroke, pancreatitis, pneumonia, COVID, etc.

I remember the first patient I took care of in the hospital with COVID– we didn’t know he had COVID at first. This was early in the outbreak; patients were still allowed visitors and it took a week or more for COVID test results to come back. For the first few days, his condition was stable and he even felt like he was getting better. Unfortunately, his breathing and oxygen levels deteriorated steadily from there and he ended up dying in the intensive care unit within a week. That’s the thing about COVID, it’s very unpredictable. It affects everyone differently and can take a turn for the worse without much warning. Everything felt chaotic in those early months. Now the care of COVID patients is regimented. We have a better idea of what treatments work.

A lot of how I interact with patients has changed. Before the pandemic, not shaking a patient’s hand upon first meeting them might be interpreted as disrespectful. Now, shaking hands is considered unsafe. It’s also sometimes more difficult to connect with patients. Body language is important when it comes to establishing trust and rapport with patients. Now I can’t see most of their faces and they can’t see mine. Specifically, in the hospital setting, it’s sometimes more difficult to take care of noncommunicative patients because there are no visitors allowed. That means their loved one is not there to advocate for them or provide me with an accurate medical history. My only communication with families is over the phone, which is not always ideal. Also, whereas before the pandemic, all my patient interactions would be in person, now my visits with patients at the clinic might be in person or via telehealth–meaning over the telephone or webcam. I generally like telehealth visits. They make the follow-up for chronic conditions like high blood pressure easier for me and the patient. They also allow me to see patients with COVID symptoms, like a runny nose or sore throat, more safely.

Ameena: I work in the hospital setting and we have an ICU for stroke patients and people who have brain tumors and any brain problems. We do EEG tests and monitor them before and after surgery. Plus we have epilepsy monitoring where we monitor epilepsy patients who have seizure problems. If they are a good candidate for surgery, the team of doctors work to diagnose them. I am also part of the intracranial brain surgery team and I assist with the trajectory in the surgeries. 

So before the pandemic, we had the epilepsy monitoring open. That had been stopped because we had an overflow of covid patients and we had no room for the epilepsy patients. so before the pandemic, we had five or six people working, now in the pandemic we had no epilepsy patients coming in. We had only ICU patients so we had only two-three people in a shift working.

In the beginning, I was scared because everything was not known and we did not have enough knowledge. We learned to wear proper PPE and took care of donning and Doffing of the PPE correctly and washing our hands and using sanitizers when needed and all those things helped me to calm down. There are patients who are under investigation because we don’t know if they have covid or not, but I’m okay with that now. Ultimately patient care is important for us and whatever needs to be done needs to be done correctly. I feel proud that I was part of the team that takes care of covid patients if they’re having any seizures or not. I make sure that I wear all the PPE equipment correctly and take care of the patients safely.

Michael: The pandemic drastically reduced the number of patients I saw in the outpatient clinic setting for several months as people (rightfully so) were worried about going out in public–especially to medical facilities. Also, there were instances when patients waited longer than they should have before coming to the hospital because they were afraid of the virus. Unfortunately, that sometimes meant the patient had a longer and more complicated recovery. Now that things have normalized and telemedicine is an option, I see the same number of patients–if not more–than I did pre-COVID.

Ameena: They changed our schedule 180 degrees sometimes. I was thrown into the night shift because I didn’t have hours and they needed someone. Still today, we don’t have a permanent schedule like before the pandemic. They send us to different hospitals to work to make up our hours and to fulfill the need. We are very short-staffed the whole day. We used our PTO to complete our hours. There have been difficult challenges and we are part of a team so we’re just hanging in there. Everybody in the department was doing 40 hours now they’re doing 36 hours so everybody’s 4 hours cut so then we are going to different hospitals to cover the shift and in the clinic. 

Working on the Frontlines of the Service Industry

Mya: As far as COVID goes, we haven’t really been affected work-wise, but there’s a lot of people who come in like without a mask or they’ll have some pitiful excuse for a mask, like they’ll put their shirt over their nose and stuff. We have a sign that tells people to wear a mask but then they come into our store without a mask, and yet none of my managers tell them to wear a mask so it’s like my job isn’t really taking it seriously as they should be. 

Amira: Well, I also have a job at Little Caesars. I work part-time on the weekends.  When March 2020 happened and people were starting to get scared of Covid and began buying toilet papers and a whole bunch of food because they were scared they were going to be trapped in their house, nobody came to Little Caesars. 

On Fridays, it’s usually busy as hell. Everyone’s coming in, coming out, and we usually expect high fills to balance out the lower sales from the weekdays, but since no one came, there were clearly losses for the store. Because of these losses, I got my hours cut. I would work like an hour or around 2 hours or less each day because no one was coming. But now it seems like more people are less afraid, but my hours are still cut. So, dealing with that and dealing with the risk of getting Covid because I do have a part-time job is just… it’s not cool. 

I use my part-time job money for rent which I have to pay to my parents, car insurance, my cell phone bill, my gas, and anything else that I want. Before Covid, I made around $250 biweekly. But now since Covid hit, I lost $50 and I only make around $200. So that puts me really close to like almost having my expenses equal the amount that I get from work. But my situation is still a lot better than other people’s. 

Finding Work in a Quarantine

Zahra: I started my job actually during covid season so I didn’t work it before but the position itself was a remote position. It was always meant to be a remote position, but I also think I got the job because of covid-19. The company does graphic design and website development appealing to the virtual atmosphere. So the person I work for is a freelance graphic designer and needed more help because she has more clients for website design and graphic design branding and stuff. We do weekly meetings with her which are all virtual and I’ve learned how to use a lot of digital tools that are available on the internet for organization access.

Muna: I work at Publix right now as a cashier, I applied around May of last year, kind of when COVID was really getting serious. And I’d been applying a lot beforehand and didn’t get any calls back, but I think since quarantine, or at least since the beginning of it, they were in need of workers since it’s a grocery store and they were- it was busy almost every day.  So I got a call immediately, like a day or two after I submitted the application. They processed my stuff really quickly and by the end of that, two or three days after, I submitted my application and I was already working. I think at the beginning of the quarantine places that required essential workers like grocery stores, like retail stores, they were in need. But I think now it’s probably a lot harder to find a job because I guess the need for them is coming down a bit and they’ve already hired so many people towards the beginning. 

Camillo: There’s definitely pros and cons when it comes to me getting a job. I was originally meant to be able to work, but thanks to Covid and all the department shut down and they weren’t giving work permits or anything, or at least, not as they used to.  They had to cut down capacity because of, like, you know, researchers and all that. Yeah, so they’ve been way too busy to give us a call or anything. 

The Mental and Emotional Toll

Feelings of Isolation

Elizabeth: The challenge I faced was a lack of motivation. Every day feels like the same day so it becomes like an endless cycle, but you have to find something to motivate you throughout the day. 

Zahra: Architecture students spend almost all their time just sitting in the studio and working.  That whole portion of spending late nights together at the studio is completely gone, so that takes away a lot from the social experience and connections and like establishing these different, like, long-lasting strong friendships and relationships that could also potentially help you in the future. 

I’m not even walking on campus and bumping into familiar faces anymore, so almost every bit of social interaction that I could’ve experienced is just gone. And that is very difficult for somebody like me who feels like they learn the most through social interaction.

Camilo: It’s been a lot of ups and downs, really.  Because in certain ways it did allow me to focus on myself and focus on my own mental health and my own physical health as well. But it also brought in some new problems, as in like the loneliness from not being with my friends all that often.  

I guess I’ve always been a bit more strained [with my family] as well. We never really had the best relationship and being stuck together like this isn’t really the best thing either. Yeah. Yeah, it’s I mean, it’s hectic, I don’t like how it is hectic and it’s really- it’s chaotic in a way.

Rachel: I think this is a pattern that teachers have. And I’ve been teaching for 18 years, so I’ve seen this cycle happen a lot, right? 

We think we’ve got it and we figure things out. Then something new is given to us that is very difficult. And the teachers that tend to have the ability to adjust are the teachers that tend to stay. I’ve been able to do this for 18 years because, every time they give me something more, I can eventually get to a place to adjust.  That said, it doesn’t normally take me 6 months and it did [this time]. This time I was very stressed. I was working till 9 or 10 at night every night and barely making it. 

I’m not going to say that this is my best year teaching. I just sort of had to accept that on any given day, I’m sitting on a chair and talking between a screen in a classroom… and that’s not good teaching in my standards. I feel like I should be interacting with my students on a real level, but I don’t feel like I’m doing that, and I don’t feel like I’m getting to know my students like I normally do. 

Because I normally know more about my students. I usually know things about their families, about their daily lives, about what’s going on with them at home, and their activities, and the things that they care about. 

And I don’t this year. Having to accept that I’m not getting to be a great teacher this year has been one of the struggles. One of the other struggles has been just the sheer workload it takes to figure out how to teach two different groups at the same time and try to still make it a cohesive lesson.

Definitely, at the beginning of the school year, I struggled. We got a week to try to figure out how to teach digitally. And then we were told that we weren’t teaching digitally.  And that we were going to teach concurrently at the same time, so that was a lot to adjust to all of the sudden and there’s no way to do that well.  … And I’m a perfectionist, so that’s not easy for me.  

I would not want to do this as my career — this type of teaching — because, again, I miss joyful classes. That’s the kind of class I like to have:  I like interaction and I like the buzz. So satisfied is not the right word. I have found a flow that is survivable. I am no longer drowning.

Dayna:  I am very much looking forward to going back to work safely because I miss interactions with my coworkers; I miss the interactions with my children. 

I do miss, you know, just getting up and going to work, getting dressed — like I find myself wearing sweats and you know leggings all the time and it’s like I wish — I’m just, you know, I’m ready to dig back in my closet and get back to work. So, I am looking forward to it as long as we’re all safe. And what I think’s going to happen is that most of the adults will come back before the kids will come back, so that’ll probably give me a little bit more normalcy, in that sense. 

I consider the kids at school all my “children.”  I know and I’ve watched so many of the children go from like kindergarten to where they’re in high school now, so I feel like they’re my children because I’ve been there for so long. They know me and their parents know me, and I’ve built relationships with so many of them that, even the ones that I don’t interact with too much, they’re all my “children.” I just miss the interactions in the hallway like, “hey, put that down,” “don’t do that,” “give me that,” “I didn’t see you yesterday, where were you?” I just miss those genuine interactions. 

Coping with a Changed World

Rachel: I’ve had to sort of start drawing those lines between, I’ve got to start leaving work at work and going home and not taking work home. But that’s been a hard line to draw this year because of the sheer amount of work that needed to be done. I’m slowly finally getting back to where I can do that and that helps a lot. 

I love to sew so I started bringing sewing back into my life and because I had dropped that. I play video games and I had stopped doing that too. I’m basically a nerd in most ways you can be a nerd. So, you know, I just started trying to bring my hobbies back and spending time with my kid. That’s one of the things that I’m really good with. And we adopted another son, so I was making sure I made time with him too. 

Zahra: Quarantine was also a huge rebuilding time for me. I remember when it first began I told myself that a lot of people are going to use this time to sit back, relax, take some space- you know things like that- and I wanted that to be what it was for me too, but I wanted it to be more. I kind of restored my mental health to the best it’s been in a while because I finally had a break. I had breathing room to rebuild myself to be somebody who could handle a lot more than I was able to before. 

I take care of myself a lot better. I make time to work out. I don’t sacrifice my mental well-being for school, for anybody. I feel more focused and more ready to take on whatever is coming my way because of that rebuilding time. I also have never felt so close to my family. It’s like they’re my biggest support system and it took quarantine for me to fully understand and realize how much they supported me when I wasn’t in my best mental state. 

Elizabeth: In the beginning, my mental health wasn’t doing so good so I went on a mental health journey; I am back to square one again. I got to grow as a person cause I had more time to focus on my mental health and improve that. It was a journey of self-improvement.

Dayna: I would say I’ve been able to interact [with my daughter] more than I usually would, just because we are, you know, in the same space and I can pop into her room and see what she’s doing or she will come in here to see what I’m doing. 

It kind of gave me like a better understanding of how she’s getting through this virtual learning and we’ve had several conversations about it and it seems like it’s definitely different for her — but she’s not ready to go back to in-person school, so she’s definitely liking being at home, I think. But I think we all kind of miss bits and pieces of it, and I guess it just depends on who you ask to determine what they missed the most. 

[I started] the daily practice of either exercise or meditation. I try to do that before I get on the computer and it might not be long, but just long enough for me to, you know, kind of center myself in my work, and that came from me being in one of my colleague’s classrooms. She has a morning meditation minute before they get started. And it felt good to just kind of be somewhere, but be somewhere else and just, you know, kind of center in. 

Also, I routinely check in on myself and tell myself things like, “OK you’ve been in front of the screen for this long, take a break.” Or I like my morning routines, as far as what I am eating in the morning, when am I eating, etc. So Those routines will definitely carry through. 

Covid in Other Communities

Camillo:  I guess it was a cultural shock.  Puerto Rico has really strict guidelines like curfew and all that, although in some areas it’s not really all that forced.  Then like over here in America, I stay in the States, and people are really proud of their freedom and their right to things. So what ends up happening is people are just over the top with it. And it’s like, but we need to do this to be safe. 

It’s really a weird situation because I will say that the guidelines here are mostly enforced by the business owners, not the government or police. [If you aren’t following the guidelines,] the police are kind of mad about it, but it really depends on how much of a jackass you want to be, because sometimes they stop absolutely nothing. 

We haven’t really seen police patrolling or anything, so it doesn’t feel like martial law. Pretty much, it just feels like, OK, I know I have to do this, but it’s not like I’m being straight up forced to do it.

Aaron: [In prison] they started the passing out masks, canceled all visitations so that meant no religious people could come into talk, no education for the inmates wanting to get their GED.

Of course, I was worried about my mom, sister, and little brother. And all of our tías and just the whole family. It was scary because in the common area they have TVs, so we can see the news and I just saw the numbers getting higher and it freaked me out. 

So for myself I actually got COVID-19, and it was 17 days that I couldn’t taste anything but it wasn’t bad enough for them to take me to the hospital.  To be honest [there was] a lot of injustice.  Some of the officers caught the virus and some of us work in the kitchen as a job, me being one of them. But it’s so messed up because they had the virus and still came into the kitchen to watch over us and I think that’s where I caught it.  It’s not like I can go out.

[When isolating,] we have this place that’s called the hole and that’s where they put you away from everyone. You know when you’re in there they bring you food but it’s just so isolated. There was this old man in the cell next to me and oh man he had it so much worse. He is really old and he needed to go to the hospital but the officers just ignored his cries for help. And you know since he’s old he can’t get up to use the restroom himself, so they would leave him naked there on the toilet and he would scream from them to come back and nothing… they would do nothing. 

I lost my dad and had to say goodbye over FaceTime.  His voice breaks. I would have never thought my dad would die while I was in here; I never wanted that. Then my older brother was in the hospital and I remember my mom calling me saying they didn’t think he was going to make it and that was so hard to hear. To lose my dad and brother, I couldn’t handle it. Then my mom caught it and my step-dad was going to take her to the hospital.  They decided not to but that was still rough so you know I also was having to worry about losing my mom. 

Other than seeing my dad die while on FaceTime, the second hardest thing was hearing I couldn’t go to the funeral to get a proper goodbye. When there wasn’t the pandemic, [an inmate] could go [to a funeral] because the jail allows you to. But because of the pandemic they said no, and that it is also for the safety of the rest of the inmates. 

Sonia: Well, New York at the [start of the pandemic] was just on the rise with cases and as someone who is older it was scary.  I’m home a lot now and it’s not something I enjoy. I was so used to going to the mall every day to walk around as exercise with my friend Teresa. You know me and Teresa would be out all day going to church going to the city to try new places and go to the market. But it was definitely a change in pace.  I feel a little more at peace with more and more people getting the vaccine but it’s still scary, especially living in New York. People also aren’t taking it seriously enough; they think with the vaccines that everything is okay and nothing is going to happen. But that’s just not true because there are still so many unknowns. 

Finding Light in a Changed World

Rachel:  I mean there are good things and bad things. My knowledge of certain things has grown. I love Google Classroom in and of itself and I think that I’ve gained knowledge that I will continue to use no matter what. I’ve met groups of people in terms of teaching that I might not have met otherwise, and I’ll like those people a lot and I’m glad to be a part of these groups. So that’s a good thing too. You know, there are things that have been good that have come out of it. 

Elizabeth: The bright side of Covid was that I got to experiment with the artistic side of me through the different mediums of Art. I got to grow as a person because I had more time to focus on my mental health and improve that. It was a journey of self-improvement. 

Michael: In my personal life, like everyone else, visiting family and friends and traveling are the things I miss most.  I wish things were back to normal, but I’m happy with my life right now. I feel very fortunate that my spouse and I have been able to keep our jobs during the pandemic and that our family and friends have stayed healthy.

Ameena: It has made me a more patient person. Before I was rushing in my life all the time and not living in the moment of my life. Now, I’m more, you know, present in the situation I’m not running around just finishing a job. And I’m very thankful for the job that I have still and I can still take care of my family with my earnings, so I’m very thankful and I’m very grateful. And plus I have started self-reflecting, learning other things, like reading materials on nerve conduction, going to the gym, praying more, trying new healthy dishes. I am trying to improve myself and I’m trying to work with the short staff we have. I spend a lot of time with my family and I am grateful for getting to spend quality time with my children.

Zahra:  I decided quarantine was the perfect time to rebuild myself, rebuild habits, so I want to include fix my sleep schedule, fix my workout schedule, fix my eating habits, fix my cleaning habits. I became super actively involved in my household, helping my mom every single day in the kitchen. I redid my entire room, started journaling, started working out every day, ate very clean meals and started drinking a lot of water, started stretching, yoga, meditation. I became very regular in my religious practices.

As far as new hobbies go, I realize I enjoy being outdoors a lot and I enjoy just spending time at parks,  painting, picnics, things that I never realized how much I would love and enjoy. I re-realized my love for music and I also discovered the Marvel movies and watched them for the very first time and became obsessed with them. I was able to fully immerse my passions through the camp, discovered a lot of music, rediscovered my love of going on drives. It was just a very peaceful time in my life to rediscover self-care.

Aaron: [I’ve learned] that you can’t blame yourself for things out of your control. When my dad passed I hated myself because I kept thinking “Aaron if you just hadn’t been so dumb to commit a crime, you could have been able to say goodbye to your dad!” But I can’t think like that because if I kept at it like that I don’t think I would be here. Also, the tough times don’t last, and that those darks times are what can break you but also build you. 

Chandler:  My original wedding date was March 28th of 2020 and we still got married on that day, but not the way we were supposed to. We were able to redo the wedding the way it was supposed to be in March, on July 11th of 2020. The original wedding was supposed to be in Dublin, Georgia at First Baptist Church with 425 people. Shoot me. I don’t know why in the world we had that many people on the guest list, but when covid did its thing, it was about March 12th,13th, or 14th of last year. We had to cut from 425 down to 50, and then from 50 to 10 or fewer.  

We decided to elope or something like eloping and we actually got married in Toccoa, Georgia where my husband and I met while we were in middle school.  It was only the two of us, my parents, my brother, the pastor, his wife, and our photographer. So seven people total. [If Covid hadn’t happened] I wouldn’t have wanted it any different from the way it was. 

I was pumped in retrospect, but not the day of.  I think I was saying ‘this is not how it’s supposed to be.’  But who gets to say they get to marry their best friend twice. Then on top of that there are some things that we did differently. So for instance, we were not planning on doing personal vows. We were going to just do traditional ones since we were having such a large wedding. We just felt like it would have been too personal to have 425 people in the middle of those personal kinds of statements. But since we eloped with only seven people we wrote personal vows, so that was a special part of the elopement versus the wedding when the wedding actually happened in July. It was much more relaxed for us. We could actually enjoy it with our friends, be with our family, and not be as stressed or as nervous. There were no Jitters. It’s like we’ve been married for four months. We’re just doing it all again. It was so much easier to enjoy the second wedding because we already had the first one. 

Looking to the Future

Lili: [Once more people have the vaccine,] I think we will be closer to normal– but no we are not near normal anytime soon. 

Camilo: I mean, I kind of hope for being able to hang out somewhere and not feel so scared in a way.  I at least have my hopes and my optimism that soon enough it’ll be over.  That each day passing we’re one day closer to just reaching the end of this whole thing.

Elizabeth: I think I could go back to the way life was before because life is all about adapting and adapting to change. Before the pandemic happened life was pretty normal to us and then we had to adapt to the new stuff and everything so that became our new normal. I think I can adapt again- it’ll be hard, but I think I could make adjustments to fit into a different lifestyle.

Zahra:  There is no such thing as going back to life pre-Covid. Life is just about adjusting to the new normal and that’s what we’re gonna have to do this time as well. It’s about figuring out what is normal for us now. Does that mean still wearing masks out in public for at least another few years? Does that mean after we develop herd immunity that we storm the streets and we’re going out and having a good time and where everything’s like poppin’ there’s a lot of social interaction? A lot of like parties, a lot of it like the roaring 20s again where everybody’s out and about and going out and having a good time? Like I think that’s what the next step is, it’s just adjusting to the new normal.

For me, I think it’s about understanding that we have responsibilities to attend to and we have work to do, but that’s always going to be there.  So I think people are going to find this new adrenaline rush for living life to its fullest: interacting with others, going out, having a good time, doing spontaneous, fun things. I think life is just going to be about embracing the now and meeting people and just enjoying as much as they can. Maybe more festivals, maybe more grand events, and things like that where people can meet up, dress up, go out, have fun. And a whole lot of travel; you best believe I will travel.