By: Gabriella Goldberg
Ever since Mr. Smith made the announcement about school closing until what was supposed to be after spring break, the students at Ramapo’s lives were forever changed. In the final years of Generation Z’s life, they will be retelling their experience during this global pandemic. They’ll tell their children and grandchildren about their loved ones who suffered with the Coronavirus, they’ll explain how they had to quarantine and sanitize every little surface, including the groceries. They’ll explain the emotional hardship they faced as a country, and as a teenager. One day, Generation Z will be the ones saying, “back in my day.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has taken 216,025 American lives as of October 15. The highest percentage of mortality has been seen in adults between the ages 25-44 and those of a Hispanic or Latino background, which can be explained by discrimination in healthcare, hesitation to seek care due to insurance issues, lack of transportation, lack of childcare services, and government distrust, higher chance of exposure to COVID-19 due to essential jobs, wealth and income gaps, and crowded living conditions. The Coronavirus seems to be highlighting the racial divide that exists within the United States, mostly affecting African Americans’ and Latinos’ mortality rates. Scientists and doctors are trying their best to find a cure or vaccine and develop new treatment (CDC).
More specifically, research is currently being conducted to improve hospital equipment and find a vaccine for the Coronavirus. For instance, Johns Hopkins University is developing a robotic controlled ventilator that would allow nurses and doctors to tend to their patient from afar, which would save protective gear, limit exposure, and leave more time for the treatment. Supplying hospitals with the proper equipment that would protect both staff and patients was a challenge due to the rate at which the pandemic escalated and the unpreparedness the United States struggled with. There simply was too high a demand for supplies, such as masks and face shields, than factories were able to provide.
Another study at Johns Hopkins University discovered that the “‘hook’ of cells used by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to latch onto and infect cells is up to 700 times more prevalent in the olfactory supporting cells lining the inside of the upper part of the nose than in the lining cells of the rest of the nose and windpipe that leads to the lungs” (Hopkins Medicine 1). This research advancement could explain the reasoning behind the loss of smell symptom, as these “supporting cells” are responsible for sense of smell. This could also lead scientists to find the best spot for either a topical or local antiviral treatment.
COVID-19 has not only existed strictly as a health issue, it has become a major topic in current politics. With the presidential election quickly approaching, President Trump and Joe Biden have set forth their own plan regarding COVID-19. President Trump’s first course of action in January was to ban foreign entry, starting with China, which was ineffective due to the high rate of transmission within the United States. Trump lacked the urgency to properly handle the situation and administer more tests and contract tests, so the spread of the virus continued to escalate. Trump also minimized COVID-19, especially when the White House issued a stay at home order and social distancing rules, in his Tweet on March 22 that read, “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. At the end of the 15 day period, we will make a decision as to which way we want to go!” Trump also publicly encouraged the reopening of schools and public places despite the well known fact that COVID-19 was rapidly spreading throughout the country. Trump has Tweeted the following false statements: “But I think what happens is it’s going to go away. This is going to go away” on April 28, “I think we’re gonna be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point that’s going to sort of just disappear. I hope,” on July 19, and “It’s going away. Like things go away. No question in my mind that it will go away, hopefully sooner rather than later” on August 5. The nonchalant approach of President Trump caused some to agree with him even though proven statistics show that COVID-19 is indeed dangerous and spreading. Trump’s statements have also conflicted with the advice of public health officials and the Center for Disease Control. For example, he promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 even though public health officials have said not to, he also questioned whether injecting disinfectant into the body is beneficial, he explained the rise in COVID-19 cases to be a cause of increased testing when that has been proven false, and makes statements that contradict the scientific evidence that masks are effective. He even made fun of Joe Biden’s dedication to wearing masks at the presidential debate when he said, “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen” (“In His Own Words, Trump on the Coronavirus and Masks,” The New York Times). Trump has created a COVID-19 Task Force, but its activity has almost completely stopped. He has also signed four emergency spending bills to help with COVID-19 and offer relief to suffering businesses and individuals as a result of this pandemic. He also used the Defense Production Act to use whatever necessary supplies to help grow production and allocate resources that are needed for the Coronavirus. Regarding Trump’s campaign and future plans for COVID-19, he has promised to “develop a vaccine by the end of 2020,” “return to normal in 2021,” “make all critical medicines and supplies for healthcare workers in the United States,” and “refill stockpiles and prepare for future pandemics” (“Comparing Trump and Biden on COVID-19”).
Presidential candidate Joe Biden has experience with pandemics through his time as Vice President during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and 2016 Zika outbreak. The Obama Administration created the “Global Health Security Agenda” that works towards keeping the world safe from public health threats and the Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense at the National Security Council, which establishes the government’s pandemic response plan. Biden’s plan consists of a “wide availability of free testing,” “development of a vaccine,” “the elimination of all cost barriers to preventive care and treatment for COVID-19,” “full deployment and operation of necessary supplies, personnel, and facilities.” He also plans to help families and small businesses affected by COVID-19 as well as a paid emergency leave, which will require economic changes. Biden wants to “spend whatever it takes, without delay, to meet public health needs and deal with the mounting economic consequences.” Biden is honest and open about his plans as President and vows to help those struggling as a result of this pandemic. Biden has also followed social distancing guidelines and continues to wear a face mask to do his part in stopping the spread of Coronavirus (The Biden Plan to Comat Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Prepare For Future Global Health Threats).
The picture above depicts an individual suffering from the Coronavirus who is on a ventilator, which means he has little chance for survival (Photo Courtesy of Business Insider).
The entire world has been affected, from every city to every individual. Ramapo junior, Madison Elliott, suffers from asthma and lives in fear of contracting the Coronavirus every day. In response to how she feels about going out in public and potentially exposing herself, Madison says, “it is a constant worry of mine because I am more susceptible to the virus and can easily get sick. If I get it, it’d be a lot worse for me because I have asthma. Even common colds are scary for me, so I can’t even imagine getting COVID.” Madison is also extremely worried for her family and their safety. Like most of the population, she has also had to quarantine for two weeks in order to visit her grandmother and has not seen her for a month and a half due to COVID-19. When asked if she had one thing she would like to tell Ramapo about COVID safety, she would say, “Wearing medically approved masks is one of the most important things you can do to help others. Social distancing is necessary. Don’t downplay the severity of the disease. Those who go to parties think they are invincible, but they’re not. This is a virus that kills people. Grow up!”
All in all, the Coronavirus is deadly. Refusing to take the necessary health precautions, like not wearing masks, can infect strangers and make them fatally sick. As the current saying goes, “this is unprecedented times” and each day should be approached with gratitude for simply living.