🇺🇸 Reflecting on a Year with Coronavirus

Murrieta, California, USA:

It’s surreal to think that COVID-19 has been around for over a year. I remember hearing about it last December, when cases were popping up in Wuhan China. I think I felt the virus’s presence sooner than most Americans because I have family in Taiwan. When my aunt, uncle, and little cousin came to visit for Chinese New Year in February, just a month before widespread US lockdowns, my aunt spent the entire time in self-imposed quarantine. She only smiled once during her visit: when we gave her a collection of cloth masks, gifts from Taiwanese relatives that we never needed to use in the clean California air.

The reality of the virus crept closer and closer, as my high school made LA news in March for going into lockdown for a few days; apparently, a faculty member had recently visited Italy, where cases had skyrocketed. The mini-lockdown ended quickly, to be followed up the next week by another lockdown, the one I’m currently still in.

At first, I pivoted from focusing on school and extracurriculars to taking an online course called CS50. When I wasn’t coding at a computer, I took walks, exploring every nook and cranny of the neighborhood. It was an oddly idyllic lifestyle; in my SoCal exurb, I felt far away from the tragedies taking place in city centers.

It wasn’t until July that I started to feel the pressure of social isolation and the virus. With the summer heat, case numbers in my area were rising. Out of caution, I refrained from meeting my friends in-person, adding to my growing sense of isolation. My church started meeting again, this time outside and socially distanced, but my family wouldn’t attend: we were troubled by the lack of mask-compliance. As the number of COVID-19 deaths in the US passed 100,000, I felt jealous of my relatives in Taiwan. Because their country had put out stricter measures early on, they’d barely had any cases and for the most part, could return to their normal lives.

With only a month left in 2020, I’m wondering what’s next for my city, my state, and my country. The holiday season is in full swing and case numbers across the country are spiking. Despite this grim reality, I’m trying to be more hopeful about the future. As of now, three vaccines have been announced, and immunization is set to start for the military and medical workers this December. My school is tentatively offering us a hybrid option for January. And next year, our country will have a new president. Here’s to 2021!

Olivia S.

30 November 2020

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