The COVID-19 Response from the Perspective of a Public Health Major

One month ago, there were less than 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 present in the United States. We continued with our daily lives, taking advantage of our freedom to roam our Nation when we liked and where we liked. Many of us were out on Spring Break, living it up in Miami, New York, New Orleans, and LA, ignoring the fact the world’s largest pandemic of our generation was waiting to alter life as we know it.

Fast forward to today, as I sit at home typing this article on my makeshift home office. I am in my pajamas doing all my work via distance learning. I would have never thought my senior year as a public health major would end so drastically because we did not prepare for this to happen. I had no plans to return home to Richmond, which has stripped me of all my freedom and independence in college that I oh so valued. However, in the gist of everything that is happening, I do believe us public health majors have learned a valuable lesson - our healthcare system is broken and we need to fix this matter FAST. 

Every time our dear president gets on national television, I ignore every message. Clearly he did not prepare for this either because for one, he lacks the basic knowledge needed to even hold a high official title; and two, he let this happen by ignoring the constant threat of this virus last year when it first emerged. Now we are all stuck in our homes wondering: will life ever be the same?

Well friends, I am here to tell you - it will not. In fact, a lot of problems going in our healthcare system have presented themselves to the public’s attention, so hopefully by the end of all this, the problems US public health advocates push to Congress and our state officials each and every year are solved, or at least to some extent, addressed moving forward.

A lot of our health officials are overpaid and overworked. Nurses and medical aids are pulling hours out of their asses to make sure people are safe and healthy. Our medical officials are putting their lives on the forefront as they figure out who will die next and who will live. They don’t have the right amount of PPE to fight this, hence, posing a greater risk of them contracting the virus. They are tired and their families are afraid. 

Then we have our essential workers who are usually working hourly waged jobs sacrificing themselves and their families to make sure America has everything they need. They are pulling 12 hour days just to make minimum wage or a dollar more on their paycheck so we can be selfish and splurge on unnecessary items instead of saving our money as our economy fails. They are also tired and overworked.

On the sideline, we have our college students and public education students worrying about how they will pass for the year with distance learning. Seniors aren’t graduating. Children aren’t getting the meals they need at home because their parents are being laid off. Everyone is struggling in every aspect because we took for granted what was already dooming for us sooner than we should have.

I believe that the government and the top health officials have no idea what is going. In fact, they are scrambling so hard that they keep ignoring the message at hand: keep everyone home and wait this out. No vaccine at the moment can cure this all in one day. We are all waiting for a hail mary to happen but right now it is nowhere in sight. 

So what do we do if the virus begins mutating or becomes resistant to medicine? Well, we do nothing, because if you have ever taken any type of science or microbiology course, viruses cannot be cured. They can be deactivated with the right amount of chemicals, but sooner or later it is going to mutate and we are back at square one with a whole new strain. 

I’m praying for hope like everyone else, but that is really all we can do right now folks. We have to stay at home and follow the guidelines presented to us. And trust me I know, you all miss outside and your friends and your boyfriends/girlfriends, but this is serious and must not be ignored. It’s up to all of us - everyone in the whole entire world - to do the right thing and band together by obeying the rules set out for us right now.

But trust me, we’ll be able to go outside one day for sure... just not right now.