As we enter the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic, I cannot help but reminisce about the early days of lockdown. The spring of 2020 felt like an extended spring break. There was a carefree sort of joy that came with the privilege of being able to stay at home, not to mention working or learning from the comfort of your own bed. We got really good at baking bread, picking up new hobbies, and bingeing the multitude of new content on the plethora of streaming services we pay for. Just six more weeks. Just a little more. But the pandemic wasn’t over, and it kept going, and it is still ongoing to this day. What went wrong?
The prolonged lockdowns were enough to drive even the most secluded of introverts batty. However, as the number of cases rose so did tensions. People were angry about masks. They wanted answers, treatments, and accountability from a system that was never truly in their favor. SARS-CoV2 absolutely obliterated our healthcare system, exposed and emboldened bigots who would have otherwise stayed closeted, and also managed to unearth the cracks in our already crumbling infrastructure. The United States of America is no stranger to structural inequality. This is a global crisis, but it has hit one of the ‘richest’ developed nations the hardest. And while I see the failings of the government at the federal level, the smaller issues that are closer to home are what make me infinitely more anxious.
I am burnt out. I am scared. Above all, I am tired of dealing with the seemingly endless epidemic.
I cannot even begin to imagine how exhausted doctors and essential workers must be. Hindsight only makes me resentful. I regret not taking the chances I had to party when the worst I had to worry about was deciding who would be the designated driver. I regret not traveling, not applying for that study abroad, not hanging out with my friends. Maybe a year ago I would have had hope that I could do that again without worrying about a fatal disease. Not any longer.
Looking to the future makes me equally despondent. Without the intention of sounding like a fear-mongering fool, I don’t realistically see an end to this situation without a massive overhaul happening at every bureaucratic level. Let’s be honest, change is not coming nearly fast enough. I am not prepared to be back in person for classes.
I understand that the university has taken nearly every possible measure they can. There are obviously limitations to the amount of power that a state school can exert on the student body. But I have to wonder if it will be enough. When I was a freshman, enjoying my only normal on-campus spring semester, I thrived on the sense of community found in the shared misery while battling the wintery blues. I also distinctly remember the wave of stomach flu cases, colds, and mono, that was perfectly aligned with midterms.
So I do get why people want to be back. I don’t get why that means openly flaunting safety measures. When the university cannot force people to wear masks, to truthfully attest to the fact that they have been vaccinated, or even properly socially distance themselves in classes.
We are lacking in many things, including the space and resources to keep case numbers low. What we should not lack in is the sense of accountability to keep our masks on and stop the spread. This is not an individual issue. So at this point, we must ask ourselves what we as a Spartan community can do better…and then actually do it.