It has been a crazy couple of weeks. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency, NC State was given an extended spring break, and all classes have been moved online. UNC System schools also postponed graduations, and nearly all students living on campus have been sent home. Throughout North Carolina, K-12 students were pulled out of schools last week and will likely not be returning to school any time soon. It may seem drastic, but this is the reality that COVID-19 has placed us in.
Many researchers who have been studying the coronavirus have advised and promoted something called social distancing. Social distancing is the act of staying inside, avoiding large gatherings, and when in a public place, staying at least six feet away from other people. The CDC has urged the U.S. government to cancel/postpone events with more than 10 people.
On March 17, Gov. Roy Cooper ordered that all restaurants and bars must be closed for dine-in services. For small towns throughout the state, this is a disaster for small and family-owned businesses. Luckily, there is a fund that business owners can apply for at this time. Cooper also expanded the unemployment application requirements for citizens to apply for at this time of need.
Recently, I’ve been seeing people my age use the coronavirus as a way to vacation and take time off. Specifically, I’m referring to a video of college students who were interviewed about their spring break plans with regard to the coronavirus.
Students interviewed in the video showed blissful apathy toward the issue. A young man named Brady Sluder said, "If I get corona, I get corona; at the end of the day, I'm not going to let it stop me from partying," showing little concern about the virus.
After the release of this interview, it went viral on Twitter because it showed the lack of consideration and urgency that Florida officials were maintaining toward this pandemic. Thanks to tons of backlash on Twitter and from the citizens of Florida, officials have taken action to close beaches and businesses.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, on Monday, March 23, all of Florida’s state parks closed. That included dozens of popular beach destinations across the state as well as beach-alternative natural springs.
With spring break in full swing, though, especially in South Florida, several cities decided to shut beach access down, as did Clearwater Beach on the Gulf Coast. Gov. Ron DeSantis enacted a shutdown of nonessential businesses in Broward and Palm Beach counties to mirror the shutdown in Miami-Dade, as these are the three most infected counties in the state. That shutdown closed the beaches.
AP News reports that Illinois, New York and California have already enacted lockdowns throughout their states to flatten the curve of this virus. “The virus has struck at the very identities of many countries,” the article writes.
COVID-19 can be asymptomatic, meaning it can spread through vectors who may not show any symptoms. Therefore, even if you don’t feel sick and want to go out in public, you may be putting others at risk, like the elderly or the immunocompromised.
While it is devastating to see such a cultural shift for many countries throughout the world, it is imperative that U.S. citizens cooperate with what the CDC recommends. It is also imperative to keep yourself informed, stay inside and practice social distancing.