Being a College Student in California Amid the Coronavirus

By Anna Sharudenko on March 16, 2020

The situation in California:

I am finishing up my second year at a community college (CC) in California and soon transferring to an unknown institution. In fact, I will know where I am transferring to in a couple of weeks. This is my last semester and I was supposed to graduate and stroll across the podium with an Associates’ degree. This will most likely not happen.

My community college closed a couple of days ago. The majority of the classes were canceled, and now, we are all online. We are all tackling Zoom and Skype, and fully indulging in sitting at home in pajamas pretending that we are paying attention to the online lectures. I am also a President of the English Club at my CC and I am afraid that we had our first and last meeting of the semester a week ago. Some people started wearing masks and gloves. My family and I are one of these people. Toilet paper, paper towels, all canned goods, pizzas, and water are gone. Everywhere. In all stores.

I recently went to Ralph’s to buy food for my family to survive. A lady took a picture of me in my mask and gloves. Two other men laughed at me. A friend of mine went grocery shopping too and said that there are evil people running around and breathing at you in intimidatingly close contact. They violate your space and your safety to convince themselves that everything is fine when it’s not.

The Los Angeles Unified School District and many other school districts (there are more than a dozen to list) closed all of its schools. The whole Los Angeles Community College District closed all of its campuses. UCLA, USC, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, LMU, UCSD, Pepperdine, CSLA, CSUN, Chapman and many more closed — and this is only in California. Nobody knows when we are going to reopen.

The situation is getting out of control. Amazon now sells toilet paper for $40 per one roll. People are hoarding everything they can get their hands on, yet at the same time, they are not wearing masks, not washing their hands, and not wearing gloves. They cough and sneeze without covering their mouths. The lines in grocery stores are very long and people are crowded together. I stood in a line for more than an hour.

Yes, there is panic. There is chaos. There is hysteria. But there are also people who are hiding under the shield of fatalism. There are people who are buying tickets to Europe for April and May because they all dropped in prices. Others are scared and they have good reasons to be.

Italy:

I want to give an overview of Italy and its current situation with COVID-19. I know not everyone likes to read the newest articles on Coronavirus, hence I will sum it up. What’s happening there can easily happen in the United States because it’s already happening — just in lesser quantities. It will increase if you want because we have a higher — a much higher — population and our population is also very dense.

As we now know, the United States placed a travel ban on Europe, UK, and Ireland. Italy has almost 25,000 cases of Coronavirus and 1,800+ deaths. While the fatality rate from COVID-19 is 3-5%, Italy’s rate is around 7% because Italy is considered “an old lady” and people above the age of 60 are more prone to get COVID-19. People with underlying conditions such as asthma, diabetes, obesity, allergies, high blood pressure and people who are immunocompromised (like people who had cancer, who had organ transplants, HIV, or are pregnant) are all on Coronavirus’s radar.

Italy is on lockdown. Intensive care treatments are being done in corridors. Schools, universities, cinemas, bars, and theaters are closed. Only one person is allowed to leave home quarantine to buy groceries. Everyone must also have a permit to be outside or else you will be fined 400 euros.

The Switzerland-Italy border is closed.

What are the effects of Coronavirus:

  1. A COVID-19 driven recession will rock both Europe and the U.S. All travel to Europe will be stopped for a while. Because one of Europe’s main industries is tourism, the financial crisis will soon knock on everyone’s door.

  2. People are starting to lose their jobs because companies are closing.

  3. The new American Congress emergency Coronavirus Bill provides free COVID-19 testing and paid leave (only 60% of your original wages) for those who were affected by COVID-19 (but only if you work in a company with fewer than 500 employees).

  4. Currently, the U.K is considering using the tactic of herd immunity, which relies on the spread of the highly contagious disease throughout the population. This will be highly dangerous because we don’t have a vaccine for COVID-19 and it has the chance of being detrimental to everyone who is immunocompromised.

  5. Despite a small mortality rate, COVID-19 often leads to the inflammation of the lungs, meaning pneumonia. It causes shortness of breath and trouble breathing. Many need a ventilator to help them breathe because oxygen and carbon dioxide no longer efficiently move in and out of the lungs and into the blood. All of this may lead to a septic shock and your blood pressure may drop dangerously low. Lungs may fail and your heart will stop working.

  6. Because the virus affects everyone differently, you may also become a carrier and be asymptomatic. These people are the drivers of community spread.

The situation is getting out of hand. A lot of people put a stop in their lives in Los Angeles. Most of my friends and I are quarantined at home. We don’t know when we are going to return back to normal or when we will see each other again. I wanted to write this to emphasize that COVID-19 is not a joke. Even if you battle the virus, you will be suffering from many health consequences. It is not funny to run up to strangers and breathe or cough in their faces or not wear a mask when you are sick. It is not funny to illegally take pictures of people who are protecting themselves and their families. It is not funny to be ignorant and delusional. I hope that my next update will contain good news.

I say what I say. I know that I know nothing but despite the burden of uncertainty, I like to live, to read, to write, and to marvel mathematics. I like to have fun. I am also a Cynic with some Stoicism flowing through my veins, a double major in English & Applied Mathematics, an introverted extrovert, a lover of philosophy, and someone who may question her existence, reality, your existence, the concept of time, and the good and the bad. Overall though, I am pretty chill.

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