When I first heard about the coronavirus, I thought back to an exaggerated meteorology report in the winter. I heard the commotion of my town, “it will snow 2 feet, the schools will be closed, the roads will be dangerous to drive on!” Watching the parking lot fill up at my local grocery store made me realize I should stock up before the big storm that was predicted. With my fridge now full and snow shovel and rock salt ready for duty by my front door, I go to bed dreading the fact that I must wake up early to shovel out my car to go to work.
After a night of restless sleep, I peek through the blinds with expectations of seeing icicles hanging from the window, and tree limbs sagging downward from the weight of all the snow. Despite those assumptions, it appeared that there was no more than possibly 2 inches of snowfall. Promptly, I realized the uproar of fear was aimless and that it was probably a slow news day. The news coverage became minimal after that, and the town carried on unaffected from Mother Nature’s dusting. I remember the feeling of relief that this so-called “catastrophe” of a storm developed into nothing. I wish I could be experiencing déjà vu right now, but unfortunately, I was part of the large majority who didn’t recognize the coronavirus as the worldwide pandemic it has become.
My disadvantages of not preparing for COVID-19 have set me back extraordinarily. I’ve scoured every supermarket for produce, toilet paper, cleaning supplies and instead been greeted by scratched metal shelving empty for the whole aisle. Living independently, I have been a one-man operation since I reached self-sufficiency. Now I’m in the unfortunate position of relying on aid from others for those basic necessities. This makes me feel defeated in a way, for being irresponsible. I’m left with the cleaning supplies I had before this pandemic started, which is currently the equivalent of gold, considering how sparse they are to obtain. I feel more vulnerable going out to seek food because I understand how quickly a grocery store can become an epicenter for the coronavirus to spread.
My state, New Jersey, has closed all non-essential businesses in an attempt to eradicate contamination of COVID-19. I felt fortunate at first to be employed at an essential business despite my hours being cut by half because of this outbreak making business slower. After partaking in one work shift after the lockdown efforts, my optimism turned sour. New protocols involving a heavy disinfecting process, maximum occupancy limit, and physical barriers to assure a 6 foot distancing limit between staff and customers elevated my fear. While I’m happy to be at a health conscious company, these changes have shown me how easy it can be to acquire the coronavirus.
Being in a position where my rent, utilities, food and transportation are reliant on my income, I’m struggling to afford them with a paycheck half what it usually is. This has created anxiety for me. Granted I do not have the confidence to say that I will be able to make the necessary due dates. I’ve heard of relief fund efforts being discussed within the government and that certain bills cannot get held against me while the world is fighting this pandemic.
At this point in time though, there is nothing set in stone and these decisions and details are still being examined. The ambiguity of the situation causes me to get in an apprehensive mindset. Previously being in the foster care system, I’m too acquainted with situations that are pending an answer that can be monumental to my future.
For the past few years of living on my own successfully, I’ve followed a budget and calculated my expected income. Now with fluctuations in my work hours, it’s near impossible to follow a budget. I’m left having to decipher what is the most crucial bill over other responsibilities I have to pay.
The coronavirus has created a large dent in my basic necessities, instilled fear in me, and drastically diminished my income. Unlike the weather reports of anticipated snow I’ve previously heard, this infectious disease is far from over-exaggerated. It’s discouraging to be in quarantine constantly seeing the number of cases seem to double every day. With an uncertainty of when this will start to minimize, we are all left wondering not only how much longer society will be negatively impacted, but also if we will become one of the thousands soon to be diagnosed. This will change the course of America forever.
Ryan Parry, 21, is a saltwater reef tank technician working across New Jersey. He is enthusiastic about his skills to educate the public on the importance of reef preservation and renewal. He loves love scuba diving and when not by the water, he’s running in his neighborhood.