A few months ago, I heard a rumor about an outbreak starting in China. Turns out, it wasn’t a rumor. It was a deadly virus that would soon plague the whole world, causing a global shutdown. I did not think too much of it until it was already way too late. Until the middle of March, it was just another event happening in the world. Nothing was to come of it, or so I thought. All it was at the moment was an internet meme of people stocking up on toilet paper before they would barricade themselves at home for a couple weeks. I thought people were being stupid completely drying out all the local stores of their toilet paper, but it turns out they were just ahead of the rest of us.
It was the last week of class at UW Stout before spring break started. I was walking to band with my friend, Devin, and we were talking about the first COVID-19 case in Wisconsin. All we knew was that someone in Madison had tested positive for the virus. It was hard to hear about how a virus that, up until that point, had been mostly foreign could make it all the way to the same state we were in. Our only knowledge at that point was that if we got through Friday, we would be safe at home the following week.
During the second half of the week, my friends and I heard about other schools closing down or moving online for a couple weeks. We did not know what would happen with our school. We thought that maybe it was a little ridiculous that schools were entirely closing all physical activities for several weeks. We never thought that would happen to Stout. We would go home for spring break, then come back the following week for class. That was our mindset.
On Wednesday, March 11th, I was in my English class working on our project that was due on Friday when the person sitting next to me spoke out to the whole class and told us that we all got an email. He was the one that told us all the news that we would not be meeting for class after spring break. After spring break, the following two weeks would be met entirely online. This came as a shock to me, and I could not believe the news. I checked my email, and sure enough it was there. We would not be meeting in person for class after break. I wondered how my teachers would change the courses around to fit with the two weeks of online learning.
Eventually I made it to Friday, and the week was done. I packed up a lot more of my belongings to bring home for break than I initially thought I would have to. I packed my car with as much stuff as I could, and I went home. Break would have been the same for me either way, since I was scheduled to work during it. I work at my local movie theater at home, and I was not expecting it to be busy since all movie releases were being delayed. Monday the 16th, after being at work for an hour, I found out that the theater would no longer be open until further notice. I went home in a state of shock, wondering what the future would hold.
The next day was when I found out that school would be held entirely online for the rest of the semester. We were told we had a week to move off campus while also adapting to the new online learning. All of this was going on while also being forced to stay at home until a future date that, to this day, is still being pushed back. Every day, it seemed that something worse would happen in the attempt to take down COVID-19. Today, we are all stuck at home, surviving and waiting patiently for this all to end.
Basic supplies in stores are hard to come by, food places are closed or only do pickup or delivery, and the world continues to make no progress in solving this pandemic. The only current solutions are to close everything and tell everyone to stay at home. Officials are attempting to come up with a vaccine, but it is coming at a slow pace. The virus continues to spread while all we can do is stay away from the world. The only connections we have with others are those we live with and those we can talk to online.
I saw a video on YouTube called “I’m losing control” by The Game Theorists in which a man shares his thoughts on the outbreak and its future. He brings up a great point in the video about how our present will affect our future. Currently many of us are afraid to go outside because of the risk of contracting an invisible disease. Is our current fear going to continue in the future? Even when government officials say it is okay to go outside and experience our normal lives again, are we going to be too afraid to? Is the future of mankind destined to fall because of our fear of this crisis? If the answer to that question is yes, then maybe the real virus isn’t COVID-19.