by Trisha Duran
As we are now approaching almost a year of the coronavirus pandemic, many people’s lives have drastically changed from what they were like a year ago. All around the United States, people have to be wary of social distancing, wearing masks, reduced capacity levels, and other restrictions. Life as we know it has seemingly disappeared in most states. After a year, some people have adapted to the new ways of life quicker than others. Here are the stories of two ordinary people’s experiences in the pandemic.
In a face-to-face interview that took place on March 8th, Keri Duran shared her experience in the coronavirus pandemic as a virtual high school senior and shared her thoughts on the COVID-19 restrictions.
In an over-the-phone interview that took place on March 8th, Kristen Flores expressed her opinions on coronavirus prevention methods and told how the coronavirus has affected her life.
How has the pandemic affected your life?
K.D.: “The pandemic changed how I socialize and attend school. Before the pandemic, I was used to always seeing my classmates and friends, so the sudden change was quite lonely. Also, I have not even attended an in-person class since last year.”
K.F.: “The pandemic has not affected my life as drastically as others which I am thankful for. Of course, there are changes in my way of living because of businesses shutting down, social distancing, and less chances to socialize.”
As a student teacher and student, both of you have seen the changes in learning and teaching in school firsthand. Can you describe what it is like to be a student-teacher or student during the pandemic and how the students in your classroom learn? In your opinion, how effective is it for students to be learning that way?
K.D.: “School has become independent. I attend zoom classes once a week, but I do the rest of my schoolwork on my own since I am a virtual student. Learning harder subjects like math and science is tough because those subjects are normally hands-on. I would say that learning online is not that effective because it is so much harder to learn when you do not have teachers there to help you.”
K.F.: “Being a student teacher during the pandemic has brought on some challenges. Currently, the classes are a hybrid of some e-learners and some in person, with the e-learners joining synchronously a few times a day. I think the teaching is still effective, but there is a huge decrease in accountability and motivation. Students and teachers never know if schools will go back to remote learning. Also, in my district, students learn way more at school versus at home. These constant changes have not provided the stability that students need.”
As of March, 2.6 million people have died from the coronavirus worldwide. About 549,000 people have died from coronavirus in the United States. On the other hand, about 159,000 people have died from the pandemic in India. The United States has a population of 328 million, and India has a population of 1.37 billion. Why do you believe that the United States has so many more deaths when compared to other heavily populated countries?
K.D.: “The reason is that many people have been irresponsible during the pandemic. Some people did not follow the lockdown or the mask-wearing requirements. Also, our government has not done a good job of enforcing restrictions and lockdowns.”
K.F.: “I believe the U.S. has more deaths than other heavily populated countries because of two aspects–the government response and overall population health, this is in direct relation to figures related to India. Despite the number of cases in India, India’s population has overall healthier habits and a high recovery rate which has led to fewer deaths. India’s government also responded with stimulus aid packages for their citizens in the first month of the pandemic, which allowed citizens to practice healthier habits.”
Ever since the spread of coronavirus, people have been looking forward to the development of a coronavirus vaccine so that people could return to their normal lives. However, as coronavirus spread, so did misinformation about the vaccine once it was finally developed. Has misinformation affected your viewpoint of the vaccine?
K.D.: “I am not an anti-vaxxer, but I have heard a lot of things that make me scared to get the vaccine. I have heard that the vaccine was rushed and that it can be unsafe because vaccines normally take years to develop. I am not sure whether that is accurate but that is what I have heard so far.”
K.F.: “I don’t think misinformation has affected my viewpoint. I think everyone should be fully aware of all risks and benefits associated with a vaccine. I also believe everyone should have a choice to delay getting the vaccine if they are worried about the rapid development of the vaccination. There are no long-term studies, and everyone should have a choice to get the vaccine when they want or to fully opt-out.”
Despite any misconceptions about the vaccine, according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, the FDA has approved coronavirus vaccines for treating certain people who have COVID-19 and others. Additionally, in an article, the WSIU explained that scientists were able to develop a COVID-19 vaccine so fast due to the large number of scientists working on finding a vaccine. The large amount of funding that was provided for developing a vaccine and the fact that there were more scientific trials done than normal also contributed to the short amount of time it took. Anyone who feels misinformed about the vaccine or wants to learn more should feel free to research it more. Especially since President Biden plans to have enough vaccines for all adults in the United States by May, anyone who needs more clarity should research before making any decisions.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, wearing masks in public has been public policy since July 2020. In July, the government first introduced the executive order that requires all people over the age of 11 to wear a face-covering over their nose and mouth when in a public space or using public or non-personal transportation. The order was amended in February and was set to end on March 6, but it was recently extended for another 30 days. How effective is this policy in reducing the spread of coronavirus, in your opinion?
K.D.: “I think that masks are pretty effective when the restrictions are followed. However, I think that the mask policy should be enforced better because many people still do not wear their masks or do not wear them correctly. There should be fines or some other punishment if people refuse to wear their masks or wear them incorrectly. I have seen a lot of people who continuously ignore the restrictions and face no consequences.”
K.F.: “In my opinion, I understand the scientific data backing these protective measures. I and everyone around me have been wearing masks since the state mandate. However, since it has almost been a year since the executive order, I am questioning how effective masks are in lowering coronavirus cases. Although, being a student teacher and a mom, I have not had time to research how effective masks are. Overall, I would say I am in the middle of the mask debate.”
To summarize, dealing with the coronavirus pandemic has been difficult for everyone. Everyone has had to adapt to the unexpected changes and restrictions. The interviewees, K.D. and K.F. have dealt with changes at their workplaces, schools, and how they socialize. For K.D., learning during the pandemic has been challenging since her school is now mostly independent. For K.F., teaching during the pandemic has been difficult since the hybrid schedule that her school follows does not provide stability, and students have decreased motivation. Both interviewees share similar viewpoints on why the U.S. has so many deaths and thought that it was related to how the government and people responded to the pandemic. K.D. believes that masks are effective when worn properly, but K.F. is unsure of the effectiveness. In the end, even a year later COVID is still drastically changing lives.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Guidance for Wearing Masks.” March 8, 2021. https://covid19.colorado.gov/mask-guidance
National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “Coronaviruses.” December 2020. https://www.nfid.org/infectious-diseases/coronaviruses/
Whiteside, Steph. “Scientists Explain How the COVID Vaccine Was Developed So Fast.” WSIU. January 13, 2021. https://news.wsiu.org/post/scientists-explain-how-covid-vaccine-was-developed-so-fast#stream/0
 National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, “Coronaviruses.”
 Whiteside, “Scientists Explain How the COVID Vaccine Was Developed So Fast.”
 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, “Guidance for Wearing Masks.”