by Heriberto Chavez
As we are a quarter into the year of 2021, I wanted to reach out to some people in other states to get insight on how the pandemic has affected their daily life. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of over 531 thousand people across the nation in the United States. With over 29.5 million cases every person across the nation had to deal with the virus in one way or another. Whether it was an effect on their work, school, or just conducting their hobbies everyone lives have been changed since the virus has came to light.
The first interviewee is John Gonzalez who currently resides in Pennsylvania and was living in New York city when the pandemic came to rise. I asked Gonzalez on how the pandemic affected him. His answer was drastic as he was fully immersed into a situation of chaos. He replied with “The COVID-19 pandemic like many put a halt on my life. I had dreams of living in NYC and going to school there since 2016. I knew it was expensive and hard city to support yourself financially in. So, you must go in there with a plan. I did just that. Since 2016, I saved money and continued working professionally. December 2019 I officially left my career to just focus on school and living in the Big Apple. I moved into an apartment in Harlem in mid-January of 2020. Then Corona happened and NYC was the epicenter; shut down my school and the city. I left NYC to move back home with my family. My father and mother are both in the vulnerable age group and have pre-existing health conditions which make contracting the virus that much more concerning. Even when the state would loosen restrictions we still treaded very carefully and avoided going out as much as possible. Still, I was much more fortunate than others. We have a large property with lots of land in a secluded part of eastern PA and my family was never in financial danger. Regardless, like many it still impacted me a lot.”
As Gonzalez’s life came halting to a stop, many other Americans were feeling down on their luck as well with over 20.6 million people losing their jobs. With the government cracking down hard to prevent the virus from spreading it caused many businesses and positions forced to grind to a halt. In our state of Colorado, the health administration ordered face coverings in order to prevent the spread of the virus. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), staying six feet apart, washing your hands, avoiding crowds, cleaning and disinfecting, and wearing a mask were critical for prevention of spread of COVID-19. I asked Gonzalez if he believed Colorado and other states provided enough information to the population to help the stop of COVID-19. He responded with, “Yes, it is already proven that mask mitigate the spread of COVID-19. However, policy makers need to reexamine required mask policies in terms of commerce. For example, when going to a sit-down restaurant you are wearing a mask up to the point you are sitting down. Once the mask is removed you are still in confined space with a large group of people with non-circulating air.”
My second interviewee was an aspiring Psychologist currently in his last stages of his PhD program in California. His name is Edgar Canada, he has been working with many different people including supporting the mental health of our veterans through the VA. California has been one of the strictest states as the state alone has had over 3.62 million cases and over 56 thousand people die from the virus. California with its huge population has had one of the most restrictions due to the COVID-19 virus. I asked Canada if he believed whether this is the new normal, living with mask and social distancing? He responded with, “No, eventually we will get through this as we have got through many other illnesses. We have faced many other challenges in California including the West Nile Virus and the evolving Influenza virus. I know that the masks and the social distancing will not go away immediately and more people will be on edge for a while although, I believe we come back to regular society and get past this. It will not be easy, but people will break from the fear of the virus and learn from the details of prevention. I believe that the preventive measures are crucial to moving forward and looking towards a brighter future.”
As COVID-19 became the pandemic as it did many believed that the numbers were being inflated. The claims have been tossed around from various news outlets and nothing has been totally solidified. Both Gonzalez and Canada were skeptical of the total numbers. According to the CDC, over 531 thousand people has died from the COVID-19 in the U.S. John Gonzalez stated, “No, at the height of the pandemic the health organizations were still attempting to close many gaps of information and data being produced regarding the virus; furthermore, organize it. I believe the virus was absolutely serious, however, there was a margin of error with deaths being associated solely to the virus. The pandemic caused more federal and state funding to be allocated to hospitals with a high number of COVID-19 cases. Hospitals and health organizations would inflate cases in order to receive this funding. If you don’t think this occurs when vying for government funding, then you likely never worked for an organization attempting procure government funds. Meet the requirements to receive more free money from the government.”
With the country overwhelmed with the virus, I asked myself how our health organization would handle the situation. Hospitals throughout the country were looking for resources to help as they were stunned and didn’t have even the beds to support the incoming patients. Having close relatives in the medical field they spoke of the horrors they were facing every day. My wife a registered nurse in downtown Colorado Springs stated that many of the facilities did not even have the proper protective equipment for the staff to protect themselves from the virus. This gave me chilling reality check that even as modern or medicine is, that we were not prepared for this type of event to the slightest. My final question was whether the local hospitals and clinics in Colorado were prepared for that type of outbreak of COVID-19? Gonzalez and Canada both answered with a stern “NO!”. They went on to say what I believed and faced the reality of medical teams are trying very hard although this virus shocked and overwhelmed our nation. In closing, COVID-19 has shaken our nation and we currently recovering from all that is has caused. We will continue to strive to reopen, come together, and push our nation back to the great nation that we are.
Interviewee: John Michael Gonzalez via face2face, zoom Time: 1430 Date: 02/11/2021, 03/10/2021
Interviewee: Edgar Canada via zoom Time: 1535 Date: 03/13/2021
Time: 1500-1535 Date: 02/13/2021, 03/10/2021, 03/13/2021 Location: home office