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COVID-19 USA Edition; In Their Words

The opinions expressed here are strictly those of the individual based off their individual experience in the state in which they reside. I, William Hirsch, neither endorse nor condemn their opinions or their experiences.

I cannot thank those that contributed for this post enough. Their generousness in detailing their experiences during such a perilous time, has not gone unnoticed.

I want to make it clear that everyone that is featured in this post, I have met at one time or another through work, university, friends or family.

If you're looking for the COVID-19 experiences of those around the world, CLICK HERE.

Massachusetts

Phil Lehmann - Boston, Massachusetts - Teacher - "I’ve been out of school for two weeks. We recently started distance learning (online). Just sitting at home with the distancing and dwindling toilet paper supply. My roommate works at a hospital so we’re taking it seriously. The hospital is privately owned and they’ve been furloughing their employees and cutting breaks despite being a testing center. It’s a mess."

New Jersey

Amit Batra - Bridgewater, New Jersey - Local Sports Reporter - "My county hasn’t been as affected as some. Bergen County up north close to New York is the worst. Hudson County and Jersey City have been hit pretty bad. Monmouth County down the shore, Middlesex County in the central part of the state, Essex County where Newark is and Union County have also been impacted pretty hard. NJ.com has all the stats, and there is a site that has the state-by-state breakdown. I’ve just been ordering meals through a delivery service called Eat Clean Bro. They deliver right to your door and pretty quickly. Virginia issued a stay-at-home order through June 10, which I found a little bizarre since NJ and NY haven’t at this point. It seems like things have gotten under control in Washington state, where it originally started. Hard to tell based on those who are asymptomatic but still might have it. There is also drive-thru testing available in Bergen County. The problem was people with a little cough or something were going to get tested when it initially opened up. There was too much demand but it looks like a 5-minute test will be administered soon, which is very good news. We’re nowhere near Italy as some people who think so negatively believe. The way it sounds is this will peak in about two weeks and then hopefully we’ll see a decline. I just can’t wait for life to return to normal, whenever that may be."

"I’d like to thank the hospital workers, drivers, cops and those who put themselves in harm’s way each day! Anybody who supports local businesses or helps in any way I approve of. I am a believer in positivity! We need more of the good news, it’s out there, not just all doom and gloom!"

Pennsylvania

Wes Uhler - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Sports Radio Host - "My wife and I have had a unique experience navigating life during this coronavirus outbreak. We were actually in Florida when crap began to hit the fan in the United States. When we left Pittsburgh for Siesta Key, March Madness and Conference Tournaments were still scheduled. The NBA and NHL had yet to cancel their seasons. By the time we came home, everything had changed. We picked one heck of a time to take our first vacation in 3.5 years!" "After we returned home from Florida, we both had mandated quarantines from our employers, which my wife and I both agreed was smart. We worked from home exclusively for two weeks, and have been fortunate to have no symptoms or sickness since we originally left Pittsburgh the first week in March. Now, we're only traveling to work once or twice a week. My wife works in Transportation and Logistics, so these weeks have been crazy for her. Her company is involved in the transportation of chemicals for many large companies, so they have been working overtime to try and get essential supplies to companies who produce sanitizer, cleaning products, and more." "For me, I work in radio and media, so I am able to do some of my job from home, but also still need to go into our studios a couple times a week for certain things that require hands on attention or special equipment. All of our regular hosts are doing their shows from home, and have been for three weeks now. Only producers are still coming into the building." "Pittsburgh has done well staying home and limiting social interaction. According to mobile data, Pennsylvania residents have had a 45% decrease in average distance traveled. One of my coworkers joked that Pennsylvanians are doing so well with social distancing because all it normally does is rain this time of year and we're used to staying home anyways!" "I was worried that sunny weather this past weekend might have people doing too much outdoor congregating, but most of what I saw was people just staying on their own street, own driveway, own back porch, and getting some sunshine while maintaining proper distance." "Sure, Pennsylvanians are getting cabin fever and going a little stir crazy now on week three of staying at home. But I think the sentiment from most is that lets be smart and cautious now, so that hopefully we can enjoy the summer and still have football in the fall. Because we all know how Pennsylvanians, from high school Friday's to NFL Sunday's, love their football in the fall."

Maryland

Kevin McBride - Silver Spring, Maryland - "Fortunately, I have been working from home so my routine hasn’t been altered too much and I’m still getting paid so that is pretty great for me personally. My friends and I have done a good job using FaceTime/Skype/whatever to have trivia night, virtual happy hour, keeping the social aspect there and I’ve tried to find a reason to get outside almost every day to run or get takeout or something. The thing that is causing me the most anxiety is the uncertainty. When will it end? What can slow it down? Are my friends and family ok? The lack of good information and some people downplaying it early whether it be because of denial or confusion or whatever I think was detrimental, but you really don’t know. Not knowing how serious or fatal it really is also is stressing me out. If I or someone I know contracts it, will they be ok? Can you care for yourself at home or is it a red alert? The news of course focuses on the spread and the death toll because numbers make good headlines but how can people actually treat it? Just the unpredictability of the whole situation is what makes me the most nervous. Also kinda hard to comprehend that we are in a global health crisis, still doesn’t feel real to a certain degree."

Washington D.C.

Neal Kayastha - Adams Morgan, D.C. - "I’m not worried, but I told my mom and family I’m not going to see them for at least 2 months. My family owns and operates group homes for elderly people so they have to be very limited with interaction with people and my grandfather has really bad respiratory problems."

"D.C. definitely thinks this is a joke. Yesterday, I went for a walk and passed by four parks at least three of them had a bunch of people in them. I’m just trying to adjust and it’s been really difficult. I hate the indoors. I've already had to cancel four trips I had planned. Plus, I had to turn down an amazing job opportunity because with the recession it’s not a good time to jump ship and move jobs."

Virginia

Jeff Woods - Haymarket, Virginia - "I do not know anyone who has contracted COVID-19. Life for me hasn't changed much. I work in a government position on proprietary networks which requires me to be in the office. Still, our office is on a three week rotation with myself and two others each taking turns being in the office for a week. This week was my week, so I'll be working remote for the next two weeks. We have been given lots of training to do and there are some work related tasks I can accomplish from home. My wife (Born and raised in Germany as a German citizen who I met while stationed in Germany with the Army) was reminiscing about Chernobyl and how she was stuck inside for a couple weeks. The kids said, yeah but you got to play games. Maybe, but only board games and there was nobody to play them with.

We had a social distancing neighborhood party last Sunday. Five couples met in the cul-de-sac with lawn chairs. The ten of us sat in a circle, each couple 6 feet from the next. Cigars, booze, it was a great time. I hope we can do it again. I think it's important for us to keep personal face-to-face social networks that make society. We can't let this be a time that turns us all into hermits. Viruses are one of the very natural things that have been killing humans forever. However, I'm not going to be stupid and I am doing what I can to minimize risk. I do spend a lot of time worrying about my grandparents in Chicago. They are 96 and 91 and obviously very high risk by virtue of their age. My cousin and her family were going to visit them last week and decided against it even though they've been planning it for months. But what if my grandparents wanted my cousin's family to visit anyway? Why spend their final time locked away. They want to see their family. Video chatting is an amazing gift from someone (likely in Silicon Valley). We did a video chat with my grandparents last weekend. My brothers, mother, all of our kids, cousins, and my 90-something Grandparents. I love seeing how marvelous they think technology is.

It makes me sad to see our politicians and news media trying so hard to turn us all against one another. I am 100% convinced that all politicians are doing their best to shepherd us through this. Both parties are equally guilty of trying to score cheap points off the other. I wish they would both stop. This next year or two should be a time of unity. Needless to say, our elections this fall will burst that bubble. I'm sure Trump will claim there were fewer deaths and Biden will claim there were more. Both sides will claim the other is lying and try to make us all hate each other and think the other side is stupid. I plan a purposeful boycott of politics until we have a long-term plan to deal with COVID-19. I wonder if all the steps we're taking will be worth it. Which human suffering is worse; the sickness, or the proverbial medicine (not even the cure) which treats the symptoms (social distancing and quarantine)? There are millions who spent their entire lives building businesses only to have them wiped out by government mandated social distancing and quarantine. We are going to have a severe mental health crisis equal to, or greater than, the COVID-19 crisis. The worst part is, we will never know if it was all worth it. We don't get a do-over. We only have guesses. Maybe worse still, if we do everything right and minimize deaths, it will only embolden those who said we're overreacting. The measures we're taking will be a victim of their own success."

West Virginia

Eric Minor - Morgantown, West Virginia - Director of Student Careers and Opportunities at West Virginia University - "It’s been thirteen days since I’ve been out of my neighborhood on the north end of Morgantown, West Virginia. When the students are here, our city has a population of about 60,000. Without students, it’s half that. It’s weird. I’m a career coach at the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. It’s my job to help students find experiential learning opportunities outside the classroom. Except everything is happening outside of the classroom now. Since students have returned to class online, virtual appointments have started to pick up, which is good. I really miss seeing and hearing them as they discover abilities they didn’t know they had. Most of the meetings happen via Zoom, but some happen over the phone. Even though we are a College of Media, not everyone wants to be on camera. I even exchanged a series of 20 emails with a student who got locked out of her building and didn’t have good Internet access. I try to get outside and walk around the neighborhood when I can. As an asthmatic, I’m in the segment of the population who shouldn’t venture out to the grocery store. My wife is a home-care physical therapist who puts on a mask and gloves after I see her off every morning. She has to shower and change before I can hug her when she gets back home at the end of the day. My children (a college freshman and a high school freshman) spend their days studying and we have lunch together every day, which is nice. I come upstairs from my temporary office in the basement and we reheat leftovers or experiment with gourmet Ramen. We’re all doing pretty well, all things considered. The dog is really the only one of us who is utterly miserable. We’ve discovered all of the rules he breaks when we’re typically not at home. We frequently catch him napping on the couch or surfing the countertop for scraps. Rather than looking guilty, he just seems peeved that we’re encroaching on his 'me time.' Each night, we all have dinner together and watch the NBC Nightly News and Jeopardy! (a tradition that dates back to my life at home with my own parents). That’s my favorite part of the day. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t starting to get cabin fever. West Virginia is a state that begs you to go outside, especially this time of year. I’d rather be in my office, face-to-face with the students because I came here to serve. I’d rather be able to run out to the convenience store at the end of our road for a six-pack. I’d rather be able to meet up with my buddies at the local comic book store for a night of tabletop gaming. I’d rather be watching hockey. But I am incredibly fortunate to be quarantined with the people I love the most, with an income and a job that continues to function, and parents and in-laws who are playing it safe. And I’m constantly noting that, in a place that usually feels pretty far away from everything, how suddenly small the world suddenly feels."

North Carolina

Ava Jennette - Raleigh, North Carolina - "I’m concerned and taking it seriously. I definitely don’t think the virus is overhyped but I’m not necessarily worried or scared either. I’m trying to be cautious, listen to experts, and not panic. However, I’m also not a person who gets overly worried in most situations, I kind of have an all you can do is do the right things mentality and otherwise there’s really nothing you can do outlook. As for others, it’s a lot of mixed reviews, my mom is taking it very seriously, she hasn’t left the house in weeks and a neighbor is bringing her groceries but my dad (they’re separated) doesn’t seem quite as concerned. My boyfriends parents also thought it was overhyped at first (they’re Fox News watchers) but after his uncle was hospitalized for COVID-19 they began taking it more seriously. As for the public I’m starting to see more masks and less traffic. A crazy thing I saw was someone had a wedding party in a park a few days ago."

Georgia

Travis Bell - Atlanta, Georgia - Personal Trainer - "It has been as you can expect, a perfect illustration of a nation full of people who want individual freedom without wanting the individual accountability that comes with it. Most businesses are closed, schools are closed, however, you still have some non-essential distribution center businesses forcing their employees to come to work. Friends of mine who work at said distribution centers have spoken to the company doing some precautionary measures such as taking people's temperatures and forcing them to stay home if they do have a fever, but still doesnt account for asymptomatic carriers who may be coming into work. Outside of Atlanta there havent been any clusters of cases other than a city on the Georgia and Alabama border (Albany, Georgia) who has seen an acute rise in cases due to the fact that an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 attended a funeral and the virus ended up affecting quite a few number of people within that city. All in all though, I think it has been an illustration of people displaying levels of selfishness in terms of panic buying things at essential stores, leaving certain items scarce for population demographics who are older and cannot get in and out of places as quickly. Some younger people still hosting, "drinking parties" and violating the mandates because they think they aren't at risk for it but don't account for older or immunocompromised people they come in to contact with. So, I think that this pandemic just displayed America's true sickness that it suffers from and that's it's selfishness."

Texas

Mitchell Santry - Houston, Texas - Occupation Oil & Energy - "I feel rather safe because Texas has thankfully not been hit as hard as other states, such as New York. That being said, Governor Abbott is taking precaution and just announced that anyone coming from Lousinana will need to be quarantined for 14 days. The reason being, Lousiana has seen a sharp increase in cases. Only time will tell whether Houston becomes a hotspot for COVID-19. As for now, it hasn't been too bad. However, I can tell most people are worried. The grocery stores are half empty and the streets are bare. Houston bars and restaurants are closed. Many restaurants are doing takeout and delivery orders only. In addition, many employees are working remotely including myself."

Colorado

Julian - Colorado Springs, Colorado - "I’m staying at home but occasionally walk my dogs with my wife and grocery shop when needed. I've been keeping up with the CDC and I do what the Army tells me when times get worse. I think this virus is a big deal."

"Nothing crazy has happened but I’m noticing a lot more tents being set up and people over buying essential supplies. I think the state and as well as the country are trying their best but the fact is no one can be prepared because something unplanned can always happen. So, I guess we just take it day by day. I believe the common citizen is the one who are taking it badly by not following rules and constantly looking at and posting misinformation."

Hawaii "Mr. JR" - Wahiawa, Hawaii - "I’ve been in Hawaii since December 18th, 2019 after leaving Korea on December 17th, 2019 just before the Coronavirus hit. There was nothing more exciting then to see my family after a long time living overseas. Now on April 1st, 2020 there are over 930,000 cases worldwide of the Coronavirus. In Hawaii, we went from 24 to 81 to 150 and now 258. Some people have become paranoid, but, more or less, it’s people being cautious. If you can separate paranoia and being cautious this will be better. It’s been very calm but still a lot of people need to be cautious. Washing hands and being careful around other people. I’m not scared, just alert. I have a sibling who has diabetes and a mom who’s still on medication and hospital check-ins from finishing chemo after kicking breast cancers ass. In all seriousness, make sure that we stay clean to make sure they don’t get sick . So, when people ask how I’m doing with all this, I say living life because that’s all we can do and spending time with family takes away all that negative energy and makes positive energy!"

States that did not respond

- Missouri (ignored)

- North Carolina (several different attempts)

- Ohio (politely declined) & (ignored)

 

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