M.D., 19, a pre-med student in Long Grove, IL

I’m lucky. I’m lucky that both of my parents still have jobs. I know many people whose parents have lost their jobs, but it’s still a bit scary because my mom still has to go to work every day and she works in a hospital, and our grandparents are with us. I try not to worry about it, but I can’t not think about it—this also feels like a privilege, something else that I’m lucky for, but every time somebody leaves the house, I get a little anxious. I’m also lucky that no one I know directly has been diagnosed with coronavirus.

Initially, when my college announced that we would be online, it was sad because I couldn’t say goodbye. I didn’t have time to process a goodbye, and it was hard. Now that I’m home, I feel pressure to be productive. I always feel this way, even during school. I feel like every single summer I have to do something, constantly. It’s almost like I’m wasting my time or my life if I don’t do something—I want to take on personal projects and I see success as something that motivates me, but I don’t know how to do it or what to do.

Everything has changed, even my priorities. From a purely objective public health standpoint, I’ve enjoyed learning more about epidemics and epidemiology, especially since I’m pre-med. What I appreciate is that I have no excuses not to talk to my friends. I can talk to a lot more people, and it’s easier for me to stay up-to-date with peoples’ lives. I’ve also recently started taking care of my physical health and I’m taking the extra steps to fix my perspective on it. I’m prioritizing myself more, since it’s easy to put myself on the back burner. My family has also become a bigger priority for me. The people in my life: myself, my friends, my family. All of those have come more forward.

Something that’s been bothering me is how the government and sometimes the healthcare system seem to be playing with the value of a human life. The importance of prevention can’t be understated. Having talked to my mom about how things are going in the hospital, I feel like it’s really surprising how fragile human health is, and it’s like an extra factor in the fear of the unknown. It shows you how much government itself values life and how problematic the healthcare system can be. Underlying issues with healthcare and government are more apparent, but perhaps with how some Americans have been responding, these issues are much, much more. America will do the most to try and stop a problem, but it’ll work harder to make sure there’s something to blame for it.

[submitted on 5/30/2020]

Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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