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  • Writer's pictureElliot Figueroa

COVID-19-An Anecdote from a Father

My first recollection of concern over COVID-19 was a car ride from Rockland County, NY to my home in New Jersey. My 13 and 12-year-olds were "putting me up to speed" on what they had learned about the virus over the last few days in school. They mentioned briefings and the Scholastic articles about the epidemic in China, which seemed so far away at the time. During this lively debate they repeated a lot of information that now has simply become false about how it started, who can get it, will it come to the US and can I (teenagers) really die from it. My response was simple, yes it can come to the US and yes you (even teenagers) can die from it. But their young and patriotic nationalistic minds did not conceive what is now our reality.

My daughter, who simply is too smart for her own good, is 13 going on 35 with a medical degree. In her opinion, the medical prowess of the US along with its imperialistic power will simply not allow for such an epidemic to reach its shores. Then justifiably, if it does reach the US, she said, it will not spread like it did in other countries. Further receding to her safe space she then justified that even if it did spread, it would not affect our daily lives as it had in China. I quickly understood this as her defense mechanism, along with some simple lack of life experience, to cope with the possibility of chaos.

This state of mind and perception was shared by many Americans as recently as a few weeks ago. Not all of those sharing this idea were teenagers mind you. And yet the actions of some in authority who failed to act, some who made decisions to travel and gather irresponsibly and some who simply acted in a selfish panic have brought us to the circumstances we face now.

So we face an enemy that we do not know, that holds no mechanized weapons, that holds no religious, social, economic or political leverage and follows no rules. Our defense should be poised to defend against these very traits. We should let engineering and technology overwhelm the virus. Our beliefs should be in each other regardless of our social, economic, political or religious backgrounds. And finally, we should set the rules of engagement to equally benefit us as global citizens rather than any nationalist agenda.

Most of all, make time to be together by being apart. You hear great stories daily of people using the time to do great work. Some people volunteer, some give back to those in need or at the front lines of the disease, others take time to create and yet others re-connect with loved ones. It is important that we take the added time this horrible situation has afforded a lot of us to make this a valid sacrifice for those who will not see its resolve.

And there will be such a resolve. Even if right now it is unclear when; what it will look like; or how it will come about.

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