Updated: Oct 28, 2020
By: Nicolas Rontanini
With many aspects of the COVID-19 (first known as the coronavirus) still being a mystery, many people are afraid. As a result, many public spaces have been closed down. People can only order takeout from restaurants because they have been ordered to close for onsite dining. Initially, public gatherings of more than 10 people were banned—until we were all asked not to gather in person at all. All of this was done as an attempt to contain the virus and perhaps keep it from spreading. As of this writing, given the increase in cases, many officials like Governor Andrew Cuomo have even considered issuing a shelter in place. This can limit social interaction because even though people can technically still go outside, they’re discouraged from doing so. With everyone being encouraged to stay in their homes, and with little possibility of public connection, this could lead to people feeling isolated.
Of course, this is happening with people’s safety and well-being in mind. But this is a big step. I suppose the question is this step a necessary one? While limiting contact in large crowds could reduce the number of cases of the virus, it could also leave people almost feeling imprisoned inside their own homes.
Besides social implications, there are also several economic ones, as well. Since restaurants can only deliver take out, restaurants who don’t deliver could lose money. Now only businesses deemed essential can stay open, leaving everyone else to be temporarily out of work. It’s good that people in the government are trying to subvert the progression of the virus. But what happens with these implications, when all is said and done?
Though things look bleak, entertainment shows like “SNL” have tried to give the public something to laugh about. Weeks ago, they created a sketch and jokingly compared the virus to stitch from “Lilo and Stitch.” They likely wanted to alleviate an already tense situation, given the growing fears about the virus. Social media users are doing something similar, posting jokes comparing the coronavirus to the Corona beer brand. Even late-night host Stephen Colbert is joking about the situation, doing filming of his show from his bathtub. All of these jokes seem to be aimed at giving people a laugh in the face of adversity. Given the times the country is in, a laugh might be just what we need.
This isn’t the only way people have tried to ease the public’s mind. For example, President Donald Trump said, with confidence, that we will get through this. Appealing to the spirit of the people can help raise their hope that “this too shall pass.” This is especially helpful now because with everything seemingly happening all at once, people seem very overwhelmed.
Confidence during these times is a good way to keep yourself calm. But there is a difference between being confident and being overconfident. When being overconfident, the situation might not be properly illuminated. People seem to be going from one extreme to the other, either overly scared or overly calm. The situation is not pleasant, certainly, but it should be taken seriously. Given that over 7,000 cases have been confirmed in New York, the coronavirus is nothing to be taken lightly.
With everything going on, it’s almost too easy to become overwhelmed. It seems like no matter where you turn, there is some sort of bad news. But even though this is a bleak situation, people need to calm down. It’s only the end of the world if you make it be. Are people right to be afraid? Yes, they are. Many aspects of the coronavirus are still unknown, but people have gotten through worse. If we stay calm and keep our wits about us, we can find the strength to persevere.