Today’s the second day of working from home/self-quarantining because of the COVID-19 Virus (I hate using the general term, coronavirus; MANY viruses are coronaviruses).
With the onset of the virus affecting the US a few weeks ago, I had two initial fears: my elderly, medically-fragile parents contracting it and me spreading the virus to other people. It’s my nature to never harm a person (emotionally or physically), and I care too much about people over my own well-being. If I got COVID-19 — and sure, I might recover or even fall gravely ill with my medical history — my greatest fear is to give it to someone else, and their condition worsens to the point of hospitalization. Self-quarantining and isolation has never been a problem for me, because it’s also been my nature as an introverted artist/designer to find the greatest comfort in being by myself.
Now with New York virtually shut down, I’ve developed a third fear: economic hardship and collapse of others. I’m so fortunate to be able to work from home, maintain a salary (albeit not so much as some of my fellow designers and art directors), and health insurance, but I have friends who aren’t so lucky. Talking to some of my friends who are bartenders, baristas, restaurant workers, movie theater operators, and hairstylists — they are now left unemployed and without benefits for God knows how fucking long.
I worry about those who have small businesses, those who solely rely on tips, those who are an integral part of the service industry, the immigrant worker who has a cart or small restaurant, those who don’t have a salary — what will become of them during this time? How will they pay rent, especially in such a shitty-expensive city like New York? How will they buy groceries? How will they, God forbid, they get sick and need to go to the doctor? And let’s not forget about school kids who are now at home, whose parents are healthcare workers or live paycheck to paycheck in a job that requires them to be present. What happens to the kids who rely on a hot meal at school? Yes, public places and schools, should be closed, but what in the meantime and what of the future?
All of it is so fucking complicated and so fucked up.
What this virus has taught me is the huge social and economic disparity between the haves and the have-nots, those who can survive this financially and to those who struggle to live in this stupid city. It depresses the fuck out of me, and I want to do something about it. The day before all restaurants and cafes were closed, I tipped 200% to the acquaintances that work behind the counter. I’ve donated money to a few causes to help those who are now left without work. I definitely don’t have much and I struggle to maintain a life in New York too, but it pains me to see someone who’s in a worse situation.
We’ll get through this, physically. I’m fully aware of the precarious and dangerous situation of the immediate now, but my mindset has always been to be anxious of the future. I’m always thinking of the bigger picture, and right now the bigger picture looks very scary. People are going to be needing help once the curve of infection (and, yes, fatalities) eventually flattens, so do what you can to help your fellow human being to prepare for the future. Love one another, videochat with your family and friends and keep them sane and happy, donate to those who are struggling or will most likely going to struggle.
Oh, and wash your hands.