COVID: 3 Years in, Let’s Reflect

Crystal Masih, Staff Writer

What do you think when you hear the term Covid-19? A couple words or things that come to my mind are: Coronavirus, Covid, quarantine, “we are all in this together”, zoom, social distancing, and lock-down. For many of us this was an extremely difficult period and something that will be with us for a long time. But let’s take a moment to reflect on how we as a world – and me, personally – have been affected by this pandemic.

Covid 19, otherwise known according to the CDC as SARS-CoV-2, started in the Chinese city of Wuhan in 2020. What started as just a national infection eventually became a global pandemic that no one saw coming. Covid first reached the U.S. on January 20, 2020 in Washington state. For the rest of the nation, the key date was March, 11, 2020 when The World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global pandemic. Just two days later, on  March 13th, MCPS and other school systems  nationwide began to shut down.

I remember being excited for “2 extra weeks off” which turned out to be 1 ½ years in virtual learning. In my experience virtual learning was pretty bad. I remember I’d be on zoom for class on pretty much every day of the week with hours on zoom ranging from two to eight hours on a daily basis. Meanwhile, we were going through the phases of lockdown and, over time, various variants of Covid running rampant (I honestly lost count after Delta). In addition to all of this, it was odd to see everyone outside with a mask on and maintaining their distance in fear of the invisible enemy.

And then, in December of 2020 after a lot of prayers and wishes, our hopes came true and we got the Covid vaccine! I remember getting my first vaccine. I took a picture because the nurse said that the vaccine was “What you’d tell the future generation(s) about how you survived the pandemic.” Due to this, as 2021 rolled around we slowly started to “get back to normal” as aspects of the lockdown got lifted. In fact, it was not too long after this that we were back in school – with very specific rules and safety precautions, workplaces opened, and gatherings resumed – again, with limitation.

It was not until late in 2022 – in October a few days before homecoming – that I finally got Covid (thank goodness I didn’t buy tickets because we weren’t able to get that refunded at that point). My brother had Covid first, then I got it, and so did my mom. The only one that was spared was my dad. Surprisingly, he took care of us all and never got it which is really surprising, but I guess he beat the odds. Fortunately, at this point I already had my first vaccine and two boosters so my symptoms weren’t that bad. All I had was an itchy throat, occasional coughing, I was really tired, and had sore eyes. I remember my first thoughts after this whole experience was that this virus that had taken over my body had killed so many and if I didn’t have the vaccines and the boosters that I probably would not have survived.

I also remember the workload I had to recover which ended up having me making up assignments and a test to end of November. It became really stressful because of the start of the holiday season. I can only imagine being quarantined for 5 days back when Covid first started; in fact, some people we were quarantined for 2 weeks. I can only imagine how much people had to make up from work and school at that time!

So, that was my experience with Covid. I decided to ask some of my peers, family, and friends about their experiences with Covid as well. For students in grades 9-12, the pandemic struck when they were in middle school or just starting high school. For many of them it was, as one sophomore who I interviewed said, “…a dark, weird and lonely time.” Others expressed a lot of heartfelt responses when asked about the impact the pandemic had on them, including my mom who said, “I lost a good friend of mine to Covid and ever since I’ve been really cautious to what I say to others because you never know when they’ll leave.” On a less serious note, my best friend Aashna recalls one positive of the pandemic was how much easier school was. Aashna said, “Virtual learning was pretty fun. You don’t pay attention but get good grades. [I’d give it a 10/10; an experience I one-hundred percent wouldn’t mind doing again!”

Ultimately, all of this really goes to show how different our experiences were with Covid, and how we will carry these stories with us until the day we die. One thing is for sure – these experiences have shaped us for the rest of our lives.