Photo from AP through Diario

The COVID-19 pandemic raises questions and might be a good thing in the end.

It came from China. It’s not as mortal as we eagerly thought. It’s not as untreatable as we also thought. So why the fear?

My parents are old people, they have health problems. That’s the reason why I, at first, was a little scared. I thought that me getting sick would be a major risk for them. That is also why I was very careful in the first two weeks.

My mother keeps telling me to get naked as soon as I go in the house. There’s a whole new ritual, shoes off, shirt off, pants off, even the keys, the wallet, everything has to be put on a table near the door. She takes all of it and hangs my pants and shirt on the patio to “air them out”, and my shoes she cleans the bottom with chloride and soap water.

It doesn’t bother me at all to do that every day, I do it for them and also because I believe that is a good exercise for the future. If this happened now, it could happen again, no doubt.

This ritual, on the other hand, has led me to think about how my way of seeing the world has changed in the past two months. My parents never lived this, they went through other tough times like the Cold War, the Vietnam war, etc. Of course, now, this has been a new experience for them, but it hasn’t had a great impact on them as for me on how we should move forward.

As a journalist, I have been going out almost every day. I have to move around a lot, going back and forth each day to the office. At the beginning of the quarantine, I stayed home for a week. Later I was asked to go to the office on a weekend and then I have been going quite regularly. I can say that I am lucky, a lot of people have stayed home for the entire two months, and I don’t know if I could’ve done that or how I would’ve dealt with it. Either way, now I've started to appreciate the little things better. You know, things like going to the park with my dog, the beach, sitting in a bodega and having a beer. Things we normally did before all of this happened.

My views have also changed about what’s important in life. I used to go out and spend money on fancy food and drinks. Now having to hold my pocket for fear of getting laid off at work has showed me what’s essential moneywise.

I also miss my friends, haven’t seen them in weeks. Although we hang out through social media, it is not the same. Regret comes to mind when I think about all those times I answered: “Don’t feel like it. I’m tired. Maybe tomorrow.” Or just didn’t pick up the phone.

One of the biggest issues in mind now is how my short-term plans were disrupted with this pandemic. My fiancé and I are stuck in the Dominican Republic. This had let me believe that in the future I have to plan better. This uncertainty I admit has me worried. I don’t know when are we going to be able to travel and how.

I’ve seen the news about some states opening up, read an article about what airlines are doing, asking, and flying at the moment. The information is glooming. Most of the airlines are only flying once or twice a week, there are bans all over the world with not timespan close by. It will all depend on how the illness fades away in countries.

I understand, there are many sick people in the world, and there are a lot who don’t know if they suffer from a serious one. It is only fair that the government is cautious with how they start to open up. Even so, I think they should, gradually. Just as I believe people should be disciplined, respect the rules, and have some empathy and solidarity.

The virus is only a serious killer in 5 % of the gravely ill. That is a very laughable number considering how many people die in the world each day due to accidents, heart attacks, cancer, and other diseases, even though is not a laughable matter. The mortality rate stands between 3–4 %, which is bad, but not worrisome. This shows that we have learned a lot in just two months and that now some rules already used to countermeasure the illness must be kept in practice.

Sick people should stay at home or work from home, really sick people should be in hospitals and healthy people should be able to continue with their lives. Of course, we now are going to be wearing masks for a long time, at least until a vaccine that works is available. That should be a rule, especially for public places.

My generation (millennials), my brother’s (who’s 12 years older), and two of my nieces who are 16 and 6 will remember this. It will probably have a bigger impact on my generation and that of my older niece, and I hope we all get the positives of this experience. I hope we pay more attention to health and illness, friendship and family, money and work, but most importantly to what happens thousands of miles away from home.