By: Andrew Guan
Image credit: Shreya Sharath
Information comes from https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-pandemic-timeline-history-major-events-2020-3
12/31/19: Chinese health officials inform the World Health Organization (WHO) of a mysterious new pneumonia-like disease. 41 people are infected.
1/1/20: The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market closes (the site where the virus was first released).
1/7/20: Chinese authorities dub the new virus “novel coronavirus” or “nCoV” for short.
1/11/20: China records its first death related to coronavirus.
1/20/20: The first case in Washington State is recorded.
1/23/20: China places the entire city of Wuhan under emergency lockdown, with the rest of Hubei province days later.
1/30/20: WHO declares a global public-health emergency.
1/31/20: President Donald J. Trump (45th president) bans foreign nationals from entering the U.S. if they had been in China the prior two weeks.
2/2/20: The first recorded death related to the coronavirus happens in the Philippines.
2/6/20: The first American death happens in California.
2/7/20: An important Chinese doctor, Li Wenliang, dies.
2/9/20: The death toll in China surpasses that of the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic, with more than 811 deaths recorded.
2/11/20: WHO dubs the new emerging virus as “COVID-19.”
2/12/20: COVID-19 cases spike in South Korea.
2/19/20: COVID-19 outbreaks in Iran.
2/21/20: COVID-19 starts to spike in Italy.
3/3/20: COVID-19 cases start to spike at an alarming rate in Spain.
3/8/20: The Italian government puts the entire country on an emergency lockdown.
3/11/20: WHO officially declares a “COVID-19 pandemic.” (A pandemic is larger than an epidemic.)
3/13/20: President Trump declares a national emergency in the U.S.
3/19/20: China reports no new locally spread infections for the first time since the initial outbreak in Wuhan.
3/23/20: New York City confirms more than 21K cases, making it the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S.
3/26/20: Total cases in the U.S. reach 82,404, which is the highest in the world, surpassing both China and Italy.
3/31/20: More than 1/3 of humanity is officially on lockdown.
4/2/20: The world passes the grim mark of 1 million COVID-19 infections.
4/7/20: 42 states issue stay-at-home orders. In other words, 95 percent of the nation is under a lockdown.
4/10/20: The global death toll surpasses 100K.
4/14/20: President Trump orders a halt on $400 million in funding for the WHO.
5/11/20: Several countries (except the U.S.) begin to ease lockdown restrictions.
5/21/20: The total number of COVID-19 cases surpasses 5 million.
I must admit, this pandemic shocked me in several ways. There is no other way to put it. I simply have never imagined that a tiny virus discovered in a seafood market would grow in number to kill off almost 2 million people, which is how many people died in the Spanish flu of 1918. It is that bad!
In December of 2019, I was minding my own business when a friend sent me a news article of some “coronavirus” found in Wuhan, China. It was given that name because of its shape, which in some ways resembled a miniscule “corona,” or crown. At first, I put it aside, thinking, “Nah, we’re going to be alright.”
But I never imagined a World War III, humanity vs. a microscopic humanity-killing disease.
Ever since Texas, the state where I live, was locked down, I have not been able to do many of the things that I enjoy. I had just finished the first round of a statewide piano contest and was on my way to spring break vacation when we received the news of the national emergency. At first, I was fuming, but I was not sure of who I was angry at.
For one thing, President Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the grand United States, was slow at picking his reactions. At first, he seemed to be caught off guard, because he was undergoing impeachment trials that were headed by Congress. When the novel coronavirus first came around in the country, he was shocked like I was, but he waved it off. By the time he finally declared a national emergency, everyone was panicking because of the rise of the virus. New York City, Washington, California, and Florida had suffered tremendously. Trump was slow to react. When the lockdown issue was ordered, people grumbled to themselves (but not me).
On the bright side, I got to stay home from school when Governor Greg Abbott declared that all schools will be closed. But it got old quickly. There was not much to do except learn in my free time, practice, and play with the dog. There is only so much family togetherness that I can take sometimes.
Sure, I usually feel that life at home feels better than being at school. But in late May, I sometimes find myself missing the comfort of friends and classmates at school. And in late April, the governor ordered that all schools be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. So basically, I missed three months’ worth of education. Plus, I am going to high school next year. I mean, seriously? Now?
It is good to be at home. I know that much. I think it is a great idea for the country to be closed this long. It protects our health. It preserves humanity (in the big picture). It feels good to be home, with my family. Sure, we drive each other insane every day, but at least we are together. I believe that God wreaked this havoc upon us, but the hidden purpose is to bring us closer together and to have our own moments.
But I guess one way to describe my astonishment is the fact that I never expected that I would experience the deadliest virus outbreak in the history of humanity.
Also, the virus caused people to lose their jobs. Nearly one-fourth of the country does not have occupations. Ever since I heard that news, I worried every day that either Mom or Dad would lose their job. Mom was a physical therapist at Memorial Hermann. Dad was a data analyst.
When I heard that China had reopened the entire country and the lockdown order was lifted, I was relieved. I was relieved that our relatives halfway across the world was okay. One of my relatives lives in Wuhan, and so I naturally freaked. But the 1.5 billion people in China are all back to normal, with the coronavirus under control.
But we are not so lucky here.
When President Trump heard that China had the virus under control, he blew up like a pufferfish. He and FOX News came up with a conspiracy theory, claiming that the coronavirus was a genetically engineered virus that was built to destroy China’s rival, the U.S., and it somehow got out of hand and infected China first. But since now they are okay and the U.S. is not, they became total blockheads. I mean, what kind of theory is that? Trump was obviously just setting everyone else’s sights off of him and started blaming China! Totally racist move there…
(At least, that is the way I would put it. I do not think Trump would agree.)
I just think it is crazy for us to be here now. Heck, I would even claim that we are lucky to be alive right now! But I know that God has kept us protected for a reason, and I am incredibly grateful that I have not fallen into the destructive hands of the novel coronavirus. This is something. I mean, it has infected more than two million people and has at least killed 900,000. But I believe that it will be a long time before we really have the virus under control. There will be a few outbreaks occasionally. But I think it will generally take a few years before we can really settle down and get a cure. Coronavirus is everywhere! I wake up in the morning and freak out, like, What am I going to do to avoid the virus today? But at the end of the day, I think, It is going to be okay. I have made it this far. I just need to keep doing what I already am doing.
I love to spend a lot of time learning at home. This is the reason why I finally decided to join a massive organization called Art of Problem Solving (or AOPS). It is very difficult, but I still gained knowledge. When school ended (along with the work), I spent quite a bit of time attending classes (via Zoom, the conference meeting app) that I thought would be efficient for me and my future. I always feel optimistic when I think about how I can turn this dreadful crisis into a good old-fashioned workhouse and an age of learning. Of course, that is not a bad thing. It is good for me, so I think it will help me in the long run.
But I doubt that after the pandemic blows over, everything will be back to normal. This virus has changed our world in a million different ways. Even school will not be the same anymore. I heard that school will only be in session three days out of five. That will make it worse because not only will I have to work even harder than usual, but my varsity tennis schedule will be messed up. I may not even be able to play tournaments as much as I would like to. In fact, since it might take years to create a vaccine for the coronavirus, the world may never adapt to a “normal” living life. Everything about daily activity will be different; instead of shaking hands in greeting, people might “air” elbow bump. Instead of going to restaurant parties, people might just call via video chat while they eat. When people do have to go out to purchase groceries or something, people will have to take precautions and wash their hands very thoroughly and maybe even must bring face masks. Coronavirus has clearly enhanced our race to build faster and more efficient technology, because we cannot overcome this obstacle without the help of science.
I do not think that the U.S. government has handled this crisis well at all. The president has procrastinated on every important decision, and he always ends up making the wrong choice. He deliberately started advising the use of pills that were filled with a substance called hydroxychloroquine (which is used in bleach). The FDA warned the country that the chemical should not be injected into the body in any way, but the president refused to take their advice. Also, as soon as the country begins to ease restrictions regarding stay-at-home orders, people take advantage of it and begin hitting the bars and parties, which further escalated the number of infections. I just cannot believe that people would be so ignorant of such a deadly virus and would think that it is gone! In other words, as the country begins to open back the floodgates, chaos begins to reign as well. Everyone is ditching their face masks, which is a very important tool to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. I plan on doing my part and stay at home like usual, but everybody else is taking advantage of the quiet streets without any protection or defense from the coronavirus. This is absurd! I do not get why people take this threat lightly.
Recently, I admit, I have been craving some outside food, like Chipotle, one of my favorites. But at home on the weekends, my sister (Kathryn) and I make some delicious dishes. On Mom’s birthday, we recreated our version of Chipotle and made a once-in-a-lifetime meal, where Kathryn spent most of the afternoon cooking. There were foods like chicken cubes, white rice, cheddar cheese, salad, and even some avocados! Another time, Kathryn and I created homemade fajitas, which featured crispy brown chicken and beef, fresh avocado guacamole, salad, cheddar cheese, and a bonus side ingredient: seasoned oven-fried shrimp. Of course, we could not forget making homemade tortillas! Oh, those meals almost brought tears to my eyes. When I grow up, I might even fix those meals even more so than normal. I think they are fun to make! Making the fajitas was time-consuming; we started at three o’clock! But in the end, the food was rewarding, and everyone was satisfied (even the dog).
Speaking of the dog, every day he seems a little sad. When the stay-at-home order was first issued, he was happy and glad we were here, like Gee, I am SO happy you are here! But these days, he spends half of the day sleeping on the kitchen floor or outside, like I wish someone would play with me. It is true, most of us have been too busy to play with Rex (the dog) much. However, though, every time my mother goes outside to inspect the garden, he bounds outside after her, right on her heels. There are a lot of flat tennis balls outside he can play with. Rex seems to always completely misunderstand human actions. One time, my mother and Kathryn were hugging, and he jumped up on his hind legs and tried to hug them as well, which must have hurt. Another time, I was waving a stick in his face and he suddenly grabbed on to it with the strength of a forklift and started tearing it to pieces. No one can imagine what he thinks, and he cannot imagine what we think. It is kind of like a mutual relationship. Something about it just works, I guess.
I cannot reiterate enough how much I miss normal life. Sometimes, I cannot even remember what normal life is. Staying at home is the new normal. Living is the new normal. I love school and learning, and I miss my classmates at school. Fortunately, I have a greater opportunity to learn more at home than I could at school. I may even like learning at home more now than I do at school.
This is by far the deadliest pandemic of all time, even more so than the Spanish Flu of 1918. I never expected that I would live (so to speak, I hope) through this unprecedented time. No one did. Everyone has different views about this crisis. Some people are angry that we cannot go out. Others are satisfied that they can stay at home and miss work and school. Me, I prefer staying at home and going to school online. I want to take this time to catch up on whatever I may be behind on, so that in the future, I can see what this era of coronavirus really has done for me.