by Annalee Durland-Jones
Throughout history, seasonal epidemics and pandemics have occurred throughout the world. With a large selection of rural hospitals falling behind, and sometimes even closing, minority populations are facing inadequate and unreliable accessibility to healthcare. From a lack of access to healthcare to common misconceptions about the role of one’s race in health-related issues, it is clear that it is not a coincidence that COVID-19 has a higher fatality rate in the United States for those that are in a minority race, but instead a glimpse into the healthcare crisis within the United States.
This reflective photo series aims to show that while everything has changed due to the COVID-19 epidemic, day to day life must still go on for many. This series focusses on my own personal experiences and the daily tasks which now makes up my daily life
Freshman year of college, some of the first advice I got was to never do homework in bed. This semester, the bed seems to be the only place that I do any work. Whether it is rolling out of bed one minute before class to log into zoom or cooking breakfast and sipping a fresh cup of coffee while logging into a virtual church service, attending everything virtually has become the new normal. This new normal feels funny. I still have not gotten into this new rhythm of life. Instead of trying to make myself put together for class, I find myself trying to see how little I can do to still appear somewhat professional. While Zoom can feel almost like real life, it is still so important to remember it is not. In real life we can’t hide our faces or put ourselves on mute so that our colleagues do not hear is muttering to ourselves. I find myself wondering what this new normal really is when in reality it is anything but normal.
How do we choose if one life is essential and the other is not? Throughout COVID-19 who we support verse who we do not support seems to be contradictory at a sickening rate. When grocery store employees go on strike to demand a living wage instead of a minimum wage, most people turn a cheek, but throughout the COVID-19 crisis, paper yard signs appear in support of support for postal workers and grocery workers pop up everywhere. How can people go from saying workers are disposable to workers are essential.
One day this past summer I found myself feeling incredibly sick-upset stomach, insanely dizzy, and super light sensitive. I thought nothing of it until it happened again the next time I came home from a grocery store. Ever since the pandemic began, we have been drowning ourselves in hand sanitizer and I found that it was the very hand sanitizer that was making me feel sick. I quickly searched google and found that I, like hundreds of others had been experiencing symptoms from what I thought was a safe substance. The FDA has had to recall over 149 hand sanitizers containing Methanol over the last six months. Methanol is a type of alcohol that is toxic when ingested and may be harmful when applied directly to the skin. The FDA is facing a bombardment of new brands and companies attempting to create hand sanitizer and is having issues in enforcing standards of quality before it goes on the market. With such a high demand for the product, consumers barely have a chance to think before purchasing products.
In an attempt to stock up on necessities, at the beginning of the pandemic, it was nearly impossible to find toilet paper, hand sanitizer, tissues, or other items that society considered essential. Many people attempted to profiteer from the pandemic for selling brand name bottles of Lysol and hand sanitizer for price margins of 600%.
Stores have begun putting limits on products deemed essential. From empty shelves to warning signs that products are out of stock walking into a store can feel like walking into a purge. A simple action of getting necessities has turned into a life-threatening task.
While all of these experiences are somewhat new and definitely weird, this is our new normal. From matching outfits to face masks, to people sewing hundreds of PPEs for hospitals, this is a different way of life. Looking back, it feels weird to think six months ago I had no issue sharing drinks with friends or being in a movie theater with a random stranger coughing behind me. This pandemic is not only creating a shift in our culture but creating a different outlook on our past.
Created in partnership with Guilford College's Peace and Conflict Studies Department.
Special Thanks to Zulfiya Tursonova.
Special Thanks to Zulfiya Tursonova.