Special Coronavirus Edition: Michael Paine

As a high school student living during this unprecedented time, I have had a front-row seat to the impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This current situation has captured the attention of the nation. I believe that the public perception of the virus is not an overreaction; instead, it’s a lack of clear information that has further exposed the flaws in our current media climate. A media company increases its profit as traffic increases to articles or videos, so it’s only natural for them to generate as much content as possible to increase ad sales, even if it overwhelms the viewer, leaving them panicked and misinformed. 

Being a student, my identity is defined by school, and this crucial aspect of my life has been ripped away at an inopportune time, but we can adapt. On online schooling, it is a good chance to develop new routines and work at your own pace, helping to prepare for college, but it is a pathetic substitute for real learning and in-class interaction with your peers and teachers. Unapologetically, I would have much rather spent these last precious weeks of my high school career making memories on campus, not on Google Classroom. It is a shame that this crisis occurred, but more importantly, we should do what we can to move past the victim mindset, understand that things happen for us, not to us, and use this time as an opportunity for developing personal growth and empathy. Also, Zoom features a user experience that I am currently using for AP Lit along with face-timing friends nightly to catch up. Looking towards the future, colleges have released admission decisions and have provided students with SIR deadline extensions. The AP test has now turned virtual, into a new 45 min FRQ test, and outside learning with Khan Academy, Duolingo, Coursera, and Cambridge University textbooks are now free. It is a trying time without a doubt, but we will get through this together. The best tool in our toolbox to combat the virus is social distancing. Social distancing is an effective way to slow transmission of the virus, but it is important to recognize that many people are employed by the school district or rely on resources such as reduced-cost lunch to help support themselves. The real question is how long the shutdown can last before negative consequences begin to emerge, and how we balance that with the public health crisis. Additionally, systems of authority were caught unprepared by the severity of this situation. The government is doing their “best,” but the simple fact is that so little of our nation’s budget goes toward preparing for a situation like this, compared to national defense, for example, that the bureaucracy is caught off guard and we have a sense of American invincibility when we see countries becoming affected by the virus overseas, and believe we are sheltered from its impacts. In order to manage this crisis, the government offered a stimulus package of around 2 trillion dollars, in line with estimations from Ray Dalio, to stabilize the economy. The government should also take steps to further testing availability and affordability, find ways to manufacture more N95 masks and respirators, hand sanitizer, and project a realistic yet optimistic public image that we will get through this time, but it will not be ceasing soon or getting any easier. However, we can prevent the spread of coronavirus by following all the recommended procedures by the CDC, WHO, and academic expert researchers.

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