May 28, 2020
Judy Ashton, Nursing Program, Health Sciences
As the dust begins to settle in the wake of COVID19 and the unprecedented quarantine—or “pause”—that it generated, our country begins to slowly look towards reopening itself for political and economic reasons rather than ones of scientific fact. After sixty plus days of social isolation and restrictions, our nation is buckling at the seams, as many Americans are desperate to make a return to normalcy, motivated by such flimsy grounds as wanting a hair-cut or missing summer vacations, or more pressing matters such as mortgage payments and basic groceries.
As a registered nurse, I feel for the nurses and front-line health care workers who have risked health and home to combat this disease. They go into the field and into hospitals fully aware that they will be exposed to a deadly and mysterious illness; their bravery is commendable. The situation nurses face has brought back bad memories from when, as a newly-minted nurse, I was hurled into the midst of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. At that time, science knew little about HIV, and I was without proper administrative support, adequate training, or personal protective equipment.
The pains of the COVID pandemic have multiplied as recent news outlets and social media sources re-expose the unjustified violence and racism perpetrated against African-Americans. In my mind are images of people of color killed in the streets of Minneapolis and at home in Louisville, and harassed in the groves of Central Park. With most people glued to their phones and televisions, the masses have had time to analyze wrongdoings that have led to the familiar racial tensions of past decades.
For those of us who reflect on our time in quarantine, the experience has been a double-edged sword. I have lost neighbors who lived next to me for many years. For over two months, I have not seen close friends and family. The graduations, proms, and time-sensitive career appointments of my children, now in the pivotal years of their young adult lives, have been canceled or postponed.
However, from this unfortunate period have come many positive experiences. I’ve had bonding time with the family. My children and I have spent many nights laughing, conversing, and binging Netflix into the early morning. I’ve had time to read and think, re-evaluate my lesson plans, and fine-tune my teaching skills. Finally, I’ve had time to rest my mind and my body from the fatigues of the everyday hustle and commute. I believe we should always focus on the positives. If we all do so, we will return to “normalcy” more grateful, more prepared, and happier than ever before.