We all have to do our part in social distancing

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Ella Beiser

Junior Ella Beiser discusses impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on her family and urges people to follow stay-at-home order

Ella Beiser, News Editor

Brake, mirror, gearshift, mirror, blinker, mirror, gas. I pull silently out of my parking spot and drive home down 57th Street. It is a rare warm day and people are outside socializing in groups. I see dogs running in the park and two teenagers playing Frisbee. It’s a scene that would normally cause me to smile, but today it makes me clench my jaw and grip the steering wheel tighter. 

No, I am not in a bad mood. I am driving my dad home from the University of Chicago Trauma Center after working an eight-hour shift treating COVID-19 patients. As I drive past people, they seem oblivious to the rules of social distancing, yet I am very aware of the impact their actions have on my dad’s job.

Throughout the car ride both my dad and I wear face masks — him an N95 mask from work, and me a home-made cloth mask. I am wearing gloves despite the warm weather, and he sits in the back seat of our minivan. We have barely spoken two words on our ride. 

For some anxious reason, I worry if I open my mouth I will breathe in the coronavirus. 

It’s easy to dismiss precautions when the coronavirus doesn’t have an obvious or imminent effect on your family, but my dad risks his health every day to treat COVID-19 patients. When he comes home, he risks the health of our family. Social distancing is crucial to minimize the amount and length of risk for him, other essential workers and their families, too.

For me, someone without a medical background, I can feel powerless to help and that by doing nothing I am worthless. But that is entirely incorrect — by doing nothing, by which I mean engaging in social distancing, I am doing my part. ”

This pandemic transcends the importance of seeing friends and living your usual lifestyle. It has the ability to impact the economy and livelihood of Americans for years to come, and as of April 20 it has already infected more than 750,000 people across the United States.
If those large-scale consequences aren’t proof enough, then the sheer fact that school sports are canceled, Lab is closed and you can’t sit down for a bite to eat at Medici should make it abundantly clear that this pandemic won’t pass without collaboration and contribution from everyone.

Although social distancing can feel boring, it is not the end of your social life. Social media allows us to connect virtually in an almost effortless manner because you don’t even have to get out of bed to see your friends.

Some people are doing much more. Talking with my dad, he has told me about doctors, who would normally never step foot in the Trauma Center or ICU on an average day, yet are volunteering to take shifts there during the COVID-19 pandemic. These doctors are willingly putting themselves and maybe their families at risk of COVID-19 infection so they can keep the community healthy. 

For me, someone without a medical background, I can feel powerless to help and that by doing nothing I am worthless. But that is entirely incorrect — by doing nothing, by which I mean engaging in social distancing, I am doing my part. 

According to The New York Times, this pandemic has claimed the jobs of over 22 million people over the past month, exceeding the unemployment claims during the Great Depression. 

The impact that this virus has had on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans is vast. Due to different living situations it may not be not possible for everyone to maintain a safe social distance, but to those where it is an option: it is your responsibility to comply with the rules. 

Don’t extend this pandemic any further than it already has been. Chicago has closed schools, restaurants, parks and more, thus limiting opportunities for in-person social interaction. 

So if at all possible, do your part. For the sake of everyone’s health, follow the safety guidelines, don’t go out without a reason and stay healthy. My family thanks you for it.