What I’ve Learned During Covid-19 (Part One)

The worldwide pandemic that has gripped every person in a vice grip of self-doubt has taken its toll on everybody. Some people are suffering from the threat of eviction or losing their small business. Large companies like JCPenney and Hertz, already suffering before the quarantine, are officially going out of business. Others have lost loved ones to the virus, not getting to say goodbye in person because of quarantine. For me personally, many aspects of my life have been put on hold while others have blossomed in ways I never would have expected.

This topic will be covered in more than one post because of my bad habit of being overly wordy and rambling tendencies when I write. It will also be in more than one because I am consistently learning new things and find that there are far too many lessons learned already to cover in only one post.

The Pay Problem

I understood that my job was a smaller paying employment that was helping provide supplemental income while I finished school. My fiancee is the current breadwinner at her job, and my income was there for the sole purpose of giving us some extra money to help pay bills and provide. This was never an issue and was understood that it was temporary.

Covid-19 then reared its ugly head, and I was no longer receiving that supplemental income due to the business loss from the pandemic. I was laid off and told to apply for unemployment as quickly as I could.

Upon applying for unemployment, I quickly learned that I would be receiving around $300 less a week than when I was when working. I have a relatively decent understanding of how unemployment works, so I wasn’t surprised to learn I would be making far less. Again, my income is purely supplemental, so while this predicament would require a finer tuned budgeting process, it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen.

Then the stimulus money began to trickle down from the relief bill. Soon, I was making almost $300 more per week than when I worked. I brought in approximately $400 a week for my supplemental income, and now I was getting around $700.

From my understanding, financial analysts and economists in the government got together, ran some numbers, did their research, and came to the conclusion that $600 extra per week was about the approximate value needed for the average American to have enough money to pay bills.

For somebody that makes $70,000 a year, this extra $600 with their unemployment might seem unnecessary but welcome. For somebody like myself, where I only bring in $20,000 a year, that $600 is unbelievable. While the unemployment only lasts until July, the extra $600 a week bumps my yearly salary to over $36,000.

This begs the conundrum of whether my employer could afford to pay me more or if this is an anomaly during a time of uncertainty and unprecedented change. I don’t perform the budgeting for my company, nor do I know of its details, but I will continue to wonder about the pay scale and how accurate that hourly pay is for my position given what I’m making per week on unemployment when the extra $600.

This also brought up a myriad of swirling confusions about those currently working as “essential” workers. Some businesses are paying a couple extra dollars per hour to their workers during this, but many of them aren’t doing much to pay their employees extra for working during Covid-19. Unfortunately, those workers can’t quit their jobs because voluntarily quitting does not allow for unemployment. If they contract Covid-19, they can receive unemployment due to not being able to work, but they cannot quit and receive it.

Understandably so, minimum wage has been a hotly debated topic for the last few years. Both sides of the argument have strong merit, but no specific advantage has been gained by either side. I actually make far above minimum wage at my job, but I feel nothing but sympathy and sadness at the pay gap now that I’ve lived through unemployment with the extra money for the past two months.

There is a major problem with the pay scale and how businesses pay their employees, and it took Covid-19 for me to really see the disparity.

Importance of Washing Hands and Sanitizing

Before Covid-19 became a prominent part of our lives, hand washing and sanitizing always seemed like a nominal exercise. I would wash my hands after using the restroom and before eating food. However, I never really thought critically about fully sanitizing the table before a meal or wiping down doorknobs and frequently touched surfaces. The thought of doing so seemed trivial in nature.

Before Covid-19 reached the level of intensity at which it currently resides, I was already beginning to take on certain aspects of those cleaning tasks. The Safer at Home order wasn’t instituted in my state yet, and I was still working every day. It wasn’t until this all began that I realized how often a surface is touched during an eight hour shift.

I was washing my hands every 10 to 15 minutes, wiping down the front desk after every single guest, and wiping down pens, phones, keyboards, scissors, and other items after almost every touch. It’s impossible to realize the domino effect of a spreading sickness until you are put in a situation where it’s actually happening around the world.

Wash your hands often, don’t touch your face, and sanitize frequently touched areas.

The Selfishness of People

Personally, I believe that most people are inherently selfish. Each person is selfish in his or her own way, but selfishness exists in ways untold until the pandemic became prominent. Allow me to explain what I view as selfishness and how it has affected us in ways that can be seen all over.

When the pandemic first took hold in our world, the United States went through a period where almost every single store was out of toilet paper, sanitizing wipes/cleaners, and hand sanitizer. Whether it was pure panic that set into the supposedly courageous minds of our population or pure selfishness is still unknown. What I can tell you is that I personally witnessed some of my family members unable to procure toilet paper at all because people bought out stores in just a few days.

What makes me laugh about that entire affair is the fact that people who bought out the toilet paper and hand sanitizer were the same people posting on social media about ending the quarantine and then subsequently marched on state capitols with assault rifles so they could go eat at restaurants again. Why were you stocking up on so many items if you were going to leave your house two months later?

Which then leads to the selfish arguments of how the quarantines were suppressing our rights to go and do as we please. Perhaps you were correct. Perhaps them saying we had to stay at home except for essential items was a suppression of our rights. Regardless of whether you were right or wrong, here’s the major problem with that whole situation.

Let’s assume your household consists of you, your significant other, and your two children. You go to work, your significant other works, and you have a babysitter for the two kids. When you get to work, you’re congregating in the break room, and somebody there has Covid-19. You breathe in air droplets from that person. Now you have Covid-19. You come home and decide you want to go out to eat that night. All four of you go out to eat. At this point, the two kids and your significant other most likely have Covid-19 as well. Remember, it takes anywhere between 2-14 days for symptoms to appear (or you could be asymptomatic).

You go out to eat and your server, the host, and two nearby tables breathe in the air droplets or touch stuff you touched after you coughed in your hand (you chose not to wear a mask because it’s your right). They all now have Covid-19. The server goes home where she’s taking care of her elderly grandmother. Grandmother gets it. The host goes home and her husband and three kids now have it. Her husband goes to work the next day, his coworkers now have it. Remember, wearing a mask doesn’t protect you from getting it, it protects others if you happen to be sick. If every single person is wearing a mask, the chances of getting sick are incredibly low.

Your kids get the babysitter sick, and she goes home and gets her family sick. Nobody has any symptoms yet, so nobody knows they have it. Then the first person gets their symptoms, and soon everybody realizes they have to contact all the people they’ve been in contact with (or not, because you’re sick and they’re not your problem, right?)

You started a domino effect because your rights were impeded upon by the Safer at Home orders. God forbid you think about the dozens of people you’ll come into contact with throughout your day. Their lives don’t matter, right? As long as you can get your cheeseburger and haircut, it doesn’t matter if other people die. That’s completely irrelevant as it doesn’t affect you at all. Funny how that mindset was different when gay marriage was on the table or when LGBTQ people gained protections under Obamacare. These people that have absolutely no effect on your lives suddenly impacted you so it had to be stopped! That, my friends, is selfishness, ignorance, and naivete.

When the Safer at Home orders were instituted, I personally watched people separated from their loved ones. They wanted to keep them safe, so they went months without seeing them so they wouldn’t get sick. They wanted to protect them. But I also witnessed so many people getting together for Easter dinners, backyard barbecues, and just to hang out with loved ones. It’s selfish to think you were immune to the sickness and you really needed to see loved ones in person when we live in an age of FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Discord, and Facebook messenger.

So many people out there don’t understand the domino effect that Covid-19 has on people’s lives. It doesn’t take much to spiral a single family get together into a domino effect of hundreds, possibly thousands, of people getting sick.

Is critical thinking and educated intelligence a thing of the past? Is anybody capable of approaching a situation and analyzing it from an objective standpoint even possible anymore? Or has the world become all about ME, ALWAYS ME?

I am a selfish person too. But at least I was kind enough to think of other people and how my actions would have affected them during all of this.

I wear a mask. I stayed home during the Safer at Home orders. I washed my hands on a consistent basis. I did not travel.

Call me a sheep all you want, but instead, I am thinking of my loved ones and the loved ones of strangers, and how their life preservation is more important than my need to go have a cheeseburger in McDonald’s dining room.

Click here to read four disease prevention experts rank the dangers of doing different activities now that Safer at Home orders have been lifted.

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