By Cristina Paolozzi, March 17 2020—
Why is everyone buying toilet paper? Did I remember to grab my extra bottle of hand sanitizer? Does having a sore throat mean that I should call 8-1-1? What the heck do I do for two weeks in “social isolation?” And what does that even mean? The concerns and commotion over the COVID-19 pandemic have been the cause of increased anxiety and frustration over the past few days. The university has moved their classes online, all travel has been suspended or strongly advised against, museums and institutions are closing their doors and public gatherings over 250 people have been cancelled — this includes concerts, club events and even sporting events and theatre shows. It’s very easy to look at all the crazy line-ups at grocery stores on social media and not wonder if you should also be panic-buying Lysol for the incoming apocalypse.
The impact of this pandemic has also affected the wider Calgary community. Small businesses are feeling the brunt of the lack of customers frequenting their stores and the arts and sports scenes have no audiences to entertain for their shows. Alberta Theatre Projects have temporarily suspended all performances, and sports leagues like the NHL and the NBA have completely called off the 2019–20 season. All areas of our city are being challenged and with the oil prices dropping, it continues to look like an uphill battle.
One of the best ways to cope with extreme and confusing circumstances is finding a community with a group of people that you feel safe and comfortable with. However, this pandemic has even eliminated the prospects of finding physical connections with our peers — especially for the extroverts out there, this can seem almost impossible.
The coming days or weeks trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is an uncertain path that all of us will have to walk. But, let’s be clear — it is not the end of the world. These cancellations and remote learning strategies are being implemented to decrease the spread of germs, as well as to protect the members of our community that may be immunocompromised. The risk level in Calgary is still low, but ensuring that you are taking precautions before running errands and practicing self-isolation whenever possible is what’s best for our city and campus community right now. If you do need to interact with others or travel around the city, make sure you’re maintaining proper social distancing of two meters between people, eliminating personal contact like handshakes or hugs and covering your mouth with your elbow when coughing or sneezing are good pieces of etiquette to maintain.
A sense of community can also be found remotely. Technology is something that everyone has access to, so FaceTime, Skype or other video chat services are definitely options to keep in touch with your friends and family. As well, in the midst of massive line-ups to buy out the grocery store’s supply of hand soap, remembering this community means a lot more — if no one has access to cleaning products or items that could help kill the spread of germs, it’ll only get harder eliminating the spread of this virus, especially to members of the community who may be more at-risk.
Information is changing everyday. It’s important to stay updated and in-the-know regarding the ongoing changes with COVID-19. Anxieties can rise and concerns about the health of our loved ones still seem like an uncertainty. But it is equally, if not more important to know that all of these precautions are for the safety of our city and community. This will pass, and we will move on. And all those crazy boomers will still have 72 rolls of toilet paper.
This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.