What different generations experience in the face of COVID-19
By Cory L. Higgs
While reports show that older adults are more at risk of contracting the coronavirus, it does not discriminate based on age. Severe symptoms and, in some cases, death, also reported in younger patients.
As health experts continue to recommend self-isolating as a way to limit social interactions and the potential spread of the illness, many are starting to feel lasting impacts.
From financial issues, mental health, education, entertainment, all aspects of life have been impacted, and each generation is finding itself facing problems the other wouldn’t have imagined.
Perhaps one of the most socially impacted groups in Patrick County is the graduating class of 2020. “My entire senior year kind of just vanished. Spring semester was supposed to be when all the fun senior activities happen, and now, I essentially have nothing,” said Alessandra Moran, 17, of Woolwine, a senior at Patrick County High School.
Moran is on track to graduate at the end of this academic year, however the virus had other plans. One of her biggest concerns is what will happen before and after graduation, she said, adding that many of her peers have waited 4 to 5 years only to have this moment ripped away from them.
“Everyone’s lives have been put on pause. It’s like everything’s happening, but nothing’s happening all at once. None of us know how to properly deal with something like this,” she said. Despite her frustrations, she reports that she is doing her part and staying home as much as possible.
Moran added that she and many of her peers have never seen such a crisis in their lives and that many are panicked and scared. Her silver lining is that she is getting to spend more time with family and enjoying plenty of bonding while still attending virtual classes.
-Young Adult’s Perspective-
Kevin Wood, 26, of Dry Pond, brings to the table what many young adults have to grasp in the shadow of a looming local pandemic.
“It hadn’t impacted me much before last Thursday when work was closed. Where Stuart is a small town, and it hasn’t made its way here just yet, life feels kind of normal but ominous at the same time,” he said.
Wood works at Ten Oaks and was furloughed on April 2 as the company made the decision to keep their employees safe. Wood said his biggest concern with COVID-19 was for his older family members, and he sympathized with those in New York City as they” seem to be struggling for medical supplies,” he said.
Wood said he is doing his part by staying home, kicking his feet up and limiting the contact he has with the outside world. He said that others around his age seemed to be doing the same from what he has seen, avoiding older generations and keeping to small groups.
On the positive side, Wood says a silver-lining to the pandemic is that pollution levels around the globe have dropped, and polluted areas have seen a resurgence in wildlife.
Denise Stirewalt, 55, and a member of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors representing the Peters Creek District, said she has been impacted by the day to day things we all take for granted – like handshakes, hugs, leaving the house, being around others.
“I miss seeing my parents, children, and grandchildren, although we talk and Facetime every night. I continuously think about the health and well-being of my friends, family, county staff, and the staff at the radio station” said Stirewalt, who also manages WHEO.
But after contracting the virus and spreading it, her biggest concern is the impact it would have on Patrick County.
“Do we have enough supplies and equipment needed to protect our public safety staff and volunteers if the virus starts to spread in the county,” she wondered.
Like many, Stirewalt is washing her hands and wearing a facemask when around others. She also is continually disinfecting surfaces.
“If you don’t have to go to an essential job, please stay home,” she said. “If you need groceries, medication, or anything, ask a neighbor or church member that does have to go out, to run errands for you. For those that have to be at an essential job, please take precautions to protect you and those around you.”
Stirewalt said a silver-lining for her is the ability to get some extra work done from the comfort of her home. She and added that when she feels uneasy, she recites a favorite Bible verse to ease her mind.
While the other age groups have a varying degree of vulnerability, our seniors are most at risk, but like everyone else, they are holding on and waiting for quarantine to be over.
Ann Cockram, 80, of Meadows of Dan, said she hadn’t been impacted by the virus because she’s a homebody, but now, she and her husband, Ron are feeling its impacts.
She said she and her husband used to do a lot of their own shopping and errands, but now they heavily rely on family to complete those tasks. Cockram said she and her husband suffer from health issues that put them in a dangerous place navigating the virus. She added that she misses visitors and visiting the family’s gristmill on the weekends.
These trying times reminded her of her childhood in Washington D.C .,during WW2 when houses were fitted with blackout curtains, and sirens sounded warning of a coming air raid, she said. Her father was a pilot with Capital Airlines, according to Cockram, who said she remembers shortages much like now. She recalled that butter was hard to come by and that a family would often get a bag of lard with a dye to smash and mix to give the appearance of butter.
Now as then, Cockram said we have to keep on trucking and stay positive.
Quarantine restrictions stay in place for the commonwealth until June 10; however, it is still unknown whether that will be the cut-off for self-isolating.
For updates on the latest COVID-19 information visit www.CDC.gov.