Artist Luba Drozd makes protective shields for health workers in her apartment on her 3D printers on March 27, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Together with friends, she started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to buy more supplies and printers. Since launching her campaign on March 24, she is overwhelmed with requests for PPEs from frontline healthcare workers. Misha Friedman/Getty Images

Community During COVID-19

We need to deal with this pandemic together.

A wide-scale viral pandemic has never happened in my lifetime. Neither my parents nor my grandparents have ever experienced anything like this, but viruses have always existed in our world. When we talk about a possible flu pandemic, it is not a matter of if but when, according to the recent Netflix documentary, “Pandemic.” Pandemics like COVID-19 have always infected our planet: The Spanish Flu of 1918, Swine Flu, SARS and Ebola. However, our world has overcome them. How? As a community.

One of the four factors of a flu epidemic is that it is highly contagious, meaning it spreads by person to person contact. We are all affected by each other’s choices, whether we like it or not because we live in a community. In a recent New York Times article, Alexis Soloski writes about how a community is shaped through theater during times like this. As an audience member, you have a responsibility to support emerging artists. There are many communities that define how we think of responsibility. For example, the Jewish community creates a weekly space for us to gather in order to learn responsibility for each other and our religion. We have certain obligations, and usually, these tasks are delegated in different congregations. But what does a responsible community look like? Soloski says, “to live in community means to work to protect community.” In terms of community during COVID-19, we all rely on one another, and it is everyone’s responsibility to stay home, get vaccinated and take proper precautions to prevent the spread. We need to protect not just ourselves, but each other; one community member’s actions can save a life.

Mindful community health practices are seen in the Torah. In Numbers chapter 5, verse 3, God commands the children of Israel to “Remove male and female alike; put them outside the camp so that they do not defile the camp of those in whose midst I dwell.” This isolation shows a communal responsibility that all the Israelites have to each other. When one is sick, everyone is affected. That is why we all must take responsibility for this virus—sick or healthy, poor or wealthy, young or old, we all are part of this world. Of course, no one wants to stay home, but that is what is right and what is responsible. Having the mindset that carrying on with your regular life during a pandemic is not going to affect anyone means being an irresponsible citizen. 

Another aspect of community during a time like this is a source of hope. It is extremely hard to find hope in a time of crisis, and community is another way we can maintain hope to reassure us that in fact, the world is not ending. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Humans are the ones creating this fear (or ‘public panic’ as the documentary “Pandemic” refers to it). Instead of frantically buying toilet paper at the grocery store (which is not the most important thing in a time of crisis), try instilling hope in your neighbors and friends. Tell them everything will be okay if we take the necessary precautions. Only go to the grocery store when it is truly necessary, and don’t overbuy; leave food for those who need it. If you’re stuck in quarantine, FaceTime your friends to assure them that we’ve gone through this before and we will certainly be able to get through it again.

I know that it’s frightening because nothing as serious has happened in our lifetimes, but it’s comforting to know that the world has dealt with similar occurrences. After talking with my history teacher, I was relieved to know that diseases are something that has always been present. The question is how society chooses to deal with different pandemics. I think that we should choose to deal with this as a community, to truly look out for one another and know that our actions affect other people’s lives.

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Ada Perlman is a junior at The Ellis School in Pittsburgh. She is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.

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