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By Jessica Zang

How COVID-19 Affects Communities

Uploaded: Mar 25, 2020

When the coronavirus was first discovered, nobody expected it to blow up the way it did. In fact, the virus was not perceived as dangerous at all until it took lives in China and travelled to members of our county and community. The seemingly unpreventable spread of the virus can incite fear among individuals, instilling a sense of panic in our entire community.

Actions such as panic buying and hoarding reflect the fear we have that this epidemic will never end. Perpetrating this behavior confines valuable resources to our own homes, yet leaves those who may need it more defenseless and undersupplied. It’s reasonable to be more self-serving during these times, and it’s hard to share with others due to the fear of the virus. However, as a kind, caring, community, we should try to make an effort to think of others during this scary pandemic, not leave people without food supplies or things needed to shelter in place because they weren’t able to get to the supermarkets in time.

Yet, despite the instilled fear of the virus, community members are still fighting to do good. Members of Gunn High School have created a group called Gunn Cares, where people are made aware of opportunities where they are able to serve their community and help those in need. Community members all over Palo Alto offer their services to those who are immunocompromised or high risk. These brave and generous actions show the capacity for our community to rise up beyond the fear and selfish actions to care for those who are impacted most by this virus.

Even then, it’s difficult not to see the prejudice involving coronavirus. With blame spreading among members of the community, often racially charged, it’s easy to see division inside of communities, countries, and the world. But despite all of this, it’s important to see past the origins of the virus and respect everybody affected. Generalizing and putting blame on a nationality will not prevent the spread of the virus. Violent attacks of prejudice against any minorities will not aid those in need. It’s time to understand that standing together is what makes communities strong, not creating divisions and encouraging xenophobic hatred.

This virus has taught me a lot about human panic and fear. The vulnerability of people to a fearful virus often leads them to harbor blame and anger. Like many epidemics in the past, such as ebola and the Spanish flu, the origins of epidemics cause tense, racially charged discussions, despite the fact that diseases do not discriminate. People who have never even been to Wuhan or China experience discrimination and bias at the hands of those motivated by fear. Violent attacks have been reported around the world, and people are no longer safe, perhaps even in towns they have lived in their entire lives.

However, this virus has also shown me that this community, as well as our nation, is resilient and helpful in times of crisis. All around the world, people have been contributing to the efforts of providing resources to hospitals, donating food to those in need, and offering service to those who are at high risk. People all around the world are thinking of ingenious solutions to help others and offering their own time, money, and resources to make a real difference. Entrepreneurs, tutors, and engineers offer their services to help the public, free of financial motives. Despite all of the negative news coverage that we are often attracted to, these inspiring actions heavily outweigh any negative activity. They represent the unwavering light of human spirit, and our capacity to be generous and kind, and to sacrifice ourselves to help other people. COVID-19 affects us all, whether in big or small ways. Let this be a time for us to become a tighter-knit community and find ways to push past this virus, while remaining resilient and strong.