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Coronavirus, through 23-year-old eyes

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In what seemed like the snap of a finger, things turned upside down.

Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Writer’s note: I know this is a Mizzou blog, but this piece won’t talk all that much about Mizzou. And right now, I think that’s OK.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020, started off just like any other Wednesday. With no classes on the day, I slept in a little, woke up, ate breakfast, watched some TV, ate lunch, did some homework and went to the Mizzou rec center. My normal Wednesday routine.

Just before 5 p.m., everyone at MU received an email. “Chancellor Alexander Cartwright announced that in-person classes will be suspended beginning at 5 p.m. today, March 11 through Sunday, March 15,” the email read, also noting that what are now this week’s classes would be held remotely. All of this due to COVID-19, or what most people refer to as coronavirus.

I’d heard about it before that day. I knew it started somewhere in China, I knew Italy was dealing with it and I knew there were some cases around the U.S. But still, I was ignorant to it. Not until I saw the email did I feel any effects from the outbreak, and even then I thought, “Maybe this will be as bad as it gets.”

Within a couple of hours, Rudy Gobert became the NBA’s patient zero, and the league suspended its season minutes later. The next day, college basketball conference tournaments were canceled, culminating in the NCAA canceling all winter and spring championships, including its moneymaker, March Madness.

Just before 7 p.m. Friday, we received another email from the UM System. We were told all in-person classes would be taught remotely instead for the rest of the semester. Essential buildings would remain open, but the recreation centers would close. All non-essential events would be postponed/canceled. The landscape of college had changed in what seemed like the snap of a finger.

And at that moment, it hit me.

I covered my last Mizzou game ever and didn’t know it. I took my last in-person college class and didn’t know it. I worked out at the rec for the last time and didn’t know it. I performed with the dance team I joined a year ago (one of the coolest things I got to do in college, much love for Production Dance) for the last time and didn’t know it. And the graduation ceremony I have worked so hard to get to is most likely not going to happen. “OK now,” I thought, “this is too real.”

Even with all that happening, my actions didn’t change right away. I was still going out to packed bars filled to the brim with kids my age (college students truly are fearless, probably to our own detriment). It wasn’t until a couple of days ago that I finally started to smarten up. I called my parents back home in Chicago on Sunday, talking to them about what’d been going on the past few days. They were at the grocery store, stocking up on food, supplies, water… and White Claws. You know, the essentials (also, remember when a White Claw shortage was the worst news in our country?).

I talked to them about my family and how they were doing, which is when it finally hit me how selfish I was being. I’m a young and healthy 23-year-old. Supposedly, I’m part of the group of people who have the best shot at surviving this. But when I was talking to my parents, I thought about my grandparents.

I’ve been lucky enough to have both sets of grandparents in my life for almost 24 years now, and I love them to pieces. I would never want to do anything that put their health in jeopardy. I really started to consider the conditions of both my grandfathers: Pablo, who’s had a heart transplant, and Raul, who’s had multiple heart attacks. I started panicking on the phone, telling my parents I didn’t know if I wanted to go visit them when I went home for spring break. My parents had some of the same fears, and now I don’t know the next time I’ll see my grandparents in person.

This social distancing thing is gonna hurt like a b****.

The world is changing before our very eyes. I’m not about to be the person stocking up on toilet paper, but I guess I see why others are — we don’t know when this is going to end, really. We’re going to live in a world without much human contact for a while. Schools will be closed, people will be out of work.

And I guess if we want to be a little superficial, we’re not going to have sports for a while, either.

I won’t get to see Mizzou softball and baseball throw their postseason bans back in the NCAA’s face. I won’t get to cover the Mizzou spring football game. I won’t get to watch my Chicago teams until May at the earliest (though I can’t say I’m too upset I won’t have to watch the Bulls lose every other day).

It’s going to be a very weird time in our lives, one we really can’t see ending for the time being.

But for now, wash your hands, cover your coughs, avoid going out for unnecessary reasons (I know people still have to go to work, so keep doing what you have to do) and above all, just believe that we’ll get through it. The world has gotten through things like this before, and I’m confident we will again.

In The Dark Knight – aka the greatest movie of all time – Harvey Dent says, “The night is darkest just before the dawn.” I do think there’s still some darkness ahead of us, probably even darker than it is now. But the way Dent finishes his line is exactly what’s gotten me through this last week: “I promise you, the dawn is coming.”