Editor’s Note: This post was written by PTK alumna Cearra Moore. It originally appeared on Oxford Stories from the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media. It is republished here with her permission.
20th Birthday? Cancelled.
Face-to-face visitation with disabled father? Cancelled.
Graduation commencement? Postponed.
Classes? Transitioned to online.
If you had asked me at the beginning of this year how I thought the rest of 2020 would be, my answer would not have been what things have become.
When I first heard about the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, it was merely just a virus affecting individuals halfway across the world. I didn’t really start becoming concerned until I was alerted that we may not be returning to campus after spring break.
Throughout the same week of spring break, I was informed that the nursing home my father resides in due to his cerebrovascular accident had been locked down due to COVID-19 and reopening was to be announced.
Soon my thoughts started to mostly be about my mother and fathers’ safety. Both individuals are middle-aged victims of cerebrovascular accidents and have diabetes.
At the beginning of this unfortunate time, it was said that older people and diabetics were the most likely to be affected. So of course, my thoughts started to run wild with negativity.
That news has changed over time. This virus is capable of affecting anyone who isn’t cautious.
Since realizing the severity of COVID-19, I have made it my mission to call my father as much as I can and practice social distancing as best as I can so that my mother, very young niece, and nephew aren’t affected.
According to the state department of health website, cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease and strokes, is the leading cause of death in Mississippi, the highest in the nation. The Centers for Disease Control reports that almost 8,000 people died of CVD in 2017.
African Americans make up less than 40 percent of Mississippi’s population, yet they represent 72 percent of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. While COVID-19 has interrupted more than 3 million lives and claimed over 225,000 lives worldwide, of the 60,000 United States deaths, there have been around 6,000 cases in Mississippi and 229 deaths.*
It is closing in on cancer (6,526 deaths in 2017) as the second leading cause of death in Mississippi, according to the CDC.
If I were to say I do not fear for my life, I would be telling a tale. I am currently considered an “essential worker” because of my position as a sales associate, and no matter how many lengths I go to try and stay safe, I know there is absolutely no way I can completely refrain from coming in contact with any germs.
For six hours a day, I am touching money, the filthiest of the filthy in the world. Along with handling money, I am recovering items in the store that customers have touched, dealing with customers who are not always willing to stay at least six feet away from others, and trying to keep shopping carts clean.
I fear becoming exposed, but it does not even compare to how worried I am of possibly exposing the individuals I live with. I come home, immediately take off work clothes, and freshen up.
I have had to tell my niece and nephew to back up when I make it home because I do not want their hugs to lead to them becoming sick.
These times are extremely unfortunate, and we were not prepared for them. However, I feel it is important that we remember to keep God first and try to see the bright side.
If you have not lacked anything during this pandemic or been affected, you should definitely wake up thankful.
I get up every day and get ready, worried about what the day will possibly bring, but I try my best not to complain or wish for something different because I understand that there are people out there who have lost their jobs and have no other form of income during this untimely and detrimental time.
I truly wish we had all taken this more serious before, and even now. It bothers me when I see individuals still hanging out in large groups because they are not only putting themselves at risk, but also everyone they live with and more.
My mind also tends to wonder why people come out to the stores and bring their whole families with them. It would definitely be a lot safer and more reasonable if only one person came and got all their needs for the home.
My heart aches for families who have lost loved ones to this virus and for fellow citizens who can’t see elderly family members who reside in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers.
I know I cannot stop this virus myself, and that none of us can, so I can only continue to hope and pray for better.
Until this thing has completely blown over, I will continue to do my best at trying to stay safe. My vehicle has become home to several plastic gloves, face masks, and travel-sized bottles of hand sanitizer.
It is one thing to be cautious, but it’s a lot more complicated when this virus is steadily developing biological mechanisms.
I can only hope that this virus does not take many more lives than it has already successfully claimed. To the people who lost battles against COVID-19, rest in love and peace. As individuals of all communities, I cannot stress enough how important it is that you think of yourself and others during this time and try your best to stay in as much as you can.
These times may seem extremely unfortunate but they can definitely be worse.
Expressing concerns from the small town of Oakland, Mississippi, I cannot even imagine the type of mischief this virus has caused to immense places across the world.
*Numbers as of April 28, 2020
Cearra Moore, 19, is a junior journalism major with a minor in digital sales media. She was born and raised in a small town north of Mississippi. Moore is known for her optimistic mindset and caring ways. As the daughter of two disabled victims of cerebrovascular accidents, she refuses to take life and her time given for granted. Moore often mentions that she tries to live by the phrase “the sky’s the limit.”
She finished her high school career with honors prior to recently graduating from Itawamba Community College early with honors. Along with being in the top percent of her high school graduating class, she was also a member of BETA and Upward Bound. Moore now works part-time while being a full-time student and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa.