Health / National / Opinion & Editorial

Storm of coronavirus challenges university students, businesses: a Norfolk State student’s first-hand observations

by Ian Williams

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a quiet storm making its way inside households. Unlike most storms, it is neither seen nor heard. It shows no sign of approaching, and more importantly, no sign of leaving. This sudden storm shows no pattern in claiming its victims causing those at risk to adjust. All have been affected in a big way, including the lives of me and my family.

Currently, the storm has left me to live with my big brother, Nigel, and his roommate in Richmond, Virginia. It seems almost unreal to see a schedule set in stone get blown away like dust due to COVID-19.

The transition for Nigel has not been much of a struggle. He works in wealth management meaning most of his job happens through a computer. Rather than be in an office where he can have face to face interactions, he has been able to work at home and call his clients.

“Fortunately, the COVID-19 has not done much to remove me from my line of business,” said Nigel. “However, in today’s condition, I am more than aware that I am one of the more fortunate people.”

Normally, I don’t get to see my twin brother until the summer or some holidays because of the requirements of college life. Noah Williams is an Applied Engineering and Technology major at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. I am a student-athlete at Norfolk State University majoring in Mass Communication with a focus on Journalism. Usually, his studying and everyday schoolwork would keep him busy in his apartment, and my practice and writing would keep me busy in my dorm room. However, COVID-19 has removed us from our normal locations and put us under the same roof to manage ourselves.

“I don’t want to do it,” said Noah. “It defeats the purpose of going to school. It defeats the purpose of paying an out of state tuition, and I have rent to pay for.”

Although he agrees with social distancing, he isn’t satisfied with the fact that he had to remove himself from his environment. He thinks taking him out of his college lifestyle causes him and other college students to feel less inclined to do their work. Some of his college teachers have accents that are hard to understand, and students have gone from direct teaching to relying on a microphone and Internet connection.

“I don’t like online classes; that’s why I don’t take online classes,” said Noah. “Plus, I have some difficult teachers.”

This new distance created by this storm of the disease has made people have to adjust to a learning platform that most have initially attempted to avoid. But that’s not what concerns Noah the most.

“What I am more worried about is the older people,” said Noah. “…my parents and my grandparents.”

Worldometer is a constantly updating website of COVID-19. It displays the number of people infected with the disease and, more importantly, the lives it has claimed. The disease tends to claim the lives of older individuals. More information on the lives lost and where can be found on https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-age-sex-demographics/.

Not only has the learning environment changed, but the activities outside of education have slowed down also. There is little business due to this pandemic.

Nigel Williams’ roommate, Mattia Mecha, has found this obstacle difficult. He paid for a visa, moved to the United States from Italy, and became a wine vendor. Being able to sell to his customers is not only important to maintain his life in the US, but also to continue working. His job requires him to be behind the wheel for four to five hours every time he works. That typically adds up to driving over 5,000 miles a month.

“(In) my job the coronavirus has already started to do a lot of damage. I lost like 70% of my business. This means I can’t go around to sell wine. I don’t have enough sales to pay the gasoline. This is ridiculous, I have to work. The gasoline is the first thing you should pay with the sales. Now, it’s not like that,” said Mecha. “This was the first week I only work two days going around in my car.”

This storm of the disease has the potential to wreck his life on American soil. He needs to make money, but if he were to contract the disease, he would have to return home to Italy to receive free health care.

“We will do the same things we do in Italy now, everybody in the same home. Everybody trying to keep the situation right,” said Mecha. “Even the quarantine is not enough, but it’s something. We are doing the quarantine in Italy now because we filled up all the hospitals. We are really close and, for a small number of days, we were full.”

The world is doing what it can to give the silent chaos order, but the only answers put most at a disadvantage. As the novel coronavirus storm spreads without any sign of blowing over, social structures and businesses continue to force people to abandon their concept of normal living.