Curtis Gaines III, Features Editor
On March 15, Bergen Community College announced that the rest of the spring semester will be taking place online instead of in the classrooms due to rising concerns over the Coronavirus. The virus, COVID-19, which was first discovered in Wuhan, China, made its way to the Garden State roughly a week prior and has expanded to 49 out of 50 states. To prepare for the spread of the virus, civilians have been stocking up on groceries and toiletries to prepare for the worst possible outcomes. Also, public places like churches, stores and even professional sports have been canceled or postponed for the next several months to combat the spread of Coronavirus.
Around Bergen County, many schools have also been canceled and some towns have even been implementing curfews and quarantines for the unforeseen future. For college students studying abroad, their trips were cut short while senior students in the final stretch of their college career had half of their semester cut short because of the virus. Although there have been several outbreaks of diseases over the past few years, like Ebola and swine flu, none have reached a level that has been seen before with Coronavirus.
We asked several students and faculty members around BCC about the threat of coronavirus and ways that they could help with preventing the spread of the disease. These interviews were conducted on February 9, before the virus became a pandemic and had only 14 cases reported in the United States. Now, with over 3,000 cases and counting in the US, these interviews are a reflection on how much information and opinions around the disease has changed over the past month.
Student, Nicole Angulo: “I am [concerned] since it’s fatal if not treated instantly. I wash my hands every time I come in and out of the house. If I see sanitizer, I’ll use it too. I [cough] and [sneeze] in my arm just to be safe.”
Student, Nasir Neville: “I recently got a catering job. I wash my hands before I touch or cut food. Always wash your hands before and after you eat, after you use the bathroom. If you’re sick, you have to take care of that ASAP. It spreads fast, just like the flu. I want everybody here to be safe and sick-free.”
Student, Tae Kim: “I’m not concerned about the spread of it here [in the U.S.] It’s pretty far away and most likely it will be well contained in the U.S. Some boys/men usually don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. Think of the bathroom as a refresh point to wash out the bacteria in your hands.”
Dania Huie-Pasgan, Health Services: “Not really a big concern here in New Jersey. There’s nobody here that has been diagnosed with the virus. I’m just taking precautions by getting information from the county, state and Department of Health. Stay home when you’re not feeling well to prevent the spread of viruses. There’s a lot of myths out there. Bottom line is that its a virus. By following precautions of other viruses and being vigilant, we should be fine. Every few years, something big comes up (viruses) and we’ve been lucky so far. We have no students studying abroad in China. Rooms are clean and maintained in the school.”
Student, Jiyoun Lee: “I try to keep domestic tranquility. What else can I do about it? Whenever you see any symptoms of being sick, hot tea is always helpful. It’s good for [the] metabolism. Sometimes the media projects things for its own international importance, instead of delivering real facts, so always keep your eyes and ears open for the truth. Calmness is the best solution at this moment.”
Just like the flu, symptoms of coronavirus includes coughing, sneezing, fever, sore throat and difficulty breathing. Ways of preventing the spread of the virus includes cleaning hands frequently, covering nose and mouth using one’s elbow and avoiding close contact with people who have cold or flu-like symptoms. With the virus, older adults and people with chronic health problems are more at risk of death. Although there is no cure at the moment, containment of the virus is the best solution.
With classes now being enforced online, it creates an unusual set of circumstances that students have to endure for the rest of the semester. Besides not seeing classmates on a weekly basis, a lot of free time has also been granted for students to take advantage of. With that in mind, now is the perfect time for students at BCC to stay productive by picking up a new skill, new hobby or take bigger steps towards their future careers. Although the outcome is unpredictable in regards to Coronavirus, taking the necessary steps of maintaining health as well as preparing for a future after Bergen is the best thing to do during these times.