A road in Bronx, NY with a fire truck

Dawn of a Pandemic

Before the winter of 2019 began, no one would have suspected spring 2020 would steer the direction of humanity down a road unfamiliar to modern civilization. January 1, 2020, marked the conclusion of a decade that was defined by technological advancement, the transformation of socio-economic institutions, and the continuous dialogue of a political debate to determine if we are better off united or divided. From the acceptance of Syrian refugees into Europe to the monthly terror attack and school shootings, a world that was moving toward equal acceptance of all demographic groups in the years prior seemed to be moving back toward individual groups reconstructing their communities to defend their own kind. From tragic encounters where the shooting of suspects preceded the questioning of innocent civilians leading to the formation of Black Lives Matter, to the rise or resurfacing of separatist groups in Catalonia, Spain, the UK, and Brexit, the world was on a trajectory focused on dividing even before the construction of the wall to US immigration began.

An empty Cross Bronx Expressway
Cross Bronx Expressway, usually bumper to bumper at noon, is deserted. Photo Credit: Nicholas Ayuso

Not too long after repetitive hurricanes bombarded the Caribbean, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts of the Americas and other turmoil that occurred in the 2010s that left everyone concerned with different causes and initiatives, 2020 presented all 7 billion of us with an obstacle that can only be possible if we rise up and unite together by, ironically enough, staying as far apart as possible. All people are equally vulnerable and equally responsible for fighting an enemy that is attacking all fronts due to one simple concept—that viruses don’t discriminate!

March 2020 saw exponential pandemic growth of historical proportions. Preparations were limited as leaders, corporations, media, and health authorities everywhere could not predict the significance of the impact it would have early on. If anything, we need to take away the important lesson that we keep forgetting—expect the unexpected.

It started out as animal-to-human transmission of a novel coronavirus in fall 2019, so it was a shock when it started spreading by human contact and respiratory droplets. It started entering nations through international travelers returning home. Now a majority of it is community spread, regardless of travel history or direct contact with those who have. At first, it was only killing the elderly, immunocompromised, and those with underlying health conditions. Now there have even been reports of deaths in the otherwise healthy, including healthcare workers, which make up a majority of the cases to originate in certain hospitals.

Closed playground due to coronavirus
Photo Credit: Nicholas Ayuso; Bronx, NY

Serious implications are among us. Incidence, mortality, the depletion of necessary personal protective equipment, and needs exceeding ICU capacity are growing fast. As frontline workers continue making sacrifices and risking the health of themselves and their families, the general population is self-isolating in anticipation of progress while fearing demise.

When North America sent tons of medical equipment to China as the novel virus was first encountered, it was against the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations, who stated that the worst is yet to come, we are next, we will need that equipment. When the pandemic became very real for Americans and Canadians alike, the governments were criticized for their mismanagement of vital supplies. Since China started returning the aid and sending PPE back to Canada and the US as North America starts to crash and burn, it really drives home the notion that we are all in this together.

 


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Robert Scarfo

AUC Frontline Editor

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