By Caleb Probst
When did COVID-19 become a serious concern for you?
For medical and health professionals, it was a concern long before we started self-quarantining. For those who believed the coronavirus was no worse than the common flu, they may not have realized how deadly the virus was until over 400,000 people globally died.
For me, it became a concern on March 11.
It was a Wednesday night, just days before I would pack my bags and drive home to Montgomery to spend spring break with my family and celebrate my birthday. In fact, my brothers and I were excited to drive to Atlanta to watch an NBA game together during spring break.
Little did I know our plans were about to change drastically.
March 11, I was at my house in Birmingham, live streaming a video game. My viewers were talking to me in the live chat while I was playing the game, and as far as I knew, it was a completely normal Wednesday night. Then, one of my viewers shared some devastating news with everyone watching the stream: the NBA season had just been suspended.
Rudy Gobert, a player for the Utah Jazz, was displaying symptoms of COVID-19 on the basketball court during a game, and this led to the entire arena going into a frenzy. Players from both teams hustled to distance themselves from Gobert. Fans began to exit the arena as quickly as possible, and before we had time to process anything that was happening, the NBA season was put on hold.
In fact, everything was put on hold. Not just the NBA, not just other sports, but our lives.
In the weeks following the suspension of the NBA season, we went into a period of self-quarantine, where most people were scared to even leave their homes.
Many people who had jobs were either working from home or not being paid at all.
Students of all ages were forced to finish their school years from home.
Colleges and high schools canceled their graduation ceremonies, and the worst part about everything happening throughout the country was that we couldn’t do anything to stop the spread.
And oddly, we were instructed to do nothing about it.
Staying home, washing our hands, and sanitizing things were supposed to save us from this pandemic, but instead, it seems as if things have only gotten worse three months after the world was put on hold?
For a while, it seemed as if the number of COVID-19 cases throughout the country was finally decreasing with every passing day.
Then, businesses decided to reopen. And state governments sanctioned it all.
I don’t leave my house very often. I’ll either go to the market to buy groceries, get some takeout or go to a gym in my neighborhood.
However, whenever I do drive around, I feel like I see way too many people outside, a bunch of them in groups eating together and socializing.
I wouldn’t have a problem with this on a normal day, but we haven’t had a normal day in months.
Why are people ignoring the fact that the virus is still lingering among us? I simply don’t understand it.
If I’m going to a drive-thru, I don’t think I should be seeing every table outside the establishment full of four to seven people.
If I’m driving through a neighborhood, I don’t think I should be seeing large groups of people biking together and walking together.
I don’t think I should drive by the neighborhood pool and see almost 100 people gathered in one space, and I don’t think I should open my phone to see a video of over 300 people gathered in a gym watching a basketball game, with not one person wearing a mask.
Cases are increasing in many states, and while I understand the importance of many businesses and restaurants that are reopening, I don’t think they’re handling this pandemic with as much caution as they should be.
In small ways, I try to be happy.
Yes, I’m happy the NBA is returning.
I’m happy some of my favorite restaurants are reopening too, but I feel like these things need to be handled more carefully.
Our country is in a tough spot right now, with riots and protests happening day after day. I support these protests and the Black Lives Matter movement, but I still haven’t forgotten about COVID-19 quietly sitting in the background, preparing to strike again harder in the fall.