Stay Wary, not Weary: A Zillennial’s Take on the “Purple” State

By Alice Park, Program Specialist, Orange County Business Council
Graduated January 2020, Cal State Fullerton, BA Economics

All who are COVID-weary: come one, come all! As we approach the end of an unexpectedly life-altering 2020, the days are slowing down and the holiday buzz is stirring, but COVID-19 still holds its relentless grip. When 41 California counties, including Orange County, re-entered the purple tier on November 16 followed by a mandated curfew, a somber wave of disappointment and frustration swept over the state. Nothing about the virus has changed, yet even the safest and most careful of us are not as vigilant as we once used to be. We have become COVID-weary, against our best efforts, at a time where we cannot afford to.

As social creatures deprived of replenishing our social batteries, people have begun seeking out normalcy after months of quarantine. We have progressively grown numb to the news. “Covid” is engrained in our daily vocabulary. I now merely glaze over daily coronavirus cases and death counts that I once used to obsessively check. COVID-19 doesn’t provide the effective pang of a cold slap of reality anymore.

Slowly, malls and restaurants began to fill. Freeway traffic returned to near-normal levels. And as the holiday season approaches us, I began witnessing frequent large gatherings. As COVID-19 testing became more accessible, I’d often hear people say, “we all came back negative, so we’re safe.” However, according to the CDC, a negative result only means that the individual may not have been infected at the time of testing. A negative test can lead to a sense of false security, leading people to neglect social distancing and other safety measures.

Additionally, the timeframe for testing affects the accuracy of test results. A negative result does not mean one is not infected, but that the sample did not show viral levels high enough to be measured. A study found that the probability of a false-negative on day 1 after exposure to day 4 decreases from 100% to 67%. COVID-19 has a 14-day incubation period during which one can develop symptoms, if at all. Experts found that infected individuals typically do not test positive or show symptoms until at least five days after exposure. Yet, those infected are most contagious two to three days before they are likely to test positive or exhibit symptoms.

As a zillennial in her prime “20-something”, I empathize with the urge to return to normalcy. We zillennials are in a pivotal phase in which we shed our youth and emerge into adulthood. We are entering our careers, bright-eyed and eager, to be faced with an upended job market and economy. We are working (or looking for work) in order to support our families affected by the pandemic, while trying to start lives of our own. We adapt to online college classrooms while searching for an intrinsic motivation to study. We are bombarded with information on our phones as we try to unplug for mental health’s sake while attempting to staying informed. Then there’s the FOMO (fear-of-missing-out) of the romanticized glory days: making the most out of the last years of youth, pursuing our dreams and goals that are more vivid and ambitious than ever—the quest for adventure and love!  

But those days will come again. We are resilient. But we cannot revive the lives lost to COVID-19. We need to reattune ourselves to the severity of this virus as we did in the earlier months.

Let this zillennial remind you:  we can all get back to normal sooner and safer if we are diligent and mindful before and after taking COVID-19 tests—often if possible—we remember to #MaskUp, and distance.  Plus, study up on vaccines—they’re coming and we need to be ready. In the meantime, do not assume we are not infected nor incapable of spreading the virus to others. Let’s demonstrate we are not weary of doing the right thing.

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