The Coronavirus and Me By Helen Luu

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

Helen Luu and I are in a creative writing class. Since she is Chinese-American, I thought her “take” on the virus might be interesting. Her bio is at the end of her essay.es    

 

Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rat, fell on January 25, 2020. To prepare for the New Year celebration, overseas Chinese people in the United States had to book their flights months in advance to go home to be with their families.  Thus, they were able to have a New Year’s Eve dinner with their families, which was as important to non-Chinese Americans as Thanksgiving dinner.

Everyone in the household was busy performing his or her duty to prepare for the New Year festivities. The seniors were preparing the red bags (lucky bag with cash) for children; the housewives were preparing foods to reflect and welcome the Year of the Rat; husbands were doing house cleaning and might replace something old or do some painting as necessary; and children were stocking firecrackers. Everyone was expecting the coming celebration with joy.

Suddenly the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Wu Han, China, came to replace happiness with  sadness in mid-December 2019.  People were worried because there were no medicines or vaccine to prevent it. Moreover, many people were losing their loved ones.

Shortly after the outbreak, the medical authority announced the virus is transferrable from human-to-human and had become a pandemic . The Chinese government closed down all New Year celebrations and shut down the whole country. People were requested to wear masks when they went out food shopping. Then, a few days later, everyone was asked to self-quarantine at home. No one was allowed to go out. Overnight the city became a ghost town and it felt like the end of the world.

The WHO (World Health Organization) declared the virus as Covid-19. It is a new and incurable virus at the present time. The USA government started to evacuated the embassy — staff and their family members. At the same time we saw the number of deaths continue to climb.  Fortunately, the virus was under control by mid-March. Now people started to come out slowly, still wearing masks as a precaution.

While Covid-19 is now under control in China, in the USA (particularly New York City), in Italy, Spain, France,  and England, within one month, it has created turmoil. Sadly, none of these countries has learned the lessons from China.

In early March Trump still said we were well prepared and all would be fine. Trump was unable to foresee the risk of Covid-19. He was unprepared for the disaster. Not only that, he even called it is a Chinese virus. He put Asians at risk, since he repeatedly called it the Chinese virus; he brought up racism and hate in the world community. Many Asians were brutally beaten for no reason. I am very angry and disappointed by Trump’s leadership. Trump did not stop calling this virus the Chinese virus until Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO, made a comment.

How well are we now? We do not have enough medical workers, medical supplies, hospital beds and many doctors, nurses, policemen, veterans became infected while they were helping others. I was upset to see on TV people unload the bodies into plastic bags to refrigerated trucks.

However, the Covid-19 has shown some powerful moral principles and cohesion in the community. With the short supply of medical providers, many retired doctors, nurses, EMTs, etc. from the whole country responded to the calls for help. State Boards reinstated their licenses in no time to enable them to practice; JetBlue provided free transportation for them; some people donated home-made masks from fabric or 3D computers.

Scarcity of masks is a major problem. The Asian communities have tried their best to show their devotion. For example, the Asian community in Chinatown in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had raised money to buy 27,000 masks and donate them to several local hospitals. And the Asian community continues to raise money for masks for hospitals.

How has the Covid-19 changed my behavior?

In the end of February, seeing the virus spike in every country, I canceled my trip to Mexico, planned from March 12-20. I am practicing self-quarantine; I stopped going to social gatherings; I have learned to wash my hands thoroughly with soap; I stopped wiping my eyes with my hand,  which I always did and had previously caused infection;  I sneeze on my elbow when I am unable to get a tissue; I drink enough water to keep my body hydrated; I try to get enough sleep; and I exercise every day at least for 30 minutes.  Of course, I cook some meals with my canned food which I have never used before, when I run out of fresh food.

On March 30th, 2020, we were asked to stay home until April 30. Being at home 24 hours every day for one whole month, we do need to do something to ease ourselves mentally and physically. In the morning I practice my piano lessons; I read my books and walk my treadmill in the afternoon; at night I watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. Once in a while I call and check on my children and siblings. Meanwhile, my husband enjoys his Vietnamese Opera on YouTube. He also spends time on the treadmill in the morning.

However, I hope a new Covid-19 test kit and a new medicine remedy go into effect soon and normalcy will return in a short time.

Hopefully peace and health to us and the whole world is coming soon. God Bless America and the whole world !!!!!

Bio: Helen Luu came to the USA in 1976. She was born in Vietnam but is actually Chinese. After several jobs in the USA, she earned a B.S. and LMSW (Master’s Degree) in social work and started an Asian mental health program at Hall Mercer Community Health Center, part of Penn Medicine, where she worked for 30 years. (She speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and English, using her Asian languages in her job.) She was a mental health clinician, wearing several different hats., with the title of case manager. Helen retired in 2018. She is married and has two grown sons.

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