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FunTimes Magazine

The People Speak: Public Opinions of COVID-19

By Nana Ama Addo

COVID-19 has invaded our TV screens, our media, and our lives in a most tremendous manner. We’ve heard from the experts, the leaders and big wigs. Now, let’s hear what the citizens think. FunTimes is hitting the streets (metaphorically) to learn what the people have to say about this grim epidemic, and ideas about possible ways forward.

Khalia Robinson is a spiritual and entrepreneurship resource coach based in Philadelphia. She is the founder and resource consultant for Raise the Bar Philly, LLC.

How has COVID-19 affected your work life?

I work from home and live with several family members, now that everyone is home it's very hard to get any work done. It forced me to prioritize and make better use of my time, so it's ultimately strengthening me.

Do you feel the US government has taken appropriate measures to contain the virus?

No, NO and Hell naw!!! That's the problem. Many of our leaders are self-serving and have self-proclaimed invincibility. They don't think of forward-thinking measures for their constituents. They think forward to the next election. Most of the people who really have the citizens' interest at heart are set up to take the downfall for all the b.s. that the evil ones are doing. The government is doing more internal arguing than they are problem-solving.

Do you think the way the world runs will change after the pandemic ends?

Yes. I'll try not to get too rabbit hole political… I'll leave it at this: sometimes you have to tear down the foundation and rebuild completely to create the best structure for your people to live in.

What advice would you give to the general public regarding the pandemic?

Be still in the eye of the storm. That's the best way to avoid getting caught up.

Nana Asare Asamani IakaNova M. Felder, is the chief, or Nkusuahenne ofAkwamufie, Eastern Region, Ghana. He is a social entrepreneur and activist from Harlem-Queens, New York.

How has COVID-19 affected your work life?

The pandemic has made me change my investment strategy at home and here in Ghana. We did not know what the outcomes would be, so we pivoted our finances to open and build our wholistic shop in Chorkor, Accra (Afrika Is The Future/ Harlem 125) and Agricultural projects (Obesey-Felder Farms) in the Eastern Region.

Back home my business is at a standstill because of all the shut downs.

What has been the emotional impact of COVID-19 for you and how have you remedied this impact?

Being from NYC, I know a lot of people that have lost family. In my circle we lost my best friend’s father and one of our young sisters with 2 children that we came up with. So yes, it’s been tough.

Do you think quarantining is a positive practice to prevent the spread?

I’m not an epidemiologist, virologist or an MD, so that is a tough call on my end. I will say that I think quarantining within the limits of your society is a good idea. In the US, with an older population and a high number of persons suffering from various diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, diabetes and kidney failure, it’s a good idea. Also the U.S. is in the temperate climate zone, so this type of virus spreads quickly and easily in the colder months.

But then you never know, Denmark went the opposite of quarantining, with herd immunity, and their numbers of infection are on par with countries that implemented social distancing and quarantining policies.

Do you feel the US government has taken appropriate measures to contain the virus?

“Too little too late” is the saying I believe. I think a lot more from an educational perspective could have been done to teach the public about the potential of the US being infected at a pandemic level.

The president was saying that it was a hoax back in December when he had been briefed by various intelligence agencies that this was a serious matter. This is a matter of record and can be substantiated.

The slow or inaction of the federal government has cost the US a lot. The economic impact has been dire and the loss of life has been devastating, especially in the African American and lower income communities. The biggest loss may be on the global political stage.

The US, at least since the end of WWII, has been seen as a world leader on almost every front and as an innovator. After this inadequate response within its own borders, I do not know if the US’s image can recover. With the current president’s policies, social media rants and attacks on the US media from his office, the image had already been tarnished. I’m terms of image, this may be the final blow to the US.

Jacqueline Williamsis an educator, novelist and publisher based in Philadelphia. Because of COVID-19, she works completely from home.

What has been the emotional impact of COVID-19 for you and how have you remedied this impact?

Since I live alone. I have to be aware of not being too lonely. When I feel lonely, I call a friend or relative.

Do you feel the US government has taken appropriate measures to contain the virus?

They started late but there are measures in place. It is sad that the current president does not have leadership skills to work with all the governors. The government should have stepped up earlier to prevent the spread.

Do you think the way the world runs will change after the pandemic ends?

Of course. Since the pandemic, it is obvious that we have to think about the next one and continue to develop protocols to stop the spread of this particular virus. Also, many businesses are going to close and not reopen, which means that people will be out of work, and there will be more problems because of that.

What advice would you give to the general public regarding the pandemic?

I would tell the general public to pay attention to the doctors in the public health officials, not to the politicians who have their own agenda. I would also say take this seriously because many people have died and many people have recovered, but still have side effects from the disease.

This is very serious and we have to be aware. We need to understand that climate change is real and that we need to really start taking an active part in making sure the resources are not depleted.

Yorkenia Gomezis a full time college student in Philadelphia. She is on the brink of graduating with a bachelor degree in Business.

How has COVID-19 affected your work life?

Thankfully, I still have a job. We made the transition and we are working from home. We are even forced to work over time. I work over 40 hours a week. But, a lot of peers have been laid off so there are less of us now. Who knows when it will be my turn.

What has been the emotional impact of COVID-19 for you and how have you remedied this impact?

Sometimes I feel frustrated, sad and other emotions combined. My graduation ceremony, as well as other events and paths I wanted to take have been changed. But, I am grateful and I am healthy. I have been meditating a lot lately, which has helped me through this process and I also keep in touch with family and friends.

Do you feel the US government has taken appropriate measures to contain the virus?

The government is doing a great job of making sure everyone stays home and that everyone is following the guidelines when they go outside. But for people that have lost their jobs, and have kids to feed or debts already, it is difficult. The government should extend the payment dates on mortgages and other bills.

Do you think the way the world runs will change after the pandemic ends?

People will be scared, people will be taking more precautions, the economy won’t be the same and there have been a lot of changes that people will continue to adapt to, like mostly online transactions.

What advice would you give to the general public regarding the pandemic?

I would advise the public to stay home to stop the spread of the virus, to stay positive and use this time to reflect and do the things that you love to do.

Demetrius Robinsonis an educator who teaches social studies/history to adjudicated high school aged youth and is based in Camden, New Jersey.

I arrived in Ghana one day prior to the Ghanaian government issuing a travel ban for incoming Non-Ghanaian citizens whose country had 200 or more COVID-19 cases. I have also remained in Ghana, since the Ghanaian government closed its borders to international travel, which occurred five (5) days prior to my scheduled return to the United States.

Fortunately, my inability to return to the United States was ruled a COVID-19 related absence for work. With access to Wi-Fi and a great VPN, I am currently able to do telework. In the meantime, I have obtained a Non-citizen Identity card, a tax identification number and registered with a local employment service just in case I have to stay in Ghana later than expected and/or my employer withdraws its decision.

What has been the emotional impact of COVID-19 for you and how have you remedied this impact?

Initially, the only emotional impact of COVID-19 I have experienced while in Ghana was the concern for my family and friends back in the U.S., and whether I would continue to receive an income while the travel restriction remained in place in Ghana and the U.S. Video conferencing/talking with family and friends, particularly weekly video conferences with my three children, Safa (13), Jibril (15) and Shaquille (26), have increased my anxiety due to the impact of COVID-19.

Actually, being in Ghana for this extended period has enabled me to recalibrate my thoughts on how to move forward with my goals and what shifts I need to make when preparing to return to an unfamiliar landscape back in the United States.

Do you feel the US government has taken appropriate measures to contain the virus?

From news reports that I have read and viewed regarding the U.S. Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not been driven by science and common sense. It has been profiteering and partisan politics that has led the government’s response to COVID-19.

However, I know the Ghanaian Government’s response to COVID-19 through firsthand experience. During his address to the Ghanaian people, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, mentioned that the “Government’s policy…will be largely driven by science [and] guided by the data, with [a] focus on the 3-Ts, i.e. tracing, testing and treatment.”

I was traced through immigration on my arrival at the Kotoka International Airport, tested by the Ghana Ministry of Health and thankfully, I did not have to be treated due to a negative test result. In addition to the government taking appropriate measures, the Ghanaian people should be given recognition for instituting and using washing stations, sanitizing, wearing masks, and practicing social distancing.

Do you think the way the world runs will change after the pandemic ends?

Those whose wealth is so great that instead of it being used to measure their value, is measured by the degree in which it can be used to control others, will benefit from this economic and social shift by forcing the masses who have not jumped on the “broadband wagon” to gain comfort through using the internet.

This may seem like a harmless and timely shift, but corporations who hold monopolies within the financial and tech worlds will benefit from social fears and distancing that will grossly effect “brick and mortar” businesses and institutions such as schools, retail stores, etc., that are crucial to our social, economic and democratic well-being.

Imani Pughis a college student and dancer from Washington, DC. She chronicles her journeys on her blog, ‘Back to Saturn’.

How has COVID-19 affected your work life?

I lost my on-campus job due to campus closing and all of my classes have moved online. This transition was stressful and made it harder to get my schoolwork done in a different environment.

What has been the emotional impact of COVID-19 for you and how have you remedied this impact?

It has made me extremely concerned about everyone’s health, especially people in my life with compromised immune systems (including myself). My grandfather was in the hospital with COVID-19 and thankfully, he has recovered. But it was really sad to watch him go through that. Being home has also made it harder to focus on school work. I’ve been increasingly anxious about it and I feel less obligated to do the work when there are so many more important things happening in the world than writing a paper.

Do you feel the US government has taken appropriate measures to contain the virus?

No. I think more should have been done earlier. Donald Trump really fumbled this situation and put so many lives in danger by not acting on this when he first learned about the spread of the virus in January.

Do you think the way the world runs will change after the pandemic ends?

Yes. I think we will all be more mindful about sanitary practices. I don’t think people will shake hands as much. We won’t have large events for at least another year. There will probably be a lot of controversy about the vaccine that scientists make. Overall, I think people will be more cautious about everything, whether it’s valid or not.

What advice would you give to the general public regarding the pandemic?

Stay home. Reach out to your loved ones. Watch a good movie. Journal.

Christian Haydenis a poet and community educator based in Philadelphia. His writing captures the intricate connections that hold us together as human beings.

How has COVID-19 affected your work life?

I now work from home spending time crafting workshops for students to do via the internet. The conversations have been surprisingly fluid and been able to reach groups of young people I might not have because of the pandemic. I also bring in topics, around internet dating safety that were pertinent before, but even more so now.

What has been the emotional impact of COVID-19 for you and how have you remedied this impact, if any?

It has been a lot of mourning, mourning of plans, mourning of relationships, mourning of the ability to freely move. But with that has come introspection and some creativity. I have had to connect in ways I never had to before. I also have more time to dedicate to language learning and other skill building.

Do you think quarantining is a positive practice to prevent the spread?

Yes, but it seems not enough. People have a hard time changing habits, and since green spaces are scarce, people go to the same places to get out, undermining the effort. Also some stores don’t encourage distancing, making shopping unsafe. But everyone wearing masks was a good addendum.

Do you feel the US government has taken appropriate measures to contain the virus?

Not as a country, we need more testing. The disease is strange so many carriers are asymptomatic so more widespread testing is needed. Also because people live with family members, that is a major place of transmissions. This really shows the housing crunch as some people who are positive can’t quarantine away from their household.

Do you think the way the world runs will change after the pandemic ends?

Yes, some places will deal with this differently and for longer periods. Traveling to places that don’t have great healthcare infrastructure will be a challenge and those places will also be the last places to receive a vaccine.

What advice would you give to the general public regarding the pandemic?

Be patient, be kind, be attuned. We are learning a lot about ourselves as a society. We don’t want to go back to normal, but we have to create and imagine a new one, hopefully a more just one.

Very insightful testimonies indeed. Thanks to our interviewees and thank you for reading! Do you want to share your story with us? Send us an email at [email protected]