Quarantine Pros and Cons
April 13, 2020
Mayor Lyda Krewson and County Executive Sam Page’s stay at home order for St. Louis City and County went into effect Monday, March 23. This county order is set to last until April 22, requiring people to stay at home except for necessary outings which include outdoor activity and shopping for necessary items, such as food and toilet paper. While practicing social distancing, TKC staffers explore the pros and cons of being quarantined.
In defense of leaving
I think I am going crazy. I have been stuck in my small house with only my dad and zero social interactions (unless you count the awkward glance from the Walmart cashier who thinks I may carry a disease I have no symptoms of). Yes, the coronavirus is serious and those who are feeling sick should isolate themselves, but what about the complete extroverts like me who thrive on being in public settings? I have watched every Netflix show there is and my legs are beginning to feel like Jello. And you’re telling me I can’t go on a walk with my friends unless we are six feet apart?
My mental sanity is spiraling down the drain because I can’t surround myself with the people who help me feel positive. Being stuck at home has caused me to lose touch with those I’m closest to. I’ve mastered every level of trivia on Houseparty, and can’t think of new things to say to my friends over FaceTime. I even miss school: something I never thought I’d say. I haven’t even seen my grandma in two weeks – and I usually see her daily. I just want some of her feel-good chocolate chip cookies, is that too much to ask?
Kassandra Alcaraz, a public health researcher with the American Cancer Society, analyzed data from over 580,000 adults and found that social isolation in general increases the risk of premature death. Yet, the media primarily covers the deaths of people infected by a virus similar to the flu. Few media outlets are discussing the risks of self-isolation on mental health because there is still a stigma around mental health today. We are going to experience an increase in mental and physical health problems if we are forced to stay quarantined for such a long, indefinite time. Hanging out with my friends who are symptom-free will not kill me, but staying isolated in my home just might.
In defense of quarantine
Going on a run through Kirkwood, I see boys playing lacrosse on the closed KHS football field, girls hammocking in the park, and as soon as I get home, I see people posting on social media together and other runners who filmed a time trial together. These were all posted after the stay at home order was put in place. Needless to say, they were not following the CDC’s recommendation to maintain six feet apart, and certainly not following the stay at home order from Mayor Krewson to social distance and workout alone. My mom works as a hospice nurse and I have seen the effects of this pandemic firsthand. At work, health care workers are having to reuse masks due to the shortage in supply, and my mom had to find her own N95 masks, which are needed to protect healthcare workers from the airborne particles that would carry an infected person’s respiratory droplets. It is shocking to see how many people are failing to see the severity of this situation and are continuing to increase the chances of community spread.
Hear me out. Social isolation does have effects on people’s mental health, but there are resources for people who are struggling while following the guidelines put into place by professionals. As the coronavirus limits counselors’ ability to schedule in-person sessions, many are switching to online video chats to continue to talk to patients. There are also helplines if you or someone you know is needing to talk to a professional as well as meditation apps such as “Stop, Think, Breathe.” As far as sports are concerned, true athletes are made through resilience. This situation is no different. The Missouri High School Athletic Association asked for athletes to slow down the virus by not gathering with other athletes to continue practicing, a request that those hoping to salvage their spring seasons should follow. Extroverts may feel social isolation is causing them to deteriorate as they try to cure boredom with endless TikToks and Netflix movies, but sometimes a simple Zoom chat can help to stay connected with friends in isolation.
When it comes down to it, hanging out with friends isn’t worth prolonging a rapidly growing issue. Choosing to distance ourselves could help slow the spread of the virus, which according to Johns Hopkins University, would help “flatten the curve” of the exponential growth infected people and reduce the risks of overwhelmed hospitals. For now, the most important thing is to stop the spread. Friends can meet in person after this all dies down, but the longer people disregard the guidelines of the CDC and St. Louis County, the longer this virus will last and the worse the situation will be for everyone.