As our Foxfire fellows gear up for a unique summer of socially distanced oral histories, we’ve encouraged them to investigate how the coronavirus is impacting Appalachia. In this second publication, Fellow Mario Trujillo shares his own personal experiences during quarantine.
The coronavirus has changed many people’s lives, and is something that we can all relate to. It has affected people worldwide and has caused many deaths. Everyone can agree that the coronavirus is something that we all dislike. I am one such person, and he describes some of the different thoughts, reactions, and precautions that I’ve had to take. I share my thoughts on the future consequences and on my hopes for the future. I talk about my community at Rabun Gap and how they responded to the virus as well as how I prepared and dealt with the virus. Closer to the end I mention how I think people may become more independent and self-sufficient. Overall, I feel I have made the best of the virus, and have high hopes for the future.
I live in Mountain City near Rabun Gap, and school was the only community I really interacted with. The school I go to is very diverse. It [coronavirus] disrupted a lot of the international students’ plans, and schedules. A lot of them weren’t able to go home, or their trips had to be delayed.
I first learned about [COVID-19] at school. I don’t remember when; it was about a couple days before it got mass attention. One of the Chinese students was talking about how their parents were telling him about it, and that they were starting to get a little bit concerned. When he was telling me about it, at first I thought, “Oh it’s gonna be some disease in some distant place where I don’t have to worry about it,” or “Oh they’ll have it under control soon,” something like that. As we all know, it turned into something much bigger and now we’re quarantined over it. When [the virus] made its way to the states, I still didn’t take it seriously. I was like “Oh you don’t need to worry about it, it’s not going to come to Rabun County. Rabun County is so small it’s not going to make it down here.” And then it did, and the first couple cases started coming out and I was like, “This is serious.” Then I started to look into it more and then I became super paranoid, probably a bit more paranoid than I should have been. I was trying to make sure that my family knew about some of the health precautions to take besides just the mask. I told them about gloves, I told them about washing their hands all the time, I tried to make sure we kept all the masks and gloves sterile and that we didn’t use them too much. I told them to keep your face as covered as possible, try to stay away from people as much as you can, don’t touch a lot of surfaces.
We still don’t go out too much. We really just go out for groceries and a couple other things. We had to stay at home a lot more, so I stayed with my family a lot more. Even before, I didn’t like to go out very much, so I stayed at home anyways. But now my family is staying home so I interact with them much more now. We get to talk more cause my mom’s not out and about she is staying home. My opinion changed a lot as the virus went on, like I said when I first heard about it I didn’t think much of it, I didn’t think it would affect me. I thought it would be contained quickly, it would be far away, and it wouldn’t come to the States, but it did and everyone started to get scared of it and. At first it wasn’t even in my mind that it would be a problem, and now I have to take precautions so that it doesn’t affect me health-wise, and that I don’t catch it. I’ve had to change my life around, something that I thought to not be very important has turned into a key component in my life right now, and everyone’s lives. Everyone has to make plans around it.
Rabun Gap had a lot of trips planned for spring break and they all had to be cancelled. A lot of students weren’t able to go home immediately, because of travel concerns and how difficult it was; they had to stay at the school. I think some of them still are staying at the school, and still can’t return home yet. A lot of their parents decided that they should stay in the States, especially with this being such a small town, it might be a little bit more safe here than some of the more populated places like Shanghai, Beijing, New York, San Francisco, and Rio de Janeiro. In Clayton, a lot of people stopped going out at the height of quarantine. I remember we went out to go to the grocery store, and downtown Clayton was dead, and it was really surprising because in Clayton it’s always busy at noon and there was barely any businesses open at the time, and they were only allowing a few people in at a time, and there was just no one there, and it was just really surprising to see. It looked like something out of an apocalyptic movie, but that’s how everyone responded to it. A lot of people closed their businesses, and a lot of people cancelled trips, and a lot of people just didn’t go out. Some people hoarded stuff like the infamous toilet paper. That was hard to find, meat was hard to find, or it was expensive, canned goods were semi-hard to find. People were trying to stock up on everything that they could stock up on.
It’s hard to say because a lot has changed already and it feels like it’s already starting to revert back even though the virus isn’t completely over. Now we’re starting to see more cases coming back now, cause a lot of people are starting to go out again, and it’s concerning because it’s not over yet, but there’s so many other things on peoples minds especially in the U.S. that a lot of people are just forgetting about it. I think there’s gonna be a resurgence in cases and we’re gonna have to go back into intense quarantine; that’s just my prediction. In the future, I think people are gonna be a bit more wary, and focus more on hygiene and washing hands, and taking showers somewhat often. Hopefully most people already do that, but not everyone does. I think people are gonna be more wary of those kinds of diseases. The economy might have some trouble with a lot of stores being closed. I know that some stores were rushing to reopen. I think some people might try to become more self-sufficient, and try to live “off the grid.” A self-sufficient lifestyle is good, because it goes to show when you can’t find what you need you have to go without it or make it yourself, so a lot of people relied heavily on stores and supermarkets and stuff to get their supplies, so when those didn’t have what people needed, people had to do without it. Farmers are having to close down because someone gets sick, and they have to keep others safe, so things don’t get to the shelves. I’m a big fan of [a self-sufficient lifestyle], I think that would be for the better, to become more self-sufficient and not having to rely on others. Hopefully whatever happens is for the better.
Overall, I have tried to adapt to the coronavirus as best as I can, and have tried to make the best of the worst. I hope that everyone else is doing well and that the future will be much brighter. I predict that people will no longer rely on only supermarkets to get their food, and as a result will become a little more self-sufficient. Whether or not my hopes and predictions come true is unknown, we will have to wait and see in the months to come.