Three months after that initial protective measure against COVID-19, few signs of life remain in my graduate dorm. In the lobby, the detritus of life stacks up with each successive student departure: desk lamps, branded thermoses, dried beans, legal textbooks. Meanwhile, the laundry room has become a domestic warzone, as Sunday chores have become life-threatening. Can the virus survive on the doorknob? In the washer? The dryer? The underwear that someone hasn’t retrieved all day? And was that a sneeze, a snicker, a cough down the hallway?
In pandemic situations — infectious, political or otherwise — it is natural for individuals fearing for their safety to distance themselves from the “ill.” However, it is not an accident that non-pharmaceutical interventions are also referred to as community interventions. Social distancing and other community interventions do not call for individualism so much as collective action, cooperation and support in adhering to these extraordinary conditions during an unprecedented time.