Student - University of Virginia

Although people say “to expect the unexpected,” I don’t think anybody saw COVID-19 coming, nor the subsequent effects it would have on modern society: it’s nuts. Honestly, I didn’t give it much thought for the first few weeks when the infection started and assumed it would blow over in the next few days, but one night that changed. There is something so unnerving about seeing a grocery store empty; furthermore, there have definitely been times when I have passed on buying toilet paper due to the lack of a sale, but I have never been denied it based on the fact that they didn’t have it. Normally, toilet paper is so common that I question why it’s sold at my tiny local gas station for an overpriced amount. The moment when I left Walmart without toilet paper was not the first time I had questioned humanity, but it certainly was one of the more memorable times. From headlines that I had seen, the coronavirus was closer to a nasty case of bronchitis or the common flu; however, I had never seen it being passed off as a stomach bug or a vile case of food poisoning. The mysterious cases of the disappearance of toilet paper and Lysol wipes from stores were the beginning of a very long few weeks.

My family and I never really had much interest in conversing about current events, domestic or international, so COVID-19 was a first. It was a topic that interested my Chinese parents, as it was affecting their friends and colleagues back in China, but to me, as a first-gen biology major, disease schematics and epidemiology were a focal point in my education.

Part of my education — and my identity as a millennial — is sorting through mass amounts of information and figuring out if a source has good data to back up their statements or if what they’re stating is absolute hogwash.

My parents grew up in rural China and still use their folk remedies and herbal supplements. I think that the East in general likes to maintain these traditions even in modern times, unlike the West. Usually, they work and it’s healthier than stuffing pills down one’s throat and contributing to antibiotic resistance. However, my parents — like everybody else — like to read things on the internet and with such a large amount of misinformation on the coronavirus, you can get some interesting things. In the past two weeks, I have disproven many hypotheses using research. For example, sniffing onions, taking cold showers nightly, nor drinking herbal hot tea will prevent the virus. I’ve enjoyed being able to use my scientific knowledge and confirm that my parents’ tuition money is being spent effectively.