By Cordell Conrad

When a historic event directly impacts any facet of your life, abrupt changes almost always follow —and the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly no different. Since the novel coronavirus started ravaging the United States, just about every part of my life from shopping to academic work to personal relationships has changed.  

In a way, the damages this virus has inflicted upon us all has led to a perverse sense of relief academically for me. I would gladly trade this relief back in for my usual stress to counterbalance the effects of COVID-19. But it is a huge relief not to have to commute to Pittsburgh in the mornings from over 20 miles away, and I don’t have to try and juggle being at school, commuting to school, coming home and doing homework at home anymore. Now I can just stay home and I have exponentially more time to complete assignments with my quarantine time.

My personal life has also deviated from its normal course in quarantine. Before this pandemic, I spent a lot of time with friends but barely got to see my girlfriend. Now it’s the exact reverse. Just before this pandemic started my girlfriend, now fiancé, and I got an apartment together, and we have spent all of our time in quarantine together and have seen none of our friends. She and I have really come to learn how much we enjoy each other’s company being quarantined in close quarters with one another for such a long time period. 

I have learned to cope with all of these life adjustments by trying to virtualize as much of my in-person life as I possibly can. I have been able to keep up many of my social engagements via video chat and have spent a lot of time talking to family and friends on the phone.

I’ve also been able to cope personally due to the fact that I live with my fiancé, someone whom I enjoy spending as much time with as possible. And I have been able to cope academically due to the easy nature of the online curriculum we’ve adopted at Point Park using Schoology and the Big Blue Button, which I think is a lot easier than even showing up to physical classes.

My message to anyone in future generations who might read this piece years from now is that almost nothing is more important than taking expert advice seriously. The lack of reverence for experts and expertise did not begin this pandemic, but it has exacerbated it in America to dystopian proportions. The United States elected a president who follows his gut instincts for everything who ignored the scientific and medical community for months. We elected a president who even downgraded the seriousness of this pandemic and who even wants to restrict social distancing requirements at the height of this pandemic. He was elected on a wave of anti-intellectual sentiment that disdains experts as privileged elites who can never be trusted, and that has spun any expertise that isn’t conducive to Trumpism as partisan liberal dogma.

If Americans believed more in experts and expertise from all manner of disciplines, we very likely could’ve saved thousands of needlessly wasted lives.