Pennsylvanians Current Feelings Towards Covid-19
October 21, 2020
COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in the U.S., including Pennsylvania. With colder weather fast approaching, there are fears cases will go up even more due to being indoors. Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said at a press conference on October 8 that the state doesn’t plan to implement a stay-at-home order or shut down businesses at this time, even though as of October 7, Pennsylvania’s daily case count surpassed 1,000 for a ninth consecutive day, and the average daily number of new confirmed cases was up by more than 50% over the past two weeks, according to The COVID Tracking Project. Severe repercussions were felt with people and their mental health and businesses, many of whom either closed permanently or are struggling to come back after being shuttered for so long. Suicides have been noted to be on the rise and those who either had their hours cut or lost a job or their business struggle both mentally and financially. Dr. David Nabarro, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) special envoy for COVID-19, said on October 9 that the WHO is strongly against national leaders using lockdowns as the primary way to fight COVID-19 because the consequences would devastate people’s mental and economic health, including possibly doubling world poverty.
So, how do people in Northeastern Pennsylvania feel about COVID-19 now? Have their feelings on it changed? What is their future outlook on it? Nancy, a resident in Thompson, Susquehanna County, said she isn’t really concerned for herself but does worry for businesses in the local area. “It doesn’t affect someone like me who is semi-retired as much as someone who owns a business and is self-employed. Right now, restaurants are operating at 50% capacity outside. They aren’t going to be able to do that. A lot of them are going to suffer. Minimum wage jobs. Bus boys. Waitresses. I think it’s going to be hard with the cold weather coming up. A lot of them are only open Thursday-Sunday. I also think some of the businesses that closed down, like hairdressers, didn’t have to. The hairdresser has a mask on. I have a mask on. We could have been doing this all along. Some of those deemed non-essential didn’t have to be shut down,” she said. Nancy also says she worries about the effects shutdowns have on children. “I feel the schoolchildren are suffering. They are young. One day they are going to school. The next day they aren’t. They need consistency.” Overall, she said she isn’t afraid of the virus but does take precautions. “You need to use common sense. Stay away from large crowds. Wash your hands. You can go about your life and take those precautions. I wasn’t afraid to be in the local drugstore today There were four other people there. We stood in the circles. If people do that, you can have a somewhat normal life,” she said.
Kelley Statkun, owner of Kelley’s Salon, Main Street, Forest City, Susquehanna County, said things were scary in the beginning of the pandemic. “In the beginning, we thought we would die immediately. I would take it to my mom and kill her. As the months went by, that wasn’t happening,” she said. Pennsylvania’s shutdown early in the pandemic had a bad impact on Statkun and her business. “I was closed for 14 weeks. I will never close again. The mental and physical toll four to six weeks coming back wasn’t good for anyone.” Statkun said her business has always stressed safety and cleanliness and continues to do so even more so now. “I believe in my business. I am doing one client at a time. It can be done safely. It is safer than going anywhere in a big crowd. I see 30-40 people a week. A large percentage of our schooling was sanitation procedures 30-40 years ago. It’s cleaner than Walmart. I leave more time in between each person. I am not stressed. It’s more relaxed now. It doesn’t feel like an assembly line. No one I have seen has gotten it. We live in a rural area. I have zero fear ,” she said. Like Nancy, Statkun said with precautions, you can live a normal life through COVID-19. “Steve (Statkun’s husband) and I have traveled every month. We went to the Adirondacks and the beach. I can live life safely. The majority of my clients feel the same way,” she said. Statkun said in the end, there has been a silver lining for her business. “My business has changed in a good way. I don’t have to pay an employee now to help out. I am making the same amount of money. The help I got in the beginning from the Small Business Administration (SBA) more than helped me. A representative from TREHAB ( an agency helping people and businesses) Susquehanna County urged me to apply for CARES Act funding in August. As a result, I got six months of my bills paid for,” she said.