George Cole

 

My name is George Cole. As of the creation of this archive I am 19 years old and currently reside in the village of Hyannis in Barnstable, Massachusetts, where I was born and raised. I live with my father who is a public transit driver, my mother who is a special education teacher, and my brother who is 17 and a student at Barnstable High School. I attended public schools in the Barnstable School District and now attend Georgetown University where I am currently a freshman. I plan to major in political economy and I am on the heavyweight men’s rowing team. Since I was young I have aspired to hold political office because of the unique perspective I have from my dad’s life as a working class laborer and growing up distinctly middle class. I currently, as this archive would suggest, am practicing social distancing at my house as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

About my collection

With my archive I intend to inform future generations of the events surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak, particularly from my perspective as a college student in the United States. The way I have created my archive is through a series of journal entries and related documents, including news articles. I hope that I have been able to capture my emotions through this and bring light to the concurrent non-coronavirus stories that are not getting much air time, such as that of several members of the United States Senate selling massive amounts of stocks after receiving classified briefings. I believe that my annotation of my journal entries with news articles will be helpful as even digital news articles often disappear and the ease of access presented by the source material existing in the same location as the journal entries will allow for easy exploring of what I write about in my entries.

 
 
 
 
 

March 24th, 2020

So this is my first journal entry of quarantine as part of Dr. Chakravarti’s Covid-19 archive. I think this is a great idea and hopefully I will be able to access this archive in fifty years or so and be able to look back upon this with my children and grandchildren. Furthermore, I hope that this journal and my classmates’ archival materials may provide insight into the thoughts of our generation during this for posterity. I am very grateful that I am able to be a small part of this archive, and I hope that there are many more being created in parallel to this one. It seems everyone is so caught up in the present that we forget to document events that will help inform future generations. After all, it is said that “history repeats itself”, and those who don’t know history are doomed to suffer the same consequences as those experiencing it the first time, as we are now.

Today my mother informed me that my cousin and her boyfriend have been diagnosed with Covid-19, the infection likely originating from his work as a firefighter in the Boston Fire Department. Fortunately, they are both in their 20’s and very healthy, so there is little worry in my family as to their recovery. I think it is important to talk about the supplies situation. Some stores in my town of Barnstable, Massachusetts have been ransacked, like BJ’s Wholesale Club and Trader Joe’s. However, the Star Market across the street from me in my poorer section of town in the village of Hyannis is fairly well stocked, with only toilet paper and hand sanitizer being in short supply. My mom joked that it’s like the difference between Fox News and NPR, that's to say the stores which cater to a more affluent and liberal consumer base have been ransacked as a result of the imminent threat that Covid has been posed as by the more mainstream media and the more lax response Fox News has given. I am troubled by both portrayals. Fox News has been changing it’s tone and is now more serious in regards to the virus just as President Trump has similarly done, worrying less about the economy and how far we can push it until the results are “irreversible”; whereas the mainstream media has pushed their Covid-19 coverage to the point of fear-mongering and are at least partially and at worst fully responsible for the ransacking of supermarkets.

I would be remiss to not mention what I view as a disgusting act by four senators as reported by many news outlets, including The Hill on March 20: “Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) each sold hundreds of thousands of dollars in stocks within days of the Senate holding a classified briefing on Jan. 24 with Trump administration officials on the threat of the coronavirus outbreak”. Furthermore, Sen. Burr wrote an opinion piece for Fox News downplaying the virus just days before selling the stocks, and two weeks later changed tone, or possibly revealed his true feelings about the virus and compared it to the Spanish Flu at a private luncheon, as reported by NPR:

 

“The stocks were sold in mid-February, days after Mr. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, wrote an opinion article for Fox News suggesting that the United States was “better prepared than ever before” to confront the virus. At least three other senators sold major stock holdings around the same time, disclosure records show.Two weeks after Mr. Burr sold his stocks, he spoke at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington to a nonpartisan group called the Tar Heel Club, warning that the virus could soon cause a major disruption in the United States.”

 

Some, such as Sen Loeffler have claimed that their investments are run independently by advisors, but the Senator from Georgia, whose husband is the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, is not believed by most. Who knows how this will play out, likely the powerful politicians will not get in any trouble and escape with only their reputations scuffed as we have seen time and time again in politics. Moreover, the outbreak is likely to distract from any possibility of an investigation, and as a result it is doubtful that anything meaningful will happen in regards to punishment of their actions. However, while some profit off this virus, a great many Americans come together. The resolve of the American people has been tested time and time again, and we have always persevered and bounced back. It Is not about how many times you get knocked down, it’s about what you do when you get back up, and the American people will continue to get back up and save lives. God bless America, and God bless the world at this trying time.

 
 

March 28th, 2020

            The virus has broken out in NYC in epic proportions. It is worrisome to see, but the rate of change of new cases, at least as reported has seemed to slow in the U.S.  The amount of daily new cases rose by almost 4,000 from March 25 (13,355 new cases) to March 26 (17,224 new cases) whereas there was only an increase of approximately 1500 new cases from March 26 to March 27 (18,691 new cases) as reported by worldometers.info. However, I am not hopeful by any means that this signals a slowing of the rate of infection, rather it is a result of not enough testing and in truth the rate of new daily cases has only risen and we simply have not realized it. Speaking of testing, we can now test for antibodies and Abbott Laboratories was approved yesterday by the FDA to produce their product which can detect positive Covid-19 results in as little as 5 minutes. To bring things back to my earlier entry, the stocking of the supermarkets near me remains the same, with my nearby store Star Market fairly well stocked and the more affluent Trader Joe’s ravaged by people preparing for the worst. We will get through this, and I can only hope it will be over soon.

 
 
 

April 3rd, 2020

            Today was the first day I have seen (virtually on Zoom) my entire extended family since this lockdown began. While I had planned to see them over Easter as it is a big deal for my Irish Catholic family who all reside in the Greater Boston area, that will not be possible as Governor Charlie Baker has extended the stay-home “guidance” through May 4th. Today has been the deadliest day and has had the most new confirmed cases, as each day until at least April 14 is predicted to bring high tolls of both infections and death as testing increases and can more accurately portray the total number of those infected. The good news is that my cousin and her boyfriend who have Covid-19 are doing well and still recovering. I don’t have much else to do other than homework, go on my phone and use my rowing machine now that my family has finished the available Star Wars on streaming and struggle each night to find a good movie. Shazam was quite a disappointment last night. The Star Market near me is still well stocked whereas the other stores remain continually plundered. I is truly amazing to see how the response to this virus has become partisan, with Florida not even closing beaches until March 28, which I understand was a result of pressures on Gov. Ron DeSantis to keep the beaches open through spring break to give Florida tourism-based businesses needed income. However, I believe such decision will reflect poorly on DeSantis for many years to come, just as it will for those Governors such as Kay Ivey  of Alabama who just four days ago reaffirmed “we are not California”, refusing to impose stay-at-home order while their coronavirus cases per-capita are almost identical. Fortunately, it is finally evident enough even to the most reluctant governors, such as Kay Ivey who just yesterday announced she would impose a stay-home order tomorrow, April 5. Decisions made now will affect many generations to come, and leaders will be judged on how they value human life against the economy.

© 2020 Dr. Ananya Chakravarti

Thanks to Rajeev Kozhikattuthodi, Eshan Gupta, and Jaron Berman for their help in building this website.

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