“I’ve been seeing a lot of people I know hanging out with friends, and even sharing food, and it doesn’t seem the wisest to me. I think that the main things people need to understand [is that] this virus is still around, to be careful, and to really get creative with what you do.”
Temperatures hit the 80s in some places as families flocked to beaches around the country this past holiday weekend. Friends hit bars together, while some sat poolside, drinks in hand, listening to music, plastering Instagram with pics of the excitement.
Even though it was the start of summer, however, it’s hardly the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Massachusetts announced 44 new coronavirus deaths and nearly 600 new cases on Memorial Day, while surges continue to surface in pockets nationwide.
“Look at the numbers,” Dr. Seema Yasmin, a former disease detective at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN over the weekend in response to the unmasked crowd scenes surfacing on social media. “You’ll see that [last] Thursday, more than 20,000 Americans were infected.”
“The amount of people who have been going out without masks is insane and unsafe, and they’re going to be the reason it goes longer than it should be,” said Chloe Nanian, a second-semester sophomore at Emerson College. Her summer plans to travel with family and to visit her grandmother are cancelled; but as the country reopens, Nanian is still trying her best to enjoy the sun while social distancing.
“Once a week I go to a parking lot and meet the same group of people to minimize the same group people I come in contact with, while still going out and spending time together while staying at least six feet apart,” Nanian said. “I feel like there is a way to stay safe and there’s a way to have fun.”
Massachusetts is one of the last states to reopen, while many other states were already on to their second and third phases last weekend. Videos of hundreds of people partying on Saturday at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri—in large groups, and without social distancing—went viral. Those and similar images don’t tell the whole story though; it’s far less entertaining to show people having fun according to CDC recommendations, but not all young adults and partiers are putting the people around them at risk and recklessly exposing themselves.
“I think that by opening, people have the mentality that everything is okay now,” said Katherine Michaud, a student at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island.
Michaud doesn’t leave the house without a container of Clorox wipes and her mask. She makes sure to always disinfect her hands, keys, door handles in her car, steering wheel, and phone before going anywhere.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of people I know hanging out with friends, and even sharing food, and it doesn’t seem the wisest to me,” Michaud added. “I think that the main things people need to understand [is that] this virus is still around, to be careful, and to really get creative with what you do.”
Michaud mentioned a farm down the street from her, where you can hang out with goats for $10 and social distance, or order food to take to a nice area outside. She’s also committed to safely celebrating her graduation.
“Everything isn’t going to be the same,” Michaud said. “People need to alter their plans. You can still have a good summer.”
“Before, we used to just have to worry about packing sunscreen, but now it’s sunscreen, masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes,” said Jen Campisii, also a student at Roger Williams. Campisii, like most other young adults, had her plans for the season cancelled. She was supposed to visit Florida and meet her boyfriend’s grandparents for the first time in March.
“We really had no choice but to do it sometime this summer, so we don’t lose the money and the tickets,” Campisii said. “We hope there will be things to do. [But] the beach is the same—as long as everyone stays their appropriate distance.”
“I remember being invited to a ‘corona-themed’ party by a friend, which I did not go to,” said Victoria Acosta, a student at Umass Lowell. “I recently hung out with my best friend and went on social distancing hikes.”
When things do open, Acosta said it’s up to businesses to enforce strict policies—so that you don’t end up with situations like out in the Ozarks.
“I definitely think that it will be up to them to keep order,” Acosta said.
Hayley Garcia, who works for Amazon as a video editor, and Molli DeRosa, a recent graduate of Emerson College, have only been strictly seeing immediate family and friends during quarantine. They both say they have found ways to fill up their time as warm weather arrives, all while social distancing and keeping themselves and others safe.
“I think if a couple of your close friends are doing the same—following social distancing guidelines properly—I think it’s alright to have a short outing once in a while. Go to the park for an hour, walk or sit six-feet apart, and wear masks,” DeRosa said. “We still have the ability to enjoy summer, but it’s definitely all about being cautious.”
“I’ve only seen my friends Liv and Sam since this all started,” Garcia said. “We’ve just been walking around their neighborhood, or chilling outside of Sam’s. Trying to be safe, but also staying sane.”
Garcia said that many of her peers would rather pretend the pandemic isn’t happening and live their lives unchallenged. For her, though, it’s important to make sacrifices.
“There’s still plenty of things that people can do while staying safe,” she said.
Chloe Nanian, the Emerson student, expressed fear of even hanging out by her house. Her neighbors have been walking around without masks, without any means of social distancing. Although Nanian agrees that there’s a way to enjoy your summer while staying safe, she fears things are going to get worse.
“I get you miss your friends, but please don’t go partying, or go over each other’s houses constantly,” she said. “This can wait.”