Concerns surface for families overseas during COVID-19 pandemic

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As the world faces the growth of the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns that may have been solely for one’s immediate family now extend to relatives in other countries for many Harrisites.

Harrisites expressed how they feel about having families outside of the country, and how the worldwide threat can potentially affect them. Freshman Arietta Xylas stated, “It’s definitely stressful knowing that my grandparents and aunt are in Greece where the coronavirus levels are rising, and it’s nerve wracking knowing that if anything were to happen, none of us can be there.”  

As COVID-19 is known to be especially dangerous to the elderly, this is also an additional concern to take into consideration. Junior Joyce Zheng, who has relatives in Fuzhou, China, commented, “I was constantly worried that my grandparents would be affected by [the virus] because of their own age and weak immune system. For the other distant relatives, I wasn’t as worried because they were still young and healthy.”

For students who haven’t seen their relatives for a long time, the pandemic has made the longing to see them safe even greater. Senior Ashley Cholula stated, “More than half of my family lives in Mexico, including my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces. Our only source of communication with them is through phone calls.”

She continued, “My stress levels have increased because of the pandemic since my grandparents are already frail and have less immunity. My parents haven’t seen them face-to-face for around sixteen years, and it is a terrifying thought.”

The pandemic has caused several countries worldwide to put a multitude of restrictions in place to help contain the virus, from the closure of nonessential businesses to lockdowns and travel bans. Sophomore Sai Choudari, whose grandparents live in India, stated, “Recently, India has announced a twenty-one day country quarantine, so I know that the proper measures have been taken to ensure safety.” 

Despite all of this, maintaining contact with these relatives has been essential, whether it be through messaging apps, video chats, or phone calls. Arietta and Joyce use Messenger and WeChat respectively, with both apps offering video chat, voice call, and messaging options. Sai concluded, “I know that [my grandparents are] safe because they usually stay inside and have all the materials needed, so they shouldn’t be too much to worry about as long as they follow the rules.”