Former Student Experiences Life in Coronavirus Hotspot

Former student Lindsay Schallon lives through the Coronavirus outbreak in one of the hotspots: New York

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Courtesy of Lindsay Schallon

A photo of New York City taken from Lindsay Schallon's balcony. Amid the Coronavirus outbreak, New York streets have become quiet.

At 7 o’clock on a Monday morning, former student Lindsay Schallon’s alarm clock goes off. For the next three or so hours, Schallon, Glamour magazine senior beauty editor, answers phone calls, responds to emails, and prepares to start her day at the office. At 10:30, she arrives at work, eager to assign and edit stories, try new beauty products, and write content for Glamour. She researches, tests products, and meets with staff until it’s time to go home. She returns to her Prospect Heights apartment in Brooklyn, where she’s met by her boyfriend. This routine has become very familiar for Schallon. 

But it’s been interrupted.

    Schallon’s boyfriend, a rescue medic for the Net York Fire Department, was previously showing symptoms of COVID-19, meaning the two were quarantined in their one-bedroom apartment. He’s been cleared to return to work, but Schallon will continue to quarantine herself for an additional seven days. Though Schallon herself is not showing symptoms, she knows it is vital to stay away from other people in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

    “The most important thing that health professionals are saying [is] we need to social distance, we need to quarantine ourselves if we’ve been exposed, we need to take all these precautions very seriously,” Schallon said. “It’s very important to us that we do our part to social distance.”

    Despite being at home, Schallon’s professional work carries on. Much of Schallon’s work is digital, so she is able to continue it without physically being at work.

    “One of the great things about being a digital editor is that we’re very nimble, we can work from anywhere,” Schallon said. “Getting products has been slightly more of a challenge just because a lot of beauty brands, their distribution channels are getting interrupted right now. It’s disrupted my ability to do my job in the sense where I’m having to read a lot of press releases and work very closely with PR reps for different brands.”

    Though working has somewhat helped Schallon keep her mind off the current anxiety-ridden state of the world, she cannot ignore what is happening around her. However, Schallon is trying to avoid constantly thinking about the panic and fear during this outbreak.

    “I’m failing personally in a lot of ways, but I am trying to establish some boundaries for myself,” Schallon said. “I’m trying to log off my computer and not endlessly scroll through Twitter and Instagram, where I’m still just absorbing all the things I’m looking at all day.”

    In this stressful time of isolation, Schallon recommends staying in contact with loved ones as much as possible. Though she cannot be with friends or family in person, she has found ways to see them anyway.

    “I’ve… been doing a lot of Zooms and FaceTimes with my friends. We do it over wine because we’re old people,” Schallon said, chuckling softly. “But we’ll just get a drink and chat and catch each other up on what’s going on in our lives and what we’re watching and what we’re excited about and what we can’t wait to do once we finally all can go see the great outdoors.”

    For some of Schallon’s fellow New Yorkers, being in the great outdoors isn’t an impossibility. Despite being quarantined, even Schallon herself has the opportunity to get some fresh air from within the confines of her apartment.

Photo courtesy of Lindsay Schallon:
A photo of Lindsay Schallon sitting on her balcony. “I’m one of the few lucky people in New York who has the teeny tiniest balcony I can step out on.”

    “I’m one of the few lucky people in New York who happens to have the teeny tiniest balcony that I can step out on, so during the day I’ve been trying to go out there and get some fresh air and take five minutes to myself where I’m not just staring endlessly into a computer screen,” Schallon said. “My friends… all live in the same neighborhood, I’m pretty far from them… but one of them will go on a walk and then the other will come to their front door and they’ll stay 10 feet apart but they’ll yell at each other.”

    Though she cannot see her loved ones in person, being isolated is not Schallon’s biggest concern. One thing she cannot keep her mind off of is the fact that some of her friends have been left with no means of financial support.

    “I’ve had a number of friends who have lost their jobs already, and it’s really upsetting. A friend of mine is a line chef at a very trendy Brooklyn restaurant and he was told almost immediately that he would have to go on unemployment,” Schallon said. “These are people who often live paycheck to paycheck, so they are now grappling with where will their income come from, how long is this going to last.”

    With concerns running rampant throughout New York, activity has undoubtedly died down (check out this live footage of the now vacant Times Square). The emptiness of the city is very foreign to New Yorkers, including Schallon.

    “It’s kind of crazy to see New York looking like a ghost town. I mean, Times Square is empty,” Schallon said. “All of these places that I love and I frequent quite regularly, it’s wild to see them totally empty.”

    While the emptiness of the city is unfamiliar and even frightening, it is for the best. According to Business Insider, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been urging the importance of social distancing. Schallon admires Cuomo’s efforts to battle COVID-19.

    “I think Cuomo has actually done a really fantastic job handling this crisis. He’s been very direct and very calm, but also forceful in what the public needs,” Schallon said. “He’s been giving his press conferences based on science and facts, and I think… we need to continue to make sure that we’re holding our officials accountable to presenting us factual, science-based information.”

    While Schallon is grateful for Cuomo’s actions thus far, she acknowledges that there is much more to be done in order to combat COVID-19.

    “I think the federal government needs to continue to listen to the scientists in charge at the CDC, and make choices for the American public based on scientific fact,” Schallon said. “It’s better to prepare for a worst-case scenario, it’s better to be over-prepared.”

    According to USAToday, there is a severe lack of equipment for healthcare professionals and hospital space for patients. Schallon says this unpreparedness is extremely prevalent in New York.

    “There are incredibly serious shortages of healthcare equipment, they call it PPE,” Schallon said. “Doctors have been told to use them as much as they can, EMT’s have a shortage of them, and these are people who are risking their lives to go out and save the rest of us. I worry what it is doing for their physical health but also their mental health. When people have to get put in a situation where they have to decide who lives and who doesn’t get a respirator, that’s a heavy weight that is not going to be lifted from those healthcare professionals.”

    Schallon’s biggest concern is the people who may not recover from COVID-19 if they catch it. She urges people to take this situation more seriously and hopes actions necessary to battle COVID-19 will be taken.

    “My biggest concern is the health of people who are more easily susceptible to this virus, so people… who are immunocompromised or people who are above 65,” Schallon said. “I just hope that we’re able to get all the equipment that we need in order to flatten the curve. The faster we adapt, the faster we’ll be able to flatten the curve and the faster we’ll be able to handle this pandemic, but we need swift action.

    Though this situation is unprecedented and frightening and lonely at times, Schallon urges people to acknowledge that they’re not alone in this fight. 

    “We’re in this together and we have to support our friends and support our neighbors,” Schallon said. “This world is so much more than just ourselves, we have to take care of other people. It’s our responsibility.”