Vaccine release and other safety opportunities allow for people to see their family and friends

Many people look forward to celebrations, such as birthdays or weddings. They love to be surrounded by family and catch up or relax with their other friends; however, group gatherings and in-person communication have been on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, causing mask mandates and social distancing precautions to be put in place. As important as it was to follow these guidelines, many cannot help but wish to see their loved ones. This is slowly coming to an end because of the recent release of vaccines, which means more people are beginning to see their friends and family for the first time in months. 

Teacher Kevin Horwitz had recently seen his family but had to wait quite some time to be able to do this. He has been taking COVID-19 precautions to ensure the safety of his family and friends. 

“I’m used to getting together with my parents, my wife’s parents, her sister, and the cousins. And we just couldn’t see each other. It definitely was kind of sad and a little scary,” Horwitz said. “People go day by day without thinking of how tomorrow could change for everyone. This caused many to forget to appreciate the little things they could do before the virus spread]. 

Junior Jasmine Aguliar acknowledges that she wished that she had stopped to appreciate the small things that she was able to do before coronavirus. 

“You don’t really understand how much you miss out on until it’s taken away from you,” Aguliar said. “The decrease of social interactions and small trips, like grocery shopping or even school, had a significant impact once it was taken away from people. 

This viewpoint is also shared by junior Nina Garcia, who has also been following COVID-19 guidelines as well. Nina remained in quarantine for about four months before being able to do small things like a socially distanced hangout. 

“I miss the little excursions, like just going to the store with my friends or going to the store with my parents. I miss that,” Garcia said. The freedom of going to the store and feeling safe was often cut short when cases began rising in their area. It can be hard to feel comfortable when the data shows that an individual could be putting themselves at risk for the virus due to rising cases. 

The rising cases of COVID-19 are often attributed to the carelessness of other people. Things like throwing parties, not wearing masks, and not social distancing can all be factors that lead to another quarantine. 

“It’s very disheartening and annoying to see that so many people got COVID, especially teenagers, and they think it’s funny,” Aguilar said. A reckless mindset and the carefree habits that have been exhibited by many, especially teenagers, have a dangerous effect on their community. It not only puts others in danger, but the COVID regulations become harsher and the quarantine becomes longer when cases begin increasing.

It can be hard to go through the quarantine without interaction from people outside a person’s immediate family, or even find cool ways to hang out while maintaining social distance. So many found new and creative ways to get together with their friends and families. 

“I would set up a T.V. in my open garage and some guys would come over to watch the Bears game,” Horwitz said. “You know, socially distanced in the garage with the door open.” This provides a safe, but fun, alternative to a typical watch party! Another common method of communication was Zoom. Zoom has become increasingly popular, and as much as people are tired of it, Zoom helped families come together as close as they could during times of uncertainty. 

With all of the risks, more and more people are feeling comfortable seeing their loved ones again. This is due to a variety of new advancements, such as the release of vaccines and lower amounts of COVID-19 cases. 

“The vaccine definitely helped me feel safer. I got my first shot and I’m getting my second shot next week. Just the facts and the data help me feel better seeing people,” Garcia said. This thought process is the case for many people, as the vaccines are now being distributed more frequently. This is a step in the right direction and could help society get back to some normalcy, such as seeing others and being safer from the virus. 

Reflection of life before COVID-19 and the integration of social events back into people’s daily lives is a reminder to appreciate every little moment, as none of it is guaranteed for the future. With everyone’s cooperation and efforts, more stories of people reuniting with their loved ones can be shared. Social distancing and mask-wearing is important to do, and it can eventually lead to the end of the pandemic.