I didn’t have an easy time coming up with how to create this constraint map, but once I started writing down my ideas it wasn’t hard to see all the places where COVID-19 has impacted our lives. Some aspects of it, like not being able to go to a gym or not getting to frequent a business we like are constraints we see and feel every day. But what about the financial and health constraints that go far beyond what most of Bucknell’s student population has experienced? By that I mean the hardship that comes with being on federal unemployment benefits after getting laid off, constrained to buying just the bare essentials just to be able to make rent. Bottom line is, we’re all constrained in our own ways; it’s just important to realize that there are people who have had constraints placed on their lives that go far beyond our own definition of constraint.
How we addressed this crisis is part of the reason the USA is still seeing such limits on mobility and a toll on our population that has exceeded initial estimates. While other countries (like Italy and Spain) were suffering the brunt of the pandemic, we were still flocking beaches and visiting our families. Of course, our apathy towards beginning the fight is what constrained our ability to combat the disease in the first place. That, coupled with every news outlet reporting different figures has made it all that much harder to get a true gauge on the current state of affairs.
The historical event I looked at was the Bubonic Plague in Europe during the 12th-16th centuries. My inspiration from this came from watching as COVID-19 swept the world, and wondering what more we could have done to stave it off. Though medical knowledge was scarce back then, the Venetians began the practice of isolating ships that came into its harbors for 40 days. (Fun fact, the word “quarantine” comes from the Italian word for “forty.”) Even back when people thought the Earth was the center of the universe, there was still a practice of separating the infected from the healthy. There are lots of stories telling of people in the US being unable to even get a doctor now, much less a test to see if they’re sick. Back in medieval Europe, a plague doctor would almost always come to the afflicted’s house and decide the best course of action. And to think that we’re in the 21st century yet, we still constrain who gets tested and seen to a metric (in this case its pneumonia) that doesn’t even make sense.