Continued health implications, productivity factors in pandemic conversations

Ron Randall lives in the main studio apartment at El Rio Mobile Home Park in Stockton, California.
Ron Randall lives in the main studio apartment at El Rio Mobile Home Park in Stockton, California.

More than two million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed globally as of April 15. The United States is at nearly 796,000 cases and about 42,600 deaths.

As the pandemic spreads and grows in scale, it’s important to keep local voices in mind.

To that end, I spoke with Ron Randall, the manager at El Rio Mobile Home Park in Stockton, about his thoughts on the novel coronavirus and its health implications.

As of March 27, the more than 82,000 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. at that point had surpassed both Italy and China. Randall says he wasn’t surprised. He says that in the U.S., records “are being kept more reliable [compared to] foreign countries who tend to be more secretive about that kind of thing, anyway.”

“We’re just being more upfront about it than they are,” Randall said.

Randall thinks that fear may cause a decrease in job performance.

“If they’re focused on their phobias instead of their job, then they’re falling out of performing as well,” he said.

This can transition into the workforce in America.

According to Univision, the American supply chain can be severely affected by COVID-19. Farm workers have to work in close proximity and that is an opportunity to get infected by the virus. The United States depends on millions of agricultural workers, some of whom are undocumented or are here with the H-2A visa program. If the amount of labor were to decrease, so would the harvesting of crops – many of which America’s food supply relies on. This also affects productivity and if farmworkers will want to continue their jobs – which could affect demand of crops.

With shelves being emptied out, it is difficult for one to consider going to their local grocery store and expecting to have a stock full of products to buy. Simply, people are purchasing groceries at a high rate, and it does not take much for a consumer to notice. Recently, my local supermarket has been vacant of products such as vegetables, fruits, canned foods, and, most importantly, water.

Randall said he thinks the commotion that the pandemic has caused, with people waiting in line hours before sunrise to enter stores, is “silly.”

“I think it’s silly that everybody run out to the store and stock up on stuff. I think it’s really silly that the government is doing a government shut-down,” he said. “I think they all just let it run its course.”

Because of the poor information that people have about a new virus, things tend to get a bit tense. Dr. Baruch Fischhoff in “Speaking of Psychology: Coronavirus Anxiety,” an American Psychological Association podcast, explains the psychology in humans and why they fear the seasonal flu less than the new virus. The flu is something well known. In all, there is a vaccine for the flu and since people have knowledge of this flu, it does not worry them.

Unlike the flu, the new virus is relatively unknown. It is known that the virus is part of a family of coronaviruses, but that alone is not enough to find a cure.

As for whether Americans are playing it safer, Randall thinks there might be a slight increase.

“I don’t think they’re playing it any safer than they have been before with the exception of a small percentage of people,” Randall said. “I say we’re going to have a 10 percent increase on the number of people who are going to wash their hands after they touch a doorknob or put on a mask when they go outside. I think if you stepped out in the town right now and looked around, you’d probably see people wearing a mask – a small percentage of them.”

As the situation continues to get worse, it is important to play it safe.The CDC recommends to those who feel sick to stay home, regardless of who is working. If one of your family members tested, or is feeling sick, it is important for the household to stay at home and call a medical provider. This will help to slow the spread. For more information regarding symptoms, what to do if you are sick and how to protect yourself, visit the Centers for Disease Control website.