To help link this curriculum’s clinical, epidemiological, and social principles into real-world human narratives, the modules will repeatedly reference two characters. We’d like to introduce them now:
Brian is a healthy, 22 year-old college senior in Boston who just received a 5-day notice to pack up his dorm room belongings, say goodbye to his friends, and return home. He posts on Twitter about being mad at the administration for taking such “ridiculous measures” and “ruining his senior spring.” He has been looking forward to walking at graduation with his friends all year and now the school has made it “virtual.” To celebrate these last few days of school, he goes out to dinner with his roommates and is surprised when the restaurant is basically empty. He is convinced the chances he’ll get COVID-19 are miniscule--there’s only a few dozen cases in Boston--and even if he does, he’ll be asymptomatic. People are overreacting, he thinks to himself. It’s just a bad cold, right?
He puts on a brave face, but inside he is really concerned. He doesn’t have a place to live after graduation and was planning on staying with his grandmother, Diane, until he earned enough money to pay rent. Now he’s being told he can’t move in with her because of the dangers he may pose to her. On top of that, he has no earnings, student debt, and a post-grad job that is on indefinite hold.
The next day, he notices that a few people have commented on his insta-story from last night at dinner with his friends, reprimanding him for being irresponsible and not “socially distancing.” Brian feels like they are acting holier-than-thou and is frustrated that they don’t understand everything he is going through right now.
Diane is a 72 year-old woman who has COPD, heart failure, depression, and anxiety. She’s proud to live on her own in an independent living facility for the elderly in the middle of the city. She was planning on housing her grandson, Brian, after graduation from college until he could find a place to live but she doesn’t think that is a good idea anymore given everything that is going on with the coronavirus madness. Over the last few weeks, she’s watched the news carefully, becoming more and more alarmed as the case numbers are rising. In particular, she’s heard that people who are older and have other health conditions are more at risk, and she is reminded of her late husband, who passed away last year of complications from the flu. Making things worse are her concerned children, who live across the country. They call her and plead that she isolate herself at home. But she can’t--she doesn’t have any help, so Diane walks to her local supermarket to stock her pantry and purchase what she has heard to be necessities, including cleaning wipes, masks, and soap. At the store, her heart pounds. The home supply shelf is completely empty.