Six Feet Apart

The impact of COVID-19 on my journey to Japan


submitted by Alyssa Bailey

My brothers and I stand outside the store with masks secured on our faces. We were advised to not touch any products and daily sanitize our exposed skin.

Alyssa Bailey, Co-Editor-in-Chief

In more ways than one, the coronavirus has deeply affected everyone worldwide, including myself. This nationwide pandemic is a zoonotic virus referring to the transmission between animals and people.

Several known cases of this virus are circulating in animals that have not infected humans. Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has immensely spread throughout the United States, making it the No. 1 country infected with this outbreak. With 435,128 total confirmed cases and +201 new cases, as of April 8, the United States has surpassed China and Spain with China’s total confirmed cases ranging from 81,865 and Spain’s total confirmed cases at an estimated 148,220, according to While we acknowledge that the virus primarily targets the elderly and those suffering chronic illnesses, it hasn’t limited itself to targeting all people. However, there’s little information given about the virus, so what exactly is COVID-19?

The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that range from the common cold to a more critical disease – both of which can include but are not limited to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). It has common symptoms relating to influenza but unlike the flu, the symptoms for coronavirus don’t often exhibit itself until two weeks after the fact of being exposed to it. While I have not been exposed to this virus to become susceptible to it, I am one of the billions of individuals on this earth that have been affected by it.

About a month ago, I received unfortunate news that my grandfather, currently residing in Japan, suffered from an ischemic stroke, as well as pneumonia and MRSA. At the time, Japan had a low estimated number of confirmed cases; since then, Japan’s total confirmed cases has risen to 4,667. The gradual rise of COVID-19 was beginning to skyrocket, and the unbearable news I received erupted another level of stress I felt like I couldn’t manage. Within the next couple of days, it became clear that my family and I would be booking flights and traveling to Japan as soon as possible. Coincidently, the idea of school seemed almost non-existent for me and I soon discovered that it would be for everyone. While we all wished school would come to an end, this isn’t quite what we meant. 

This was possibly the most dangerous time to be traveling but nevertheless, emergencies don’t occur at any time of convenience, as if there is one. Upon arriving, it was evident that any single droplet produced by a cough or a sneeze was depicted as harmful because of how easily those particles can be inhaled through open airways. It was astonishing to witness that not even three months ago, people were coughing and sneezing left and right without covering their mouths; now, it was almost seen as a prohibited act because that constituted as the individual carrying the virus. There’s been numerous misconceptions about myself contracting the virus since I traveled to Japan and it’s safe to say that I do not have it, despite assumptions.

For safety concerns, I self-quarantined for two weeks and remained at home for the following few weeks before leaving my house, which was a difficult task to maintain. While I was traveling and throughout my journey in Japan, I continuously washed my hands, wore protective gloves and always had a mask secured on my face. Especially during the moments when I visited my grandfather in the hospital, I was advised to keep my hands away from my face and consistently sanitize my skin that was exposed. My family and I felt restricted in the hotels seeing as how businesses were now on lockdown and currently losing revenue. The media has played a significant role in this outbreak by ensuring updates regarding the cancellation of different events, such as the Olympics, upcoming concerts and festivals. 

There’s little time that remains of senior year and I speak for everyone when I say that this most definitely isn’t how I wanted to spend my last year of high school. I speak for everyone when I say that this isn’t how anyone wanted to spend their days lounging at home. Social distancing isn’t as simple as I believed it would be, but if there’s anything I’ve learned within these last few weeks, it is that it’s important to reflect on the precious moments in life spent with the people that matter the most. Appreciating those that stick by your side has such a powerful effect and it’s easy to forget how impactful someone’s influence can be.

Most of all, it’s courteous to be aware of your surroundings and be mindful of the surfaces you touch to prevent contracting the virus. This, of course, cannot be stressed enough but please, wash your hands.