Caroline Wallace ‘23
My roommate, Sarah Carew, is from the beautiful island of Newfoundland in Canada. While Newfoundland was impacted by the pandemic, the severity and longevity of the pandemic was not as severe as in the United States. For this reason, it was challenging for Sarah to return back to Massachusetts where there are several hundred, sometimes thousands, of cases of COVID-19 per day in comparison to the 200-case peak that she experienced in her home of Newfoundland. The minimal spike experienced by Newfoundland is the result of both the effectiveness of the Canadian government’s bubble system as well as the prioritization of the community that Newfoundland is notorious for.
Sarah’s summer in Newfoundland was as normal as any other summer prior to the pandemic. Newfoundland was under a strict lockdown from March until the end of May. During this time, everyone followed the government’s guidelines strictly, which allowed cases to go down to zero by the time summer began. This allowed for normal summer activities within the island, as the island was essentially in its own bubble. COVID-19 was under control so much so that Sarah included the fact that “masks were not mandated until September, and it was just a precaution as we anticipated the second spike and extended our bubble to other Atlantic provinces.”
As one can imagine, Sarah was not eager to go from having zero cases of COVID in Newfoundland to coming back to America where COVID has become progressively worse as time goes on. Sarah discussed that she was “fearful of going out into the community,” and that she anticipated restrictions to be “more strict because of how high cases were.” Sarah described looking at the COVID-19 statistics in Massachusetts as something that was “difficult to wrap my head around.” In Newfoundland, cases were so low that even one new case affected everyone. This is partially because of the strong sense of community that exists in Newfoundland. The citizens of Newfound followed the government guidelines strictly not just because the government advised them to do so, but also because of their love for others in the community. Sarah described that during the period of time that there were cases of COVID on the island, there was a “likelihood that you knew the person who had contracted it, and everyone was then affected by it.”
Now, after being back in America for over a month, Sarah has found the ramifications of COVID in Massachusetts to be “not as bad” as she had initially anticipated. She explained that she believes this is due to the fact that “COVID is so normalized here that it has become part of daily life.” She also included that, similar to the community that exists at home, she is comforted by the College of the Holy Cross community in the sense that there is an emphasis to keep each other safe as we are all part of the same community. We can all learn from the Newfoundland community as we continue this semester. We must view the COVID guidelines through the same lens that those in Newfoundland do and understand that the guidelines that exist are helping to keep both ourselves and those we care about safe.