The Crusader Newspaper Group
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A risky flight and a loving family during the pandemic

Sharon Joy Washington in 2019 graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from Florida A&M University. Washington served as a 2019 summer intern at the Chicago Crusader as part of the Discover The Unexpected (DTU) summer internship program sponsored by General Motors. Washington currently works as a production assistant for a major film studio in Los Angeles, but her hometown is Seattle.

By Sharon Joy Washington

Just days before the state of California’s governor announced a stay-at-home-order, I took a cheap and risky flight back home to Washington State to be in my hometown with my mother. The decision to fly during the pandemic was swift but intended.

I’m an entry-level employee in television production with no healthcare plan. My initial plans were to listen to my direct leadership and to leave the city later that week, but things changed abruptly. The studio lot itself gave orders for all projects to cease production. This is when I knew that this pandemic might be more dangerous than I originally thought.

I realized that being slow to make a decision on where to self-quarantine would lead me to the constraints of being stuck in my room alone and living off my savings. God-forbid if I contracted the virus. How would I be able to care for myself if I couldn’t breathe?

It only made sense to board a flight and go home.

I was afraid of traveling through the airports in two hot spot states. I’ve drawn the conclusion that airports brought this infection to all of our front doors. This is based on the timeline of the virus and the international travel that positively correlates with the most affected areas (Washington, California, Michigan, New York, Florida).

I had to make my own disinfectant wipes since stores all over the city were sold out. Fortunately, I had just moved into my new apartment and purchased cleansing supplies days before the frenzy. I used disinfectant spray to create wipes that I placed in sandwich bags. I would use them to clean my seat on the plane.

I made a makeshift mask out of a hair scarf and covered myself with an extra layer of clothing to leave outside before I entered my home in Washington.

When I boarded my flight, the airplane was nearly empty. There were maybe 30 people aboard an aircraft that normally carries at least 200 passengers. There wasn’t much traffic at the usually congested airport in Washington either.

All that I packed for my trip was a pair of slippers and ‘house’ clothes. Meaning, I planned to stay indoors for the duration of this crisis.

I was warmly greeted by my mother and was happy to see that she was in good health, yet unable to give her a hug in keeping with social distancing precautions. Yesterday marked my 14th day of being home, and if I do carry the virus then I am asymptomatic.

Honestly, I am still afraid.

If I were to contract this thing, I wouldn’t be able to afford the medical attention that it requires. If I were to experience symptoms, I’d be afraid for my life and the lives of those who I may affect in the same experience.

Overall, I am doing my best to stay home, only leaving for critical trips to the supermarket for groceries. I’m blessed to have a decent savings account that keeps me from worrying about falling behind on my rent or student loan bills for the month of April. I am near a loving family in case anything happens.

I’m taking it day by day and trying to remain inspired and faithful through it all.

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