Coronavirus’ Effect on the San Diego Science Expo

Coronavirus’ Effect On The San Diego Science Expo

by Yazmin Alatorre, Supervisor, Bioanalytical Chemistry

On Saturday March 7th, I volunteered at the 2020 San Diego Science Expo in Petco Park. I was enthusiastic about seeing the tiniest innovators spark a love for science. I assisted in the Pre-K section by disinfecting Lego blocks and other toys children under 5 were playing with. To my surprise, there were very few attendees this year due to the coronavirus. At the time, it had spread to areas in Europe and people in the US were just beginning to avoid crowds.

Although I was asked to write about my volunteer experience, I think most of us are concerned about only one thing, CORONAVIRUS. There is so much still unknown about this virus which has led to a flood of fear as it is now categorized by the WHO (World Health Organization) as a pandemic. There is fear of who will be infected next or how much longer will it spread for. There is fear of what will happen to our economy, our community, our elderly, our colleagues, our neighbors, our family, our children…ourselves. Many at this point claim to be experts on the coronavirus, but this virus is well above all of our heads, even if we won’t admit it. The lack of control has driven us to empty essentials from supermarkets; starting with face masks, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, water bottles, hand soap, gloves, etc. We all just want it to stop before it escalates to chaos like we’ve only seen in movies.

The fear of the unknown, in my opinion, is leading to a lack of empathy in our society. When someone confides to another that someone they know might have been infected or they might be infected themselves, they are treated as if they have the “cooties” and shoved away immediately instead of treating one another with compassion. We are not in elementary school! Those individuals are left without answers of what to do, where to go or who to talk to. This will only lead others to hold back on sharing this information and therefore increase the rate of spread across our community.

In a time when so much seems out of control, it is crucial we focus on what we can control. Attention to detail to the things right in front of us is vital while keeping in mind the vulnerable individuals who are currently fearing for their lives. In addition to washing your hands for 20 seconds, there is so much more we can do to help our community:

  • Offer to help a colleague while they are out sick; you never know if they will be returning the favor the following month.
  • Before leaving a public area, wipe it down for the safety of the next person.
  • Offer to pick up essentials for your parents, an elderly colleague or elderly neighbor.
  • Force yourself to turn off the news if you are stressed; instead turn on your favorite dance song to boost your mood and those around you (My favorite is Can’t Stop the Feeling! by Justin Timberlake).

These are only a few I came up with, but I’m sure there are so many other great ideas out there. United we can do so much more to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

As many continue to panic due to the unknown of tomorrow, I can’t help but remember that “the unknown” is the reason I fell in love with science. It is crises like these that urge scientists to come to the rescue and be the heroes we are all desperately calling upon. I look forward to volunteering next year at the 2021 Science Expo and hope to see a lot more future scientists attend or, as I like to see them, our future heroes.