Communal living spaces like college dorms or nursing homes can be a breeding ground for bacteria and disease. This was proven in the early days of the covid-19 pandemic when these spaces seemed to be most affected. For senior citizens, this made sense, since they are already a vulnerable group, but one might not have expected so many young, healthy adults to have been affected. The issue is that it can be difficult to contain the spread once one resident is infected since residents typically have to leave their rooms and enter communal spaces, coming into contact with others, in order to use the restroom, bathe, or eat. When dealing with disease and quarantine in spaces like this, it’s difficult for those responsible for residents to identify the line between caution and neglect.
Assisted Living Facilities
When the pandemic first started, nursing homes were very quickly affected. To combat the rapid spread, some assisted living facilities forced the residents into lockdown, only allowing essential visitors in the building and keeping residents contained in their rooms. While this forced quarantine and increased social distancing between residents and their caregivers were meant to protect the health of the residents, it created the potential for tragedy. It is important for senior citizens to be closely monitored to prevent choking, falls, and infection. With the way that quarantine hindered the staff’s ability to monitor residents properly, these tragedies could not be prevented as efficiently. There are too many sad stories of senior citizens who died from sepsis from an infection during the pandemic because their quarantine left them neglected.
Many senior citizens in nursing homes also found that their mental health suffered as a result of neglect in addition to their physical health. During this time, visits from family and friends were limited, causing residents to feel more lonely. As a result, more and more people sought remote therapy sessions as a way of coping with the emotional strain of isolation.
When the pandemic first started and everything began shutting down, college students who tested positive for covid-19 were forced to quarantine in their dormitory for a full two weeks, only being allowed to leave their room to shower or use the restroom. Some schools shuffled students around so that those with covid-19 were able to quarantine in a room by themselves so as not to infect anyone else, some of these schools were even forced to convert lounges into makeshift dorms to make enough space for everyone. Other schools chose to quarantine entire door rooms all at once, arguing that any roommates of someone who tested positive would have already been exposed and would run the risk of contaminating others if they were carrying the disease without displaying any symptoms.
With such a wide demand for quarantines and so little organization, it was difficult for some schools to enforce all of the protocols put in place to stop the spread. It’s likely that during this time, you might have seen social media posts where students bragged about breaking quarantine and sneaking into friends’ dorms to hang out, or students ignoring rules about social distancing and limiting interaction, and hosting secret parties off-campus. The residents of college dorms could get away with breaking protocols and ignoring safety measures because, unlike the residents of assisted living facilities, they were not under constant supervision.
After seeing videos and photos of this reckless behavior, it was difficult to feel any sympathy for the students who were stuck in quarantine–that was, of course, until a trend emerged where students would post pictures of the absurd bagged meals that their schools provided them with since they were not allowed to leave their dorms to go to dining halls. These posts exposed the lack of preparedness, organization, and care in some schools in the wake of the pandemic.
Sometimes, schools would fail to deliver meals every day or would wait until late at night to deliver that day’s three meals. Students also complained that their schools had ignored their dietary restrictions after being provided with the information, and others complained that when their meals did arrive, they were not sufficient enough to actually provide nourishment. Some students posted ‘unboxing’ videos of their meals, pulling out random condiments, whole loaves of sliced bread, or assorted granola bars and fruits. There were some students who were lucky enough to get frozen meals but had to remind their schools that they weren’t allowed to have microwaves in their dorms. When they found out about these questionable lunches that their students were receiving, some schools provided their students with gift cards to food delivery apps, so they could get more food for themselves if their delivered meals were not satisfactory.