Pandemic reactions at home and abroad

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brenden Fowler, 86th Aerospace Medicine Squadron independent duty medical technician, screens Airmen for COVID-19 symptoms before allowing them to travel to Plovdiv, Bulgaria for Thracian Summer 2020, Aug. 10, 2020. The screening consists of checking temperature and answering a series of questions about physical health and recent travel locations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Devin Nothstine)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brenden Fowler, 86th Aerospace Medicine Squadron independent duty medical technician, screens Airmen for COVID-19 symptoms before allowing them to travel to Plovdiv, Bulgaria for Thracian Summer 2020, Aug. 10, 2020. The screening consists of checking temperature and answering a series of questions about physical health and recent travel locations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Devin Nothstine)

Pandemic reactions at home and abroad

by Jennifer Brown
Stripes Guam

Editor’s note: At Stripes Guam, we love to share your stories and share this space with our community members. Here is an article written by Jennifer Brown, a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. If you have a story or photos to share, let us know at guam@stripes.com.

 

Despite us sending out good vibes and wishes, it seems that this pandemic continues to create uproar among us. For those who have been stuck at home and have finally begun working again, just the act of physically going back to work can be distressing. In my case, as someone who has had to travel during this pandemic, I have noticed many cultural differences in regard to wearing masks and social distancing in the U.S. and in Japan. 

On a four-day journey back to the States, these differences were predominant amongst my fellow Americans who were selective in when and where they wore their masks. My trip back to California included stops in mainland Japan and Hawaii, but it wasn’t until I arrived at my final destination where the discrepancies in face mask protocol were obvious. I expected that after traveling from Japan, where COVID-19 numbers were declining at the time, to the U.S. where numbers have skyrocketed with no end in sight, there would be more people wearing face masks.

Not only were there not as many people wearing facemasks, but of the ones that were, a fraction of them do not wear them properly. In particular, people tend to wear face masks under their nose or wear them too loose around their face. This type of behavior has been a huge culture shock for me. I had grown so accustomed to seeing Japanese people and fellow servicemembers on Okinawa wearing their masks out in public, that in California, the lack of masks on people out at markets, restaurants and other public areas was concerning.

In addition to the relaxed adherence to face mask protocol, social distancing measures in the States was another issue that hasn’t really become a habit. In Okinawa, both facemask use, and social distancing is a normalized part of the culture. In California, this new normal seems to be taking some time to settle in.

As the cases continue to grow globally, abiding by the measures set forth by health officials is so important. The differences to how the locals are reacting to the pandemic in both my home country and host country have made me aware of that. And while travel for me is inevitable even during this time, I know I must take control of my own safety and work towards keeping those around me safe.

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Jennifer Brown is a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. Originally from Florida, she joined the Navy in 2018, and has been on island for over a year. During her free time Brown enjoys spending time with animals, running, rock climbing, and hiking. She is an alumnus of the University of Central Florida, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Her professional interests include social work, animal welfare, and children.

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