The Secondary Virus


David Holmquist

Two-way traffic: Yellow dividing segments direct hallway traffic during passing times.

Stop in your tracks! A storm is upon us, one in the form of a virus. News of the Corona Virus has spread to the edges of the earth. However, this is not the virus I am talking about.

Is there a specific name for this secondary virus? The worst part is that many stop realizing they have this new virus soon after they catch it. 

What could this secondary virus be that it has spread to more people than the COVID 19 has? This psychological pandemic’s main side effects are lethargy and lack of communication or motivation.

The main cause of the secondary virus is a lack of activity, such as fun events, clubs, sports, and gatherings with other people. Unlike the Coronavirus, this pandemic springs up in most who are at home for longer periods of time.

As a person who experienced all of the symptoms, I want to help anyone who has fallen sick from the secondary virus. I was once a lethargic zombie but had to wake up eventually to keep up with school.

Before school began, many summer events like camps, sports, or reunions were canceled. Emails persistently rolled in about precautions, cancelations, and words of care.

However, the wonderful technology of video calling allows us to still talk to others outside our families. Despite this, the most engaging conversations you could have don’t regard much besides COVID 19, which everyone has heard about already.

Symptoms start appearing once people start staying at home. With events canceled, there is no reason why one cannot constantly sleep in.

Perhaps some experienced the same feeling over Christmas break where they stayed at home. With the freedom from school work, they took advantage of sleeping in or relaxing before realizing the break was already almost over.

The difference between a simple break and the pandemic is that we don’t have a deadline when this break will end. Not only that, but there is nothing jolly about staying quarantined rather than sharing a laugh with friends and family.

The days of sleeping in started to pile up for me because there started to be no reason to get up. I became reluctant to leave my room because I knew the farthest I could go that day was probably my front porch before going back inside.

When school started, I saw my friends that I missed all summer, but we lacked hugs or packing around the same lunch table.

Classrooms were more spread apart which helped avoid direct conversations as well as group work. Almost all tactile activities in core classes had been altered in some way.

Going back to school almost felt like a challenge because I had recently grown into a shell with limited human interaction during quarantine. Suddenly, I didn’t know how to reply to someone or struggled with eye contact that was missing over calls and text.

Students that thrive from tactile learning started to struggle with online school. Students who must communicate with teachers found it harder to understand information through a screen. Before and after school sessions were limited which also built up the same issue of less time to work with a teacher.

Coming to school has less meaning when there are no clubs or sports that help students show their individuality. Everyone began blending into the crowd of lethargic zombies entering and leaving the school on a strict schedule.

Especially with different cohorts, many have been split from the people they normally talk to. Their friends might as well go to a different school or graduate early.


The secondary virus seemed to have side effects as people found their new reality. Some people choose to not live in the new reality and perhaps see friends in an unsafe fashion. 

No matter where you stand on the virus and its effects, there always seems to be someone who opposes your thoughts. My friend group was not only separated by a distance of 6 feet and a mask, but also by our choices and beliefs.

With not much news other than the biggest pandemic of our lifetimes, news about political or global problems skyrocketed such as the Black Lives Matter movement or the presidential election.

I saw a change of light in my friends as they built away from each other with their views rather than helping each other understand a different side of things.

A lack of interaction at school or in public led to long periods of silence between people. I still wonder if people I haven’t seen since this whole fiasco began are doing okay.

Not only did I social distance, but my communication skills and energy ‘socially distanced’ from my brain.

The idea of time became lost when our ‘school’ is working at home. Your gym class becomes jogging with your dog in the mornings while your core classes might be a stream of videos that you lay on the couch watching.

All of these are common problems, but there is plenty of time to problem solve left open to us. I highly suggest writing a letter, whether that be digitally or through the mail, to a friend you haven’t communicated with. Tell them what you have been up to or ask them how they have been.

Imagine you receive a letter from a friend who let you know they were thinking about you. This helps connect you to the outside world. Even shooting someone a quick text asking if they are alright can brighten someone’s day.

Make a habit. This goes for the corona life or how life was previously. Forming habits and routines helps you to be more motivated to continue an activity.

Why this is particularly important during corona is because we perhaps had a normal school study plan or normal exercise plan before the pandemic that perhaps involved going somewhere else/ was specific to how your school schedule worked.

The pandemic may have stopped your normal life cycle, but time itself didn’t stop ticking, and neither does the time before your midterm exams. Homework and learning schedules may have been altered, but are still shaped to cover the same material you would in a normal setting.

Due to this, some perceive that we get less homework because we have days away from school that serve as time to work on things. In reality, these days can be spent watching lectures or doing activities you would be doing in class. Many still have assignments to do at 4:00 PM and later.

Others perceive that there is much more homework piled on us. Honestly, this could be true for some. Teachers offer activities and assignments to students outside of class to do on the off days without actually being able to always tell if an activity has been finished. 

This is where the student comes in. Always try to take advantage of the private comments section on google classroom to let your teacher know if you struggled or need more time on a topic. Perhaps other students feel the same way.

For your friendships, keep in mind what bonded you with someone before the controversial pandemic began. Don’t focus on your differences in opinions for a moment and imagine yourself in a ‘normal’ world. 

However, I don’t discourage you from talking about what you are passionate about. It is important to show our individuality with our limited exposure to others.

When we don’t get to express ourselves through our outfits we wear hanging out with friends or by extracurricular activities, our words and choices become more powerful. Use this power carefully.

Times change and changes change people over time. Perhaps when the pandemic dies down (which feels like it will not for ages), we might be used to our new normal and have trouble going back to our old ‘normal’ without masks, which will feel strangely new.


Although this secondary virus is nowhere as medically dangerous as the Corona virus is, it is no less important. Just because someone doesn’t have COVID 19 does not mean they are not suffering by the hands of COVID 19.

Some might feel like they are drowning in work while others feel that they don’t have enough to do.

For students, take advantage of the size of your smaller classes as an opportunity to get more one on one time with the teacher. For teachers, know there is a whole staff of teachers that might have some tips and tricks for teaching during the pandemic.

Students aren’t the only ones who suffer. Sure, summer is a magical time where kids get to do whatever they want outside of school, but just because school ended early last year does not mean that summer was elongated. You could argue that there was no summer at all.

Growing up does not make unique opportunities like events or days out any less fun. I know that especially my mom was deprived of much joy when she couldn’t always go work out with her friends or help out at our church.

For those who find themselves lacking activities or motivation, try starting a new hobby. I tried picking up sewing which gave me a task to accomplish.

Personally, something like sewing gave me a feeling of success when I was able to finish one project to the next. Activities like this can boost your confidence to keep active.

My main takeaways are to stay in contact with people safely, form a routine, avoid negative or irrelevant conversation that could lead to disagreement, try a new hobby, take advantage of unique opportunities,  and accept change and challenges during this pandemic.

If you have any stories about a case of the secondary virus, I would love to hear it!