The Cost of COVID-19

EvCC students share the lasting effects COVID-19 has on their lives.


Courtesy Photo from Leeanna Digruccio.

Leeanna Digruccio, an EvCC Student, is playing games on her Nintendo Switch in a darkly lit room.

It’s a common mistake. Whether you went to a public place or went mask-less around your friends, you’ve probably succumbed to pandemic fatigue and went against COVID-19 guidelines. When we’re all collectively facing what feels like an endless quarantine, there are always going to be people acting against what’s safe for just a moment of “normal” life.

However, with vaccines going full speed ahead and a potential campus reopening on the way, it’s more important than ever to maintain your health and avoid those temptations. To learn more, The Clipper invited two students to tell their unique stories and show us what they have done to keep burnout at bay.

First is Leeanna Digruccio. She’s a confident freshman, a dedicated parent and when it comes to COVID-19, she takes serious measures. For the online friends she’s fought with, they would argue it’s too much caution. “I’ve lost a lot of friendships along the way”, she said in reflection. “It’s because of how seriously I’ve taken all this.”

However, once you know her story, others would argue it’s within reason. Even last January, when COVID-19 was just an international headline, it was enough to trigger her Contamination OCD. “I couldn’t sleep. I would spend hours reading and obsessing about the disease because I wanted to know everything possible about it.”

Once the pandemic actually arrived, the first months would leave a devastating toll. The virus would take her home, her business, and worst of all, three of her grandparents. She stayed in her loved ones’ homes, making ends meet by grooming dogs. “We lost so much at the very beginning. Everything hit us the hardest.”

She desperately needed an outlet, and she found it in education. Though Digruccio never graduated from high school, she’s a passionate learner. She worked hard, got her GED with a 4.0, then quickly moved on to classes at EvCC. What inspired her? Old tales of scientists hunkering down during plagues, and in turn making major discoveries. “I want to do the same thing,” she said.

Another EvCC student, Rory Maxwell, has also learned the importance of maintaining a daily hobby. “The YMCA reopened near my house, so I’ve been using the gym,” he explained. “It’s really helped to improve my mental state.”

Maxwell’s story will be relatable for some. Starting 2020 as a high-school senior, he soon ended up stuck at home, isolated from his friends except for one. His best friend, who he supports as a home care aide.

Their companionship was tested this year, as his friend’s disability made him unable to stand the sight of Maxwell in a mask. “There have been times where he’s tried to take it off my face. It bothers him quite a bit.” So, he chose to make sacrifices, isolating himself further so he could keep the mask off while still remaining safe.

The intense isolation, along with being in mid-transition as a transgender man, has given him plenty of mental anguish. He best remembers his feelings during a lonely Thanksgiving. “It was really draining that day because, in my head, I was thinking ‘Oh, this will never be the same.’”

One would hope Maxwell then found a clear solution to his problems, but like many of us, he’s still trying to find his way. He only started his new gym routine a few days ago. Despite the challenges, he believes things are looking up. “I’m better where I am at the moment”, he admitted.

Even Degruccio, despite her cautious outlook, showed the occasional signs of optimism. However, she finished the interview with a piece of crucial advice:

“Sometimes, we forget that things exist because they don’t happen to us. You can’t just think of others, you have to hold yourself and those you know accountable. Act like every time you go outside, you could give someone COVID, then ask yourself, ‘Is this really worth the risk?’”

If you are struggling with your mental health, know that support is out there. Contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP today.