A view from the metropolitan side of things- Tempe may not be small or rural, but as a member of the slowest state in the region to adopt crisis measures, The Dust checks up on things from their end 

Lane Undhjem | 040320  
︎Tempe, Arizona 

Spring is a weird time to be quarantined in Arizona. To most of us, Spring is the season of pool parties, hiking excursions, park hangs, and camping trips. It’s the season of arts and crafts festivals, bicycle journeys, and dining al fresco. This is why we live here: to reap the benefits of the colorful, fragrant, social springtime. Cue the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s difficult to talk about the attitudes of Arizonans towards coronavirus without explaining how absolutely beautiful the weather is right now. The statewide shuttering of businesses coincided with the blooming of desert flowers and the long-awaited arrival of warm days and cool nights. It’s nearly impossible to convince us to stay inside. Last week, almost 30,000 people claimed unemployment in Arizona and we can’t spend all day watching Netflix when it’s a cool 71 degrees outside.

I do not mean to say that no residents are taking this seriously. They certainly are. Everyone is generally more conscious of space. People are having more terse interactions, if they interact at all. Eye contact seems to hold gravity for the first time in a while. Most shoppers are aware of the tense climate, and mutual respect is higher than average. I say most shoppers because Arizona is still as red as it’s ever been. We don’t have a great track record for respecting authority or being told what to do. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the response of individuals has been to subscribe to partisan talking points. The conversation surrounding economic impact versus public health is alive and well down here, On some level, it is difficult to tell who is informed and who simply does not care.

For my housemates and I, we take it day by day. We are lucky enough to have a pool to swim in and two dogs to wrestle around with. We enjoy eachothers company and have been getting to know one another on a personal level. That seems to be the general attitude in Arizona. Support, support, support. Friends are consistently checking in with each other and providing whatever they can, from encouraging words to meals to Venmo payments. I finally met all my neighbors over the back fence like Wilson from Home Improvement. For now, spirits remain high, but that could change as cases begin to ramp up here in AZ. All we can do is wait and see!

Your friendly unemployed bartender,

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Interested in contributing to The Dust Magazine? Check out our submissions page.

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