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Dover-area folks react to coronavirus

Andre Lamar * Delaware
andre.lamar@doverpost.com
Dover Post

Hailey Ruszala wasn’t aiming to make a fashion statement when she left her home in lime shorts, an orange T-shirt and a pair of thick mittens this week.

The 13-year-old said she didn’t want her bare hands to touch the tire swing she was playing on Tuesday, at Brecknock County Park. She was worried about catching coronavirus.

While her fellow teens have been of out school this past week, Hailey said it hasn’t had much of an effect on her because she’s homeschooled. The biggest problem has been the effect it's had on one of her hobbies.

“I’m on Delaware Swim Team in Newark, so the swim meets have been canceled; and I don’t know how much longer that the practices will be held,” the Dover teen said.

Chris Ruszala, Hailey’s dad, said food shopping is the main way the coronavirus has impacted him.

“The grocery stores have been crazy. Things are wiped out. Nothing’s there and lines are ridiculous,” he said.

But his wife, Tina Ruszala, said they don’t need to worry about toilet paper. “We have a bidet, so if we run out, we’re okay,” she said with a laugh.

Mi’Kyra Neal, 17, is a senior at Polytech High School who’s spent the past week out of school. She’s filled her time off by working, playing lacrosse and watching Netflix.

Neal works as a surgical tech at an oral surgeon’s office in Dover, and she said she has to be extra careful at work.

“You have to be cautious in the first place. But with corona going around, you have to be even more cautious,” said Neal, of Camden.

“It’s remembering to wash your hands more and wearing your mask at all times, which is kinda hard because, at this same time, there’s a shortage of masks,” she added. “So you really have to be careful about what you’re doing.”

Fellow senior and Panther Aaron Cross, 18, is a lacrosse player who said he’s bummed about the outlook for this season because it’s “probably going to get canceled, which really sucks.”

He’s heard a rumor seniors might have to stay in school a little longer to make up the time they’re missing now. Polytech students are due back to school March 30.

Celly Mercedes, a senior at Caesar Rodney High School, has different concerns about graduation.

“If I get my diploma [mailed] from the school, I’m going to be mad,” the 17-year-old said. “There’s talk that we can’t have big crowds; and graduation is right around the corner. If we don’t get to walk, I think it’ll be a big disappointment. As seniors, we didn’t come 12 years for a possibility to not walk.”

Her little sister, Alexa Mercedes, 13, said it’s been hard to have fun lately.

“I’m not even going to lie, it gets boring,” she said. “Everything’s closed, so there’s nothing to do, even though school is closed.”

Charlyze Black, a friend of the Mercedes sisters, said she’s not worried about the virus, since she doesn’t personally know anyone around her who has it. At this point, she views it the same as the common flu, she added.

Black said she’s heard rumors if she and her peers return to school at the end of the month, spring break will get canceled. That’s something she wouldn’t be excited about.

Ashlyn Calvello, a junior at Lake Forest High School, echoed earlier sentiments and said she doesn’t want to stay in school longer this year. Meanwhile, she’s spent this health break by working and hanging out with her dog, Bear, and her friends: the Mercedes sisters and Black.

As of March 20, there have been 40 total laboratory-confirmed COVID cases in the state since March 11, with 28 are from New Castle County, five are from Kent County and seven are from Sussex County.  

CR senior Mercedes thinks the coronavirus is overblown. “I think people just believe the hype and media too much,” she said.

Dover resident Tina Ruszala said there’s a silver lining.

“Kids are out of school and the families are coming closer together, so that’s kind of a blessing,” Ruszala said. “It’s all about how you look at this thing.

“You never know if this is a wake-up call for people to come together, or to divide, to see what’s really important in your life,” she added.