What A Year

What A Year
Covid virus image on red backgroundFriday, March 13th, 2020: President Trump declares a national emergency due to the Coronavirus outbreak; 2,100 people have been diagnosed.

It is difficult to think back to March 13th, 2020; at the time, one had little reason to believe that it would be a day more significant than the last. Now, it is impossible to look forward without remembering what that day brought.

Initially, there was relief-- who doesn’t want two weeks without school? But then fear appeared. Not necessarily fear of the virus, but the unknown. How long will it last? Who will catch it? What do you do if you catch it? Can you die from it? People around the world asked these questions but received less-than-reassuring responses. Then scared people did what scared people do: panic and make irrational decisions. Store shelves were suddenly bare; toilet paper was worth hoarding; weapons and ammunition stores were packed with new buyers; children were at home, for the first time not believing their parents when they were told: “there is nothing to be afraid of”. We’ve waited for the nightmare to end, but a year later, we are still groggily stumbling out of bed.

At first, the world paused. People who were used to having the world revolve around them now had to adjust their lives to revolve around Covid and its restrictions. Overnight, the phrase “We are in this together” appeared in commercials, on billboards, written in chalk on sidewalks, and on posters in windows. I interpreted the phrase not as we will help each other through this, but as life sucks for everyone now, you’re not alone. Either way, the message was effective; the unexpected circumstances created unexpected unity. For a short time, the most important problems were not our own, so there was time to recognize the struggles of others.

We were not cut off from the outside world, but at times it felt that way. Every day was a variation of the last, with nothing new to offer. As weeks passed, people realized that Covid could not be trifled with, and it would be around for a while. This caused many to take an introspective look at themselves and ask, “What can I do now that I couldn’t do before?”
While at home, people explored new hobbies including cooking, reading, and exercising. Restaurants were closed which forced more and more people to cook at home, and these were not just fast, easy meals. People reinvented their favorite comfort foods and experimented with food trends like homemade sourdough bread, whipped coffee, banana bread, and bagels. Cooking did not seem like a waste of time when we had an abundance of it.

After we had binged new shows like Tiger King and Outer Banks, we resorted to rewatching our favorites like New Girl, The Office, and Stranger Things. However, television could only entertain us for so long, eventually, people were reading for pleasure. According to Global English Editing, 35% of people who rarely, or never read, were picking up books to escape from the neverending newsfeed of Covid “updates”. While people could not physically travel, they were able to transplant themselves to worlds without the Coronavirus.

Many people felt lethargic after staying inside all day and looked for safe ways to improve their physical health. Sixty-four percent of people found innovative ways to continue their exercise routines after gyms were closed. Outdoor runs and fitness apps quickly became popular as people searched for solutions to cure their inactivity. When all new hobbies had been exhausted, people resorted to housework and cleaning projects.

Since many people were home from work and school, family-time was now all the time. Daily walks and Tik Toks were outlets for family members to spend time together and reconnect. As we grow older, the time we set aside for our parents shortens; Covid set aside family time without asking if there was something else we’d rather do. Zero social obligations forced families to adapt to life with everyone simultaneously under the same roof. For families involved in many extracurricular activities, the break from them was a breath of fresh air. The cancellation of sports, concerts, and other social activities was upsetting; however, instead of mourning the season or event lost, remember the movie nights, family walks and improvement projects that would have never happened otherwise.

As of March 23, 2021, almost 25% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine. A year ago, we were still planning on returning to school in April; since then, we have evolved not only as individuals but as a society. We learned to rely on ourselves for entertainment, and rely on others to follow guidelines to promote public safety. We gained independence as individuals, but also a healthy dependence on our families, friends, and neighbors. We took the phrase “We are in this together” and actively cared for one another’s wellbeing. We supported essential employees, who continued to work despite their fears, and nonessential employees, who were unsure of when they would receive their next paycheck. It may feel as though we are sometimes at a standstill with Covid, but we have, and will continue to move forward; March 13 was the end of the world as we knew it, but it was also the day we realized how much we had and how much we could lose.

By: Addie Hedges