First anniversary marks dramatic change of lifestyle

The food line outside the Grace Food Pantry on Church Street one year ago. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso)


One year ago, the world changed overnight for most Americans.

About this time last March, former President Donald Trump announced to the nation that the pandemic wouldn’t amount to anything and that we had it under control.

Mayor Carlo DeMaria shut down the city and went to Aruba for a vacation.

The public schools closed. They are scheduled to reopen on April 5 after a year has passed.

One year later, and our world has been turned upside down.

Whether or not you believe the virus was deadly, we have endured a historic year, a year of loss and serious self-examination, a year of staying to ourselves and our families; a year apart from our families and loved ones; a year without movement as we have always known it.

One year ago, this week, six Americans had died of COVID-19.

We are now 530,000 deaths into the count from those who succumbed to the ravages of the COVID-19 virus – more per capita deaths than anywhere in the world during the past twelve months.

Tens of millions of Americans have been infected and many millions of those have recovered. Millions more carry signs of the battle they went through – and many millions more still believe the virus is a hoax of some kind and that we went way overboard in dealing with it.

Never, in its history, has our nation’s economy and health and well-being being thrown into more perilous standing than during the past year.

Three stimuli’s later, the economy is now beginning to recover, although unemployment remains very high and millions have been chopped from the nation’s workforce very likely never to return.

There was no vaccine one year ago.

Today, the nation is being vaccinated rapidly.

One year ago, the economy was booming. We enjoyed ourselves at sporting events, graduations, large meetings of every kind including business conventions, weddings, and funerals.

Plane travel was off the charts. Tourism was rising with every succeeding month.

Then the pandemic arrived.

Our reaction to it turned our world upside down.

The past twelve months we have witnessed the temporary end of international travel. Tourism has closed down around the world.

Europe remains locked down, especially in France and Italy where the virus has come back a third time.

We have gone from carefree come what may every day, to a nation worried about a virus that could kill us.

Much of the nation is today wear- ing masks as we continue the good fight to defeat the virus.

MARCH 20: Patrons line up at the Grace Food Pantry Everett on Church Street. (Photo by Jim Mahoney)

One year down the line, many people in positions of responsibility deny the need to wear masks and flaunt anti-science beliefs as though the virus doesn’t exist.

Many of us are left to wonder – what is the right thing to do and what is the wrong thing to do?

The nation grew more divided than ever before during the past twelve months.

We are left to wonder, does anyone really care, or is keeping the divisions more important than coming together?

The virus has proven there is an equity chasm between the haves and the have nots in our community.

The poorest among us, the Blacks and browns and the Hispanics – they got the sickest. If you don’t believe that, feast your eyes upon the long lines of those in our community waiting patiently for free food to feed their families from week to week. When have we seen this since the Great Depression?

One year since the shutdown, many of us have altered our lives. We don’t go out as much. Some of us don’t go out at all. Restaurants remain half empty. Theaters are half empty. Airplanes are half empty. Casinos and hotels are half empty. Downtown office buildings are more than half empty and thousands of small restaurants and businesses located around them have either gone out of business or are struggling to stay alive.

Sporting events have gone on without crowds for the past year. Will the crowds come back? Who among us with common sense will want to be inside a stadium with 60,000 people breathing down on one another?

Who wants to go back to skyscraper office buildings where you can’t open the windows and you are entering the elevators with thou- sands of people in confined spaces? Working at home has caused a revolution in how the national work- force functions.

Many millions working at home do not want to return to yesterday.

The new normal is forming now before our eyes.

Society is trying to normalize.

The vaccination of the nation should help that – but our confidence in the nation’s general good health and well-being has been pummeled. Our national politics lacks a common ground.

As a people, we are kind of float- ing around on a pre-post virus bit of good feeling.

The mobs without masks in Miami during spring break are a stark reminder to us all that we might just be doomed.

On the other hand, maybe we’ve paid too much attention to the virus, and the virus at its worst couldn’t take down the nation.

One year later, we watch, and we wonder.

Some of us remain hesitant and careful.

Many others don’t care at all.

One year after the close-down, we remain largely closed down but appear to be coming back.

Only time will tell if we have done the right – that’s all of us.

What a difference a year makes!

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