The Pandemic – A Covid Story
Some parts of our lives seem like a scene straight out of a movie. 2021. A virus is discovered and spreads to become a global pandemic. Millions lost. Economies destroyed. A world in ruins. COVID-19 has taken approximately 2.47 million lives worldwide; the United States has lost half a million people. All of this as the worst kind of anniversary appears and reminds us just where we are and where we’ve come from.
One Year Later.
Let’s reflect on just where our lives were almost a year ago. To do that, we will be producing a series of articles on this “Unimaginable-Versary” and its effects on our lives. We will have more content to produce for this tremendous milestone we all saw in the news, initially the largest increase in unemployment since the Great Depression. Until then, we’d like to tell the stories of people impacted by the pandemic, from neighbors to baristas, business owners to family members. First, though, let me tell you a story.
A Trip To Bring Perspective
My story starts approximately the same month as we saw the unprecedented levels of unemployment make headlines across major media channels, from social media to the evening news, Twitter feeds to Instagram posts. I was taking my usual trip back home to North Carolina for my birthday in March. As a government contractor with the National Institutes of Health, I worked in technical writing and training, but nothing as important as the work federal employees and contractors were doing in labs and clinical settings. As was customary, I scheduled my time off and drove south, now reeling from the news we had been given as well as following protocols outlined by the government agency I supported.
One Last Journey Of Normalcy
I typically had a habit of seeing my parents every other month or so, but I had been so busy I was only traveling at a frequency of about once every three months, sometimes longer. My parents worked and my elderly grandmother was being taken care of by them, so it was I who had to travel to spend time with them. As crazy as it sounds, one might ask why I would potentially expose my parents and grandmother to the virus not knowing if I was an asymptomatic carrier or even worse, a carrier who hadn’t presented symptoms just yet. To answer the question, I had for two weeks prior felt like I was in perfect health with no reason whatsoever to suspect I could be exposed. I stayed at home virtually all the time anyway and had limited to almost negligible exposure to other humans. Remote work helped with that.
I spent my birthday with them, enjoyed the food and the company my parents provided but cut my time in half since I wasn’t sure if the state of Maryland was going to any extreme measure to protect its residents. Paranoia crept in. I could work remotely, I didn’t have my government laptop with me. Best to err on the side of caution. Several hours later, I was back up in Maryland and preparing for what could be the worst event of my life outside of seeing combat in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.
The Shock Of Realization
Fewer cars on the road. A significant decrease in people out and about. There was a huge disparity in how people in Maryland treated the early onset of the pandemic compared to my friends and family down south in North Carolina. People were legitimately afraid of what this could be and what it meant for life as we knew it then.
Was my birthday the last time I would see my parents? Would my grandmother survive? How would my parents survive this?
All of these questions swirled around in my mind. My parents have been through a lot, they’re stubborn, and I know they know how to survive. Yet, the concern was going to linger in my mind. Driving several hours on the road sure gives you a lot of time to think.
The Slow Jolt of New Reality
After returning to work, albeit remotely, I kept up with my regular day job, worked on our jobs app, and followed every bit of news I could get my hands on. More specifically, I followed the weekly report on unemployment numbers published every Thursday. Within the span of two weeks, as a nation, we had already surpassed the Great Recession unemployment numbers. Two close friends had lost their jobs. I knew several others who were classified as “essential workers” and faced constant exposure, stress, and horrible treatment by the companies they worked for.
A nation cried out for help. Confused. Scared. Sad. Angry. Cautious. Businesses shuttered. The economy cratered. Millions of people found themselves without work without any idea of what happened next, and without any possible concept of the severity of what the United States and nations all over the globe were facing. More importantly, no one knew, at that moment, our “normal” was going to be a thing of the past, and our scientists and medical professionals alike couldn’t predict when or if it would end
This is part one of our “Unimaginable-versary” series. Stay tuned for more content that will be published regularly as part of this series.