• Rachel Anne Baer

A Brief Review of the Last Year

#pandemic #covid19 #notoiletpaper #vaccine #hope #newpresident

Today’s date is Tuesday the 19th January 2021, it is exactly one year ago today that the first person in the United states was hospitalized due to the Covid 19 virus. They were fortunate to make a complete recovery.

Meanwhile there are to date almost 400,000 other citizens of our country who were not so fortunate & did not make it out of the hospitals alive. Thousands more are living with long term effects of the virus, some of which the medical care is in its early stages.

It was still several weeks before this virus’s effects were realized & it was taken seriously enough to shut down not just most of this country but every country in the world. I can’t remember ever seeing the streets of New York & other major cities around the world so eerily quiet. Even our small neighborhood, which I have never thought of as a busy place was suddenly silent. Only a rare car or delivery van could be seen driving around in the early days of the pandemic back in March & April of 2020.

I remember thinking how long two weeks of lock down seemed, two weeks of not going into work, of not seeing my yogis & friends, looking back it seems laughable that we could really imagine that a major pandemic could possibly pass us by in such a short space of time.

The quarantine recommendations were extended, another month, then another, seeming to endlessly stretch ahead of us. When would life go back to “normal” whatever that really was? I am not sure quite what our new normal” will look like, it still seems a way ahead although there is now light at the end of the tunnel.

March & the lockdown brought with it much panic buying, hoarding of food & other essential grocery items. Toilet & kitchen rolls, tissues, Lysol wipes, floor cleaners & other cleaning items were suddenly nowhere to be found. I have toilet rolls on a subscribe & save monthly delivery from Amazon, just so we never run out……however my well laid plans went awry, even the giant Amazon could not get hold of its regular items, that is unless you were prepared to pay ridiculous prices. I remember thinking that people all around the world must be spending all their time cleaning & have sparkling both homes & bums.

I remember at the beginning of all this, the second week of March & before mask wearing was mandatory in all stores. I was behind a man in BJ’s with his arms full of an enormous packet of toilet paper, two sacks of coffee & some chocolate. As our eyes met, we laughed as I had exactly the same in my cart with the addition of some veggies. “At least we are well stocked on the essentials” I commented. We wished each other well as we left the store, a strange & welcome solidarity among strangers.

Some other items that were/still are in short supply were hand sanitizer, (awful stuff that dries out the skin & is proven to not actually be that effective) & liquid soap. We switched to using bars of soap at our bathroom sink, placing it in a saucer where it sat in a puddle of water going squishy until someone (usually me) would clean it out. My son aged 25 commented how messy it was & he had obviously forgotten that this was the only soap we knew when he was a child. It’s funny the things you take for granted & forget that they have not actually been around for that long.

Bananas were hard to find for weeks, a staple food these days when years ago they would be a luxury & a rarely bought item during my childhood.

All varieties of meat & frozen vegetables were hard to find, the shelves in the supermarkets were bare! I am not sure where people were storing all of this food or how they could possibly be eating so much but people do indeed react in strange ways when they are anxious & afraid.

On a subsequent trip to BJ’s a few weeks later I overheard a couple saying that they didn’t know why they were here as the freezer was jam packed. Frustrating to hear when you see the record lines at the food banks around the country. Things were spiraling out of control with job losses, homelessness & hunger not just around the country but around the world.

As with all major life events we see the worst side of people, however, there have been many incredible stories of hope, sacrifice, generosity & kindness throughout this pandemic & I choose to believe this will continue.

Thank goodness for technology which has kept thousands in their jobs & enabled them to work from home, including teachers & school children, this has probably changed the face of our workforce forever, proving that a large part of the country can do their jobs just as well from their own front rooms. Keeping in touch has never been easier for those with devices such as tablets, iPhone & laptops, we are just a click or two away from family get togethers, photo sharing & no longer need to leave our cozy living rooms & couches to take part in book groups, town meetings & other discussions. Zoom happy hour became a regular for many early on a Friday evening. Exercise classes of all types are now available to anyone with internet access at any time of the day or night. I myself have become a huge fan.

Funerals, weddings, birthday parties all were done at the end of driveways or via Zoom, we can be incredibly inventive as humans when we need to be. Restaurants quickly adapting to take out meals only and/or limited outside dining options. Sadly, far too many cafes & restaurants across the country have already closed on a permanent basis.

On Jan 6th, 2021 there was an attack, an attempted coup on the Capitol building which had not been seen since the civil war. It was scary to watch, almost surreal as if watching a bad war movie from a third world country. I am sure that as American’s it is one of those moments in history that we will always remember where we were when we heard the news.

It was not totally unexpected given the rhetoric & tension created by the soon to be ex-president. Let us hope that the consequences for these unforgivable actions will be swift & severe.

So here we are on the eve of a new Presidency, hope for the future, without the hatred & divisiveness that has overshadowed the country for the past four years. These are challenging times ahead; my hope is that there can be some repairing of relationships as we see each other for the human beings we are & not as “us” & “them”. There are some people & opinions however that will never change & that kind of violence cannot be tolerated.

There is hope on the virus front, with several vaccines already being distributed around the world. Hope first for the medical staff & first responders followed by the senior population & other essential workers who have done their job so well despite all the incredible difficulties.

I am proud of & in admiration of all the worker bees who went over & above, went without sleep & endured many late nights in production of a safe & effective vaccine.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings as I wonder how far down the road to our new “normal” we will be in a few months’ time.

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