Covid-History Item Type Metadata
Shushan, New York
When did the impact of COVID-19 first occur to you? How did your reaction to COVID-19 change between then and the first case in your town?
When my employer sent a coronavirus plan to “all users” in early March. I know of no one in my hamlet who has caught the virus but when NYS numbers of victims soared I felt much more serious about the outcome.
How is your life different now than it was before the pandemic?
Vastly different. Before the pandemic I worked as a public reference librarian with people in and out of the doors constantly, daily. After the library closed we were sent home to work in silence, with a computer as a co-worker. I have had to adjust to a vastly different, ever-changing task list. No commuting. Little actual face-to-face contact. Even though virtual reference phones were set up and manned remotely there were none of the usual readers advisory questions, no in-person groups, no helping folks fill out job applications online, no lending a sympathetic ear to people with issues. My life has become much more impersonal. Regarding my life outside of work there are no longer groups to which I belonged, the church in our hamlet shut its doors on March 15, grocery shopping has become an ordeal with rules, empty shelves, fear of contagion. My iPad and smartphone and work Chromebook have become more useful than ever. My friends and I wonder how we could manage with no Internet connection. We think we might lose our wits if we were unable to text, message, email, Zoom with our friends and relatives. There has been a certain amount of disregard for personal hygiene and clothing style, lack of exercise, overindulgence in sweets and neglect of basic health care. On the other hand my gardens have never been so well tended and my pets so pampered. There has been more attention to cooking and baking and house cleaning.
How are you feeling? What are you doing to relieve stress?
I’m feeling isolated yet have become more relaxed, being the introvert type. There is less stress at home but then again more, in some ways. I do yoga and have indulged in too many sweets. And due to being home I have been able to plant a vegetable and flower garden. Gardening is very “Zen”.
What have you noticed has changed in your community since the outbreak? What has surprised you?
The large number of people shopping in our small community store is a surprise. In reaction the store has become much better stocked due to demand. I have also been surprised by the number of out-of-state license plates on cars parked by the store, and how many shoppers do not wear masks.
Are you working from home? What adjustments or challenges are you experiencing?
Yes, I have been working from home. The first two weeks of this, from March 15 on, were very stressful. The library administration was trying to manage us, to make plans for reopening, communicate with the public and learning to create and deliver “virtual content” for our patrons. None of us had a clear view of the whats , hows and whens of working at home. I felt rather frantic and confused. After a few weeks a work schedule formed in my brain. I was able to resume some semblance of my usual duties. My paychecks continued to be deposited and in response I worked hard and perhaps overworked at home. There sat the Chromebook. I could not hop in my car and go home after a long day at the library. Instead the device beckoned morning, noon and night. On weekends I had to wrap it up and put it out of sight.
Do you have children at home? How’s it going?
Did you have to postpone any major life events? (e.g. Graduation, wedding, major birthday) What did you do instead?
No, but I planned my retirement date. I realized, by working from home for three months, retirement was doable, that I would not fade out by not working at the library. Furthermore, it is obvious that my traditional and beloved job would not resume any time soon, and when the library reopened for patrons I would be at risk of contracting Covid-19.
Do you have animals? Did you adopt a pet? How have they impacted your day?
Yes, three cats. At first they were very excited to have company all day. They took part in Meet and Zoom meetings and had to be shut out of the work area. They were most amusing and comforting. They and I have gained weight.
What positive things did you contribute to or notice take place?
I was determined to continue my popular adult library programs, online now. In April I contacted patrons to work on resuming book discussions and other programs. Patrons were so happy to see other and to talk. I contributed money to the food pantry. Another good outcome has been the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. In a way the pandemic has contributed to a greater awareness of the African American population and its needs.
What do you wish you knew before the pandemic began?
I wish I knew how poorly prepared the U.S. government was for a pandemic crisis. I would have pressured my representatives to provide better funds and leadership for public health agencies.
What would you want future generations to know about the 2020 pandemic? How would you recommend they prepare for it?
I’d like people in the future to understand that pandemics and epidemics are not political. They are a natural occurrence that needs all hands on deck working together for the best outcome. I’d like history texts to explain how the pandemic has been mishandled by the current federal administration and how proponents of the current administration contributed to the spread of the virus and unnecessary deaths; that the U.S. has by far the greatest number of covid-19 cases and deaths of any nation on earth when it supposedly is a modern leader in so many ways. Let our experience be a lesson learned. Public health workers and organizations need much more support now and in the future. There needs to be more funding and enthusiasm for scientific research.
How do you think this pandemic will change how we behave going forward? What will the “new normal” look like?
If after two or so years this pandemic wears itself out, I believe the public will resume its usual social behavior as evidenced by this happening after just three months into the pandemic. While the number of cases is higher than ever and climbing daily Americans and probably other nationalities are eager to socialize in a way to which they are accustomed: frequenting bars and restaurants and gathering in large groups at parties and beaches. It is possible though that public education will be forever changed due to alterations made during this pandemic because there has been talk of distance learning for economy and other reasons for years and years. Now distance learning and other changes have been forced upon us and might very well stick. There will need to be efforts and funding put forth to rid disparities in order for all children to be included in this new mode of education. As it is now countless young people are without Internet connections and eDevices, two essentials for this new form of education.
Is there anything else you would like to add that hasn't already been asked above?
It is imperative that the health and social supports systems in the U.S. undergo overhauls. Low income people have suffered the most, as always. I'm hoping that this crisis has heightened awareness of the vulnerability of life on earth and that going forward we may all become more serious in doing all we can to preserve it.
Southern Adirondack Library System
Southern Adirondack Library System
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
“Jennifer,” Leaving Our Fingerprints on History, accessed August 10, 2022, https://fingerprints.sals.edu/omeka/items/show/144.