Covid-History Item Type Metadata
Scotia, 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?
I first realized that COVID-19 was something that could affect our lives around the end of February. It still seemed like such a distant threat, but by early to mid-March we were worrying and planning. My last in-person trip to the supermarket was in early March, and my sister told me to stock up, buy more shelf stable items and essentials, like toilet paper. By that point, it was already impossible to get toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and hand soap. Seeing empty shelves at all the stores added to a panic that I had never experienced in my lifetime. About a week later, there was a flurry at work as we were trying to close down for maybe a month, possibly longer. We ended up being out of work for about three months. So, my reaction intensified from mild concern into an all-consuming anxiety over the course of the first month.
How is your life different now than it was before the pandemic?
I am immuno-compromised and at high risk, so I have not been doing any of my own shopping. I live by my sister's bimonthly shopping trips and internet shopping. I can't imagine going into a store or restaurant, and I don't know when I would consider going somewhere public for recreation. Unfortunately, I do have to work now, as libraries have been allowed to reopen. Fortunately, I have limited days and hours, and my small staff all wear masks. I greatly fear reopening to the public, and I have not told anyone yet that I am considering quitting my job if that happens sooner than I feel is safe.
How are you feeling? What are you doing to relieve stress?
I am feeling great anxiety. During the height of the lock down, I felt anxiety about the news, about going back to work, and about my sister going out to do our shopping. And I felt hopeless watching the news. Now that I have to go out twice a week, I feel greater anxiety and stress like I have never felt in my life. I've not been very successful at relieving my current stress. When I was still in lock down, I had a to-do list, and I would do a couple small productive things a day and either read or watch something funny for relaxation. I watched a lot of videos made by entertainers (and some regular people) made during their lock downs. There was something comforting about us all going through the same thing.
What have you noticed has changed in your community since the outbreak? What has surprised you?
I live right on the main street in my village, and I was surprised how the traffic never seemed to thin out when we were in the middle of our lock down. In general, I have felt this entire time that people in my county have not been taking the situation seriously. I see a lot of people without masks, and I see large groups of people congregating near my apartment. I'm told there are large groups of people in local parks, too. I'm saddened by this, and it increases my anxiety.
Are you an essential employee? What do you do? What precautions are being taken at your workplace? What precautions are implementing at home?
I do not consider myself an essential employee, however my work is now open again. I work at a branch of the library. The county library system was closed down for three months. Now we are open for curbside pickup. It has been extremely hectic. We think the amount of books coming into the library has been more than we had before the pandemic. The volume of books and the volume of people that must be contacted is incredible. We set up appointments for people to pick up their items. So far we are not open to the public. Everyone at our branch wears a mask. When I talk on the phone, I wear a face shield instead because the mask muffles my voice too much. Supposedly the libraries are being deep cleaned (though I don't know about that). We are quarantining returned items for five days to account for the time the virus might live on surfaces. We have available hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. I'm not sure how our small staff is going to manage when we reopen. We will limit how many patrons can be in the library at any time. This would be only for browsing and checking out materials. We have had some regular patrons who are refusing to wear masks, and I'm concerned that we won't be able to enforce that rule. I don't know what sort of disinfecting needs to be done, but with my asthma, I'm not sure how much I can help with that. There is a huge push to reopen the libraries, but, in the best of times, people don't know how to stay home when they are sick. I'm not sure how a staff of three can keep tabs on all of these things and do our regular jobs without getting sick ourselves. Anxiety!
Are you an employee who has been laid off or furloughed? Were you able to get unemployment? Were you able to retain your health insurance?
I was furloughed for three months with pay. I did not apply for unemployment. Other people need it more than I do. I don't have health insurance through work.
Did you have to postpone any major life events? (e.g. Graduation, wedding, major birthday) What did you do instead?
My birthday was right as this was beginning, and there was definitely a feeling of doom over the whole thing, but, in general, no.
What positive things did you contribute to or notice take place?
I donated money to several charities during the time, and I've been sending essential health and medical supplies to my handicapped aunt in Pennsylvania every month. But that's nothing. I am in awe of the kindness and caring of so many people during this time.
Did you or someone you know contract COVID-19? What was it like?
Luckily, no one really close to has contracted it. My cousin's cousin (not related to me), a healthy 30 year-old man, contracted it and died in May. That was a shock to the whole family. I've known two people in their twenties who contracted it (potentially during spring breaks), but they both seem to have recovered. I know a local couple in their early sixties who had it in mid-March. While they didn't go into great detail, they did say it was the worst they ever felt. Both managed to get through it without hospitalization. In May, they attempted to donate their blood plasma but tested positive again. I don't know if they were reinfected or if the virus had been there the whole time.
What do you wish you knew before the pandemic began?
I wish I would have stocked up on some things like toilet paper while it was still available. I wish that I hadn't wasted money on some of the medications and supplies (like masks with valves) that I bought before we knew as much as we do know about the virus.
What would you want future generations to know about the 2020 pandemic? How would you recommend they prepare for it?
Trust science and scientists, health care workers, and people who have the general public's best interest at heart. Do not trust anyone who is looking to make money, increase their prestige and power, or is willing to overlook facts to make their country/state/county look better than it is. Staying physically away from other people is essential. Is it worth jeopardizing everyone's health just to have a few moments of fun? Wearing a mask is the smallest kindness that you can do for another person.
How do you think this pandemic will change how we behave going forward? What will the “new normal” look like?
I think it will change some people's lives considerably, and I think it has not changed other's very much at all. I think it depends on how concerned you are about the virus. It's definitely changed how I behave, especially in public. But, we have short memories, and people are trying to forget it, even as it is still going on.
Southern Adirondack Library System
Southern Adirondack Library System
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
“Maria,” Leaving Our Fingerprints on History, accessed January 21, 2022, https://fingerprints.sals.edu/omeka/items/show/203.