Covid-History Item Type Metadata
Halfmoon, 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?
In November-December 2019, the Wuhan COVID-19 outbreak was being reported. By January 2020, the Chinese strain of the disease was affecting South Korea, Italy and the West Coast of the US. The East Coast, particularly New York and New Jersey, began to feel the impact of the European coronavirus strain In February. If anyone doubted by mid-March that we didn't have a global pandemic, they weren't paying attention. My own reaction had changed by late January or early February as I realized how serious the crisis would be.
How is your life different now than it was before the pandemic?
I am a choral singer, and my partner and I are tennis players and ballroom dancers. We also like to travel both in the US and overseas, and we are used to going out weekly to dinner or to hear music. All that has been put on hold since March. We have four children and five grandchildren between us; and until June, we hadn't been able to see them.
How are you feeling? What are you doing to relieve stress?
At times, I've been cranky and occasionally have been depressed. I've had "cabin fever" from not being able to get out - particularly until the weather turned warmer in May. My partner and I have gotten by with rental movies, takeout dinners, reading and 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles (wine consumption has also been up!). With warmer weather, we added meeting friends - outdoors and distanced - and taking walks.
What have you noticed has changed in your community since the outbreak? What has surprised you?
My extended community in Upstate New York has largely followed state safety guidelines. People locally were initially scared and suspicious, but have become polite and thoughtful over time. What has surprised me is how many people outside our region are selfish and inconsiderate of the safety of others, and have failed to see what measures have worked in states with strong governors in bringing rates of infections and deaths down.
Are you a business owner who has had to close? If you are still open, how have you had to adjust how your business operates?
Are you an essential employee? What do you do? What precautions are being taken at your workplace? What precautions are implementing at home?
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 am a retired New York State employee. I'm fortunate that my retirement benefits and medical coverage have continued uninterrupted.
Are you working from home? What adjustments or challenges are you experiencing?
My volunteer work since retirement has been in community education, specifically as a Board President of our local two-towns public library and vice president of our regional library system. All board and committee meetings, budget and long-range planning sessions, etc. have had to be virtual.
Do you have children at home? How’s it going?
If you’re a student, was school canceled? Were you able to complete your studies online? Do you think you’ll be back on campus in the fall?
Did you have to postpone any major life events? (e.g. Graduation, wedding, major birthday) What did you do instead?
I was on the planning committee for my 50th college reunion in May, which was cancelled along with graduation (we held a virtual reunion, with Zoom program sessions, over four weekends, and we published a 300-page 50th anniversary book instead).
Do you have animals? Did you adopt a pet? How have they impacted your day?
What positive things did you contribute to or notice take place?
Libraries in the Northeast, along with schools and colleges, closed in late March and early April. The boards of our local library and regional library association were involved in the closings, developing safety and reopening plans, and the staged openings themselves (which are currently still in progress). This process is described in more detail under Item #27-28.
Did you or someone you know contract COVID-19? What was it like?
If you lost someone during the pandemic, how did you celebrate their lives?
We've had a few deaths since the start of the year; all the memorial services have been postponed until 2021.
What do you wish you knew before the pandemic began?
Why emergency stockpiles had fallen so low, and why public health expertise had been deemphasized by some politicians.
What would you want future generations to know about the 2020 pandemic? How would you recommend they prepare for it?
It's not a mystery. The public health professionals had taken their 40-year experience with AIDS, Ebola, SARS and MIRS and had developed clear protocols, which have been largely ignored in much of the United States. 1. Each political jurisdiction should have a single spokesperson. 2. That person should be guided by the counsel of career public health and medical professionals. 3. The message should be factual and truthful. 4. The message should err on the pessimistic side to encourage citizen awareness and compliance, rather than worrying about panic. 5. Adequate emergency supplies should be stockpiled, with plans to retool industries to quickly replenish them.
How do you think this pandemic will change how we behave going forward? What will the “new normal” look like?
Business and convention travel will be down, and more videoconferencing will be utilized. More people will be working fully or partially from home; and office rental income will fall, particularly in central cities, which will also affect urban restaurants and small businesses. People will be more careful when and where they travel. There will probably be more un- and under-employment, with corresponding pressure for both income subsidies and new job creation. The political divide over whether or not to trust science will continue.
Southern Adirondack Library System
Southern Adirondack Library System
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
“Russell,” Leaving Our Fingerprints on History, accessed January 21, 2022, https://fingerprints.sals.edu/omeka/items/show/235.