Covid-History Item Type Metadata
Easton, 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?
During a 2 month February and March "snow bird" stay in Florida we saw news broadcasts of severely ill people. In early March, the stores had shortages of everything. We were in a "spring break area" which normally causes high shopping traffic and some markets experience some slight problems with stock. But the covid food hording coupled with the extra vacation population in the area was like a perfect storm of item depletion. I found it a bit concerning to be unable to find toilet paper, Clorox wipes and paper products. But the real fear set in the day there was no meat (except chicken feet) and no fresh vegetables in the supermarkets. The canned food was also depleted. This was scary! Back in NY, I knew we had a freezer of food and some canned goods in our cabinets but in Florida we had no supplies. The impact was also startling as the beaches were closed, the pools at the resort blocked off and the restaurants closed. We were in a huge resort and by the end of March there was only 5% of the guests left. That made it very easy to social distance as we walked on the nature trails, boardwalks, and wharf. However, it was eerie because it was so deserted. In mid March we could not decide if we should drive back to NY or stay until our reservations ended. We were watching our 10 year old granddaughter on her spring break as her parents worked. NY was reporting higher infection numbers than Florida. NY was the hot spot in the country. Governors along the coast were closing public rest stops. Restaurants, hotels and stores were closed. Would anything be safe along the trip that may be open ? How would we make a 3 day drive? We decide that everything was too confusing and no one knew what was best to do. We hoped by the end of March it would be better. Our NY friends told us that there was no problem in our rural community and the problem was in NYC. Then we read in the news that a preschool teacher who lived a mile from our rural NY home had Covid 19. We were now sure that the assurance we had been given was not valid. We drove home at the end of March. The roads were deserted, large highways had no traffic and looked like a science fiction movie of the end of the world. I packed 3 days of food that we could eat in the motels and in the car. Our usual bathroom breaks at restaurants were impossible as they were all closed. We stopped at Dollar Stores, Walmart and rest stops on the highway where they were open. Quickly in and out, wearing our masks and using our hand sanitizer as soon as we got back in the car. The drive home was nerve wracking.
How is your life different now than it was before the pandemic?
Life is extremely different for us. We see very few people and rarely go into public places. When we returned home from Florida at the end of March we totally quarantined. We continued to stay isolated for months. Our son did our grocery shopping throughout April, May and part of June. He left the groceries in his carport and we picked them up. In June, he returned to work and we began to grocery shop once a week. Before Covid 19, we were used to shopping multiple times during the week and going to the mall or shopping centers. As NY moved into other phases and opened stores, we still did not go into public places. More recently we have been to a few stores but very infrequently and very briefly. Socially -- well, we are not really socializing. Before the pandemic we met with friends once a week to play cards. We have not seen them since January. We do not have book club, women's club nor in person community meetings. Sadly an older close friend lives in a senior center and due to restrictions we have not seen him since January. This is a drastic change as we used to see him multiple times a week. He is now declining and in a nursing home and we have not been able to visit him. Luckily, we have started to visit my son, his wife and our baby granddaughter about twice a month. I imagine that in normal times we would be interacting much more with her and she would know us and be comfortable with us. She was so isolated during her first year of life, with only her parents as human contact, that she looks at people as alien beings. Life has been very different for us.
How are you feeling? What are you doing to relieve stress?
Since I am writing in October, feelings have changed drastically and frequently over the past 10 months. The emotional roller coaster seems to be dependent upon the news stories and what we are doing each day. Sometime, I feel extreme fear of dying a terrible painful death. Other times when the news and infection rate is better, I feel hopeful that we will be fine and life will return to normal. Currently , the number of cases is rising again and more so in the rural areas. I am so weary of the restrictions and feel as if a year of our life has passed without the chance to live it as we would like. I am surprised that I am thinking about a missed year of life. I am sure that would not have been the way I thought about it when I was younger. Then, I would have just said, oh well, we can do that next year. I also realize that I view events differently. This weekend was a trunk or treat event at the fairgrounds. As we passed, we saw hundreds of cars parked and happy little kids and parents walking around in costume. Usually, it would have given me joy to see so much fun and Halloween action. This time, I was horrified and though, oh no, a super spreader event right in our town! My attitude has changed. Relieving stress has not been easy. The most helpful strategy has been to limit watching frequent new reports. I still check the rates in the area but try to limit focus on it. We both are enjoying reading tremendous amounts of books. Thank goodness the library opened for book pick up. We also walk in local, state and national parks about 3 times a week. During the cooler spring months we played board games and cards together.
What have you noticed has changed in your community since the outbreak? What has surprised you?
People in our community and the larger area have always been very friendly. We used to chat to strangers we met shopping or walking in parks. Everyone smiled and nodded or said a friendly word. With masks and the initial fear of anyone being contagious, people made wide berths around each other and didn't speak as they passed on a nature trail or in the supermarket. We did the same thing and were happy that everyone was being careful. It just seemed so odd and unfriendly. Now in October, it seems that people are more relaxed and will more frequently nod and say hello. Now the problem is not recognizing people with masks. In a small community there are many people you know on sight, but who are not your close friends. The masks have changed the number of people who great each other because they are not recognized.
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?
I am a trustee of a small rural library. We had to close and then partially reopen with restrictions. This has made a big impact on our community. The library is the hub of the town, an unofficial gathering place where neighbors see each other. We also offer internet service to the community, and many of our patrons come to library to use the computer or internet service. We have not been able to open for patrons to use this service. We have adjusted other services to meet health considerations and only offer book pick up. We are not offering browsing. We have many fewer patrons using the library.
Are you working from home? What adjustments or challenges are you experiencing?
This month, I started working from home at a part time job I had previously done in an office. The job entails working with a team and I had to learn how to use my tablet with google teams. I also need to use my desk top at the same time for another program. It was difficult as I am not very technically advance, but it worked out better than I imagined. It felt great to contribute again and have something to focus on rather than covid 19. However, I miss the social aspect of seeing people in person and chatting.
Did you have to postpone any major life events? (e.g. Graduation, wedding, major birthday) What did you do instead?
My 70th birthday was celebrated with a cake I made myself at home and just my husband and I were there. Numerous friends' birthdays were celebrated with just a card or phone call rather than dinner out together.
Do you have animals? Did you adopt a pet? How have they impacted your day?
My cat seems to want to spend much more time on my lap.
What positive things did you contribute to or notice take place?
I noticed that my husband and I exhibited more patience with each other. We tried to make the most of the situation. My son volunteered to get our groceries so we could avoid public places. I had 4 people make and send me masks when they knew I need them!
What do you wish you knew before the pandemic began?
I wish we knew how long it would last and how Covid 19 is so deadly. I wish the nation was prepared to take protective measures and everyone was in agreement on the necessary steps to keep people safe and at the same time lessen the negative effect on the economy. If people could only be forewarned they could prepare in an organized and systematic way.
What would you want future generations to know about the 2020 pandemic? How would you recommend they prepare for it?
They need to be aware that it will happen again. We were too complacent and comfortable with thinking our health care was advanced enough to prevent such a thing from happening here. Unless more is learned about Covid 19, it is obvious that the same measures were used 100 years ago; masks, isolation, social distancing, staying outdoors. So, for the next pandemic will the same measures be needed? I am still amazed that in 100 years since the last pandemic, we are still using the same tools to fight the disease. So, they need to be aware of the possibility and be ready to accept an emergency plan.
How do you think this pandemic will change how we behave going forward? What will the “new normal” look like?
The immediate future will change. I believe many people will be more aware of how easy it is to spread illness. And for awhile public places will continue to keep safeguards in place. However, over time, when a vaccine become available and treatments are discovered, people will forget and fall back to the old normal behavior. However, due to the economic instability we are facing, the new normal may be vastly different with fewer businesses, restaurants, entertainment areas. Will more people live in poverty due to lost savings and jobs? I believe the economic long term effect may last a long time.
Southern Adirondack Library System
Southern Adirondack Library System
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
“Linda,” Leaving Our Fingerprints on History, accessed August 8, 2022, https://fingerprints.sals.edu/omeka/items/show/258.