It is weird living during the COVID-19 pandemic. As I write this we are beginning September of 2020, about 7 months since COVID started effecting the USA. Because life is so unusual right now I thought it would be valuable to gather and record a few different people's observations, for future generations.
"I wonder what it was like going through the COVID-19 pandemic?" Well here is what it was like for the people who responded to my Facebook questions. I modified phrasing and formatting slightly to promote clarity and I've divided it up between the main themes I saw.
Weddings have completely shifted. I personally think this was a good one because weddings became ridiculous (I am guilty of having 2 daughters and hosting the big weddings). Weddings became so expensive and so much pressure to host the 'big party.'
Prior to the pandemic, a group of us used to go out to dinner every Friday night. We all now cook at home and join a video call together. Many folks from the group had moved away in recent years. It has been nice to see them again every Friday night (virtually), and sometimes we play games such as, https://www.horsepaste.com/. The main difference is that simultaneous side conversations could happen in person. Now everyone is part of the same conversation for better or worse, lol.
New life rhythms:
Finding new life versus work versus school balance. Families had to reinvent themselves to make everything work. Being a teacher and a parent while working remote.
Inner search, compassion and humanity. Reinvention of self. New jobs and entrepreneurship. Resilience
Because of everything being shuffled we get a chance to re-evaluate how we live our lives, do business, do church, etc. Do we REALLY want to go back to "normal?"
We have found many blessings from this time period. Covid stopped our family, like everyone, in our tracks. We were so busy and over programmed. My kids have had time to just enjoy each other!! We will be more thoughtful about adding activities back into our schedules. I’ve also taken a leave of absence from my job to focus on the kids and their virtual school. I have missed so much stuff juggling both a stressful/demanding job and being a parent. This has given us the time to refocus and prioritize. So, all this to say, I think good things have happened too!!!
Some are not able to work remotely and they have children home. The children have to do life and school with no one to help them.
Cleaning out closets and basements!
I have been fortunate enough to have worked everyday. But seeing all the "projects others did" has made me sad that I didn't accomplish as much as they did.
Morning walks with Marley. When we went into COVID lockdown, I began working from home. My dog had previously gone to work with me, and at home he was bored and lonely. So we began taking neighborhood walks every morning.
We’re not the only persons out in our neighborhood. Marley loves the attention, and our neighbors love him. We’ve met neighbors who have lived in the neighborhood awhile, but who were gone to work and school everyday. Seeing children on bicycles, moms with strollers, and joggers braving the heat has led to chats with neighbors old and new. And what touches my heart was that most every conversation ends with “If you need anything, let us know!”
The stories of kids not listening to parents, running amok when parents are trying to work from home. Lack of bandwidth, computers, the list goes on?!
Another point of tension is that businesses have had to shift how they spend time with their clients, and if they did not figure that out...They'd just outright shut down.
Hobbies, like cooking and gardening, and re-connecting with our friends further away.
Being able to take a break and reinvest in myself and old hobbies
Activities or hobbies promoting social gatherings such as swing dancing (or any sort of social dancing) will look very different in the future. Spontaneous get togethers need to now be planned out or are moving virtual. Being afraid to touch other people (shaking hands, etc)
Since the pandemic started, I have been cooking much more. Using fresh herbs definitely adds more flavor. Due to concerns regarding the supply and demand food chain as well as financial concerns, I now grow my own basil, parsley, rosemary, oregano, and mint so I always have fresh herbs to cook with. Also, I have more time to tend to them while working from home (ie, no commute).
It has made people judge the chronically ill even more. For example, when someone who is ill chooses not to attend certain functions due to concerns of catching COVID, but then is not included when people do gather online, by text, etc as a result. It's like being punished for being sick.
Toll taken by the elderly with no ability to see the family they love. Toll in reverse how Family must deal with little or no interaction with the elderly.
Lack of resources available to the disabled community.
I'm having some surgical procedures that require a driver. Older single adults like me, whose friend base is quite scattered have quite a difficult task with finding responsible mature people that want to"breathe their air" in a car.
Aging siblings will no longer be able to gather for Holidays because of all the fear (real threats or false). But christmas might be able to get reigned in from all the greed and madness it usually is.
Friends and family dying alone. And then when there is a funeral only 7-10 were allowed to attend. :-(
The loss of human interaction is what has stood out to me. I.e., Being in hospital and not allowing ANY visitors......the isolation messes with you.
I’m surprised nobody has mentioned social distance anxiety, and the impact that this has had on creating long-term changes to behavior and habits. I’m a quadriplegic and have some underlying conditions, so this pandemic has made me even more socially distant than I was prior to COVID-19. This pandemic has taken a toll on mental health across-the-board. I lead a men’s small group that has continued to meet via zoom, and it has been a lifeline for all of us.
I’ve been working in hospice care for nearly 8 years. I have seen good deaths and bad deaths. What’s a good death? A good death is a person surrounded by their loved ones; family Singing hymns or telling jokes about the time that “mama threw her panties at a Prince concert.” Lately, there have been a lot of what I would call bad deaths. Not because the person is suffering, but because that person is alone. Due to Covid restrictions, many people are facing their last hours without their loved ones at their side. Although the hospice team is at their side, we are strangers in face shields, gowns and masks, holding cellphones so their families can say goodbye through a screen. I’ve never been more aware of the power of human touch. A recent Covid + patient I had was within hours of her last breathe. Her breathing was labored, she was restless and alone in an ICU room. The hospital allowed her daughter in. Gowned and gloved, her daughter set at her side. Despite precautions, her daughter needed to hold her hand one more time. As soon as her glove came off and they were hand and hand, her breathing slowed and she was at peace. We take for granted the amazing power of skin to skin contact. Whether it be a newborn baby on its mother’s chest or a mother that needs reassurance that daughter she is leaving behind will be ok. I don’t how this informs what I do going forward, but I know God designed us for community and relationship, even in those final hours.
My son has a rare genetic diagnosis called Xia Gibbs Syndrome. When Covid shut the schools down last March, he wasn't able to access his speech, occupational, vision, and physical therapies in person. After a few weeks, I advocated for him to start doing these school-provided therapies in a virtual format. Virtual therapies are not particularly helpful or effective for a three year old with a vision condition. The result is that I spend many hours attempting to help my son do therapy activities that I do not have the expertise (or time honestly) to do well. Another consequence of him losing those in person services has been dramatic regression in his abilities. He has regressed in his speech development as well as in completing fine motor tasks. Additionally, he has developed troubling behaviors stemming, I assume, from his loss of social and emotional stimulation outside of the home. For example, he has started biting or hitting himself in the head when he is frustrated and can't communicate to me. I have chosen to send him to an in-person school because he desperately needs his in-person services. This decision was agonizing because I do not believe that our state or our county school systems are prioritizing science, public health, or the most vulnerable populations. The effects on our family have been magnified because I no longer have the support services to help me out as a single parent. I had hired a baby sitter to come help once weekly. However, neighboring UGA had 821 cases in one week, then 1,400+ the following week. The babysitter's roommate contracted Covid. The babysitter then contracted Covid. I have concluded that it is literally not safe for me to have help come into my home. I am doing everything myself without respite. This is not sustainable.
How churches have become more political and less Christ like
Loving your neighbors has never been more crucial.
How about how it tests what people believe, and the divisions it creates inside of the church itself.
The ways churches are adapting or not adapting; whether people are seeking online community, smaller local communities, or waiting until government decides things have settled down.
Americans'- even Christians’ - sense of entitlement over and above kindness and courtesy. Even at our first large church service in 6 mo last week, when masks were supposed to be worn, many did not. I’m not talking about medical exceptions, I’m talking about people feeling “entitled” to their rights. From what I understand mask wearing protects others around you more than it does you, so not wearing it endangers others. Maybe as Americans we are all about entitlement, but as followers of Jesus, shouldn’t we be all about loving others and serving them? This trend really discourages me.
I see a lot of Christians demanding their constitutional rights (not wearing masks) while ignoring the caring for others. Jesus told us to do the opposite. the funny thing is that these same people ignore many other un-constitutional laws and more importantly un-biblical laws that do not care for people either. I have asked where was your complaint about those? I have yet to get a response
I find it so hard to understand why people think wearing a mask is a violation of their rights. Why don't people care about protecting others. I don't enjoy a mask but I don't want to harm others if I have COVID-19.
I immediately noticed on our daily walks how blue the sky was becoming! Without Atlantans commuting, the sky was clear and the air smelled fresh. Marley and I hear lots of birdsongs and, right now, clouds of butterflies. It makes me wonder if the lockdown is healing nature.
No idea if there is any correlation, but there are tons and tons of orb weaver spiders in Simpsonwood. Don't remember seeing so many ever before. (Simpsonwood is acres of woodland in Norcross area, Atlanta)
The lack of connection - can't see a person's face.
People suspicious that others have it.
Less friendliness because of fear.
One thing I noticed that’s different is the compliment “thank you for being normal.” I’ve used it a lot more lately. People have said it to me lately. (And it’s not to/from any one people with any certain political view.....it varies!)
But I was thinking last night when someone said it to me how crazy it is that we now compliment one another for treating other people and other ideas with respect. For listening. For being kind. For doing the things we should be doing anyway. So strange.......
The thing I miss most about wearing a mask are the smiles we would exchange.
Effects on children
The impact on children both of having much more time with parents and much less time with peers than before.
People have rediscovered ways to explore America through road trips.
My once desire to have a tiny house has now shifted to a 1300-1500 sq ft place given all the time at home. I wonder what impact this will have on the tiny house movement?
Two repeated themes I keep seeing are the panics and shortages resulting from COVID-19, and the resistance to do what most of us know is best for ourselves and others. There is a real need for grace and balance.
For a more light hearted response: no more free food samples at Costco. Sadness. Used to be a primary reason for going.
The increased control we've allowed fear to have in our decision making process. I was having trouble finding disinfecting supplies for my parents so I joined a 'community group' that supposedly shares tips and helps one another. It has been eye opening. People literally spending their entire days stockpiling Lysol because they're terrified they won't have 'enough', then they post pictures of closets and basements full of supplies. I never really understood 'panic buying' until now. It's truly a sort of sustained hysteria. I thought after the toilet paper debacle earlier this year, most people had surely learned their lesson. Nope. We still seem to be letting fear control us, rather than the other way around.
We just asked this as a discussion question in the class I'm teaching at The Colorado School of Mines (a project-based design class). Common themes included the difficulty of learning online, cancellation of milestone events such as graduation and prom, barriers preventing sports/working out, the general sense of uncertainty and its impact on planning ones life, and increased fear/anxiety.
In education a positive: How districts like City Schools off Decatur have made strides to make a virtual learning happen with equity (setting up kids that need them with laptops, virtual hotspots, etc.) Rockdale County was already a 1:1 school district and has made the call to do a semester of virtual learning.
My mom is sick. My teaching in the virtual world has allowed me to do my Synchronous real time meets with students from anywhere in the word (with high speed Internet) so I can be here for her.
How those of us in the homeschool industry suddenly work night and day 7 days a week and can barely keep up with the demand.
How about the perspective changes toward teachers when parents have to teach their own kids.
I'm back working at school with an Affective Needs program: students with behavioral and emotional challenges. Many, if not most, of our students are on the autism spectrum. We wear masks all day. I don't even know what my new students look like nor do they know what their teachers, aides, and other staff look like. They already have a hard time reading social cues and reacting appropriately. Now, throw in masks! Nearly impossible. I feel like the masks and distancing are making school feel even more isolating. Easy to go through your day feeling invisible.
It's hard to juggle teaching, as well as helping our kids out with their remote learning. It has been crazy to say the least. Not to mention the situation teachers are being put in as the nation's child care provider so that parents can work again. It is very recent in our history that two parents had to work and that shifted teachers into the role of day care providers as well as teachers. The anger that is directed our way for being a little hesitant going back due to COVID is so sad.
Last night I dreamed I was at the grocery store and forgot my mask but everyone else had as well. Then I was walking on the edge of a rickety old house then climbing a crumbling mountain. Underlying all that is my concern for our ability to get along and be on the same page as a society, even for something so clearly for the greater good.
Fear... of a cough, a friend, a hug, etc...
Homeless problems. The governments of many states just let them live on the streets. This is Denver.
I don't know if this is a shared experience, but whenever I watch a movie or a show and there is a crowd of people in it, my immediate response is that it looks so weird that people are not wearing masks and I reflexively am like "Why are they so close together!?!" and then I am like "Oh yeah, this is the way life was before."
Observations of a Contact Tracer, Kirsten F:
My cases have thankfully, been largely uneventful in terms of largely unique or catastrophic situations. However, my experiences in calling cases have been eye opening. Some cases that stand out:
-a 70+ year old woman. She had extremely light symptoms, and told me that she thought her runny nose was from crying so much since her mother has been in the hospital for COVID. That one hit me pretty hard for some reason.
-a man who asked if I would be able to get him a hotel voucher so that he could get away from his family as possible, so he wouldn’t be exposing them any longer.
-a concerned woman who had not gotten her results by the time I got on the phone with her. I was calling to tell her she had been exposed. She had been going to the gym, and had met with some friends. Her other household members had tested negative, and she was asymptomatic. She thought in the off chance that she did have it, the testing center would have surely gotten back to her by the time I called.
In terms of repercussions of COVID, or things that we’ve never experienced in our lives, I have to resort to my observations in this role. To clarify, my job is to call individuals who are either confirmed or probable (based on symptoms/exposure) cases with COVID and a) check in on them and see if they need any resources, and b) gather information on their experience with the disease.
The use of technology:
This is not the first pandemic or the first disease where contact tracing has been utilized. I would say that it is unique in the sense that it is a universally disruptive pandemic where CI/Contact Tracing has become an important tool, and has been aided by technology. The use of technology and social media or records has been unequivocally helpful. However, there are challenges.
-There are errors. It only takes one bug, one glitch, or one human error for information to be passed along, that shouldn’t be passed along. This can lead, and fairly so, to suspicion. For example, I have gotten incorrect phone numbers. Not usually a big deal, but I recently had an unhappy case where I had been calling his girlfriend, who became suspicious when I could not provide any information to her (HIPPA). I also heard of a situation where we had called one or two individuals that had never actually been tested for COVID. These situations do not help with minimizing suspicions or conspiracy theories, but I think it’s important to note that neither technology or humans are perfect. These things will happen, even when we do our best to avoid them.
-It challenges you to keep everything in perspective, and to treat every person with dignity and respect. This applies even when you are dealing with individuals who do not want to speak with you, or when you never get the chance to speak with them at all. The biggest impact this has had for me is when I am assigned a case that is currently hospitalized. In rare events, the case is no longer living. In one sense, it is easy to think “onto the next case.” In another sense, there is a profound realization that I have been so loosely connected with somebody’s lifetime. In these times, I try to take a moment and acknowledge the very real effects this pandemic has had.
Kirsten's Fears, now and going forward:
I have genuinely never heard such fear and anxiety in people. This is a mix of concern for themselves, and for others, such as hospitalized family members.
The start of in person schooling might create a multitude of new issues, but I don’t really have any specific experiences with that. I’ll let teachers or current students speak more to that.
Kirsten is commonly asked the following
-can I be infected with it again?
-how long will I have it for?
-should my family (or house) members get tested?
-are my kids safe?
-is my dog safe?
-should I make sure to test negative before going out again?
Thanks for you contributions, everyone!
If you have observations of your own, please leave a comment!
Raw Spoon, 9-8-2020