Friday, March 12, 2021

Coronavirus: A Year Later

It's been one year since this got real.  When I think of the moment it felt like the reality of the coronavirus pandemic started for Eliot and me, March 12th always comes to mind.  That was the day when things began closing in quick succession.  Never in a million years would I have predicted how the next 12 months of our lives would go.  It seems like forever ago, yet just yesterday.  And in that time, so much has changed... 

First of all, I'd be remiss not to mention all of the lives lost.  In the United States we've lost over 530 thousand people.  The US has had over 29 million cases of coronavirus that have been reported.  Worldwide, there have been 118 million cases of coronavirus and 2.62 million deaths.  It's overwhelmingly devastating.  I have a few friends who have lost loved ones.  It breaks my heart to think of people saying goodbye to their loved ones over Zoom.  Thankfully, the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been dropping in the United States recently.  I hope it continues to drop.

It's been a long year and the thing that has changed the most is that I now have a sense of hope.  As of today, we currently have three vaccines that have been approved for use in the United States.  We've only vaccinated about 12% of the US population so far; but for the first time in a long time, I feel hope.  I have hope that the end of this is on the horizon.  We just have to stay the course so we can cross the finish line.

Today, I thought that I'd do a little recap based off all of the things that I wrote about a year ago.  Back then, I watched the news in horror as things all started to close one after another.  Now, we're watching as things start on the path to reopening.  I'm sure most of you will be aware of all this- nothing I write about will be breaking news.  But years from now, we'll be able to look back at this time.  This post will be a reminder to myself of what happened and of how far we've come over the past year.

On March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic.  In the days leading up to that day, the news about it was slowly taking over the airwaves.  Eliot and I had already started the precautions of washing our hands, using hand sanitizer and social distancing.  I was calm about it, but on March 12th, something suddenly clicked and I entered into the fear, hysteria and confusion.  I went from calm as a cucumber to spiraling as news of closures appeared in my newsfeed.

The NBA was the first professional sports league to put their season on hold.  They later returned to play on July 30th with only 22 teams competing.  All of the players, coaches and staff were put into a "bubble" at the Walt Disney World Resort and the remainder of the 2020 season and the playoffs were all played at ESPN Wide World of Sports.  The season ended when Lakers won the NBA Finals on October 13th.

The San Jose Sharks went from plans of playing in an empty arena, to not playing at all for 10 months.  (The lowest seven teams in the league never returned to play until the 2020-2021 season.)  When the NHL returned to play on August 1st, 2020.  The NHL separated 24 teams into two bubbles- both in Canada.  The Eastern teams played in Toronto while the Western teams played in Edmonton.  Because the season was cut short, there was a wild card round in order to determine who the final 16 teams in the playoffs would be.  That round also determined the seed of the playoff teams.  On September 28th, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in Edmonton.

Maine had it's first case of COVID the same day this was unfolding.  Since then, we've had over 46,000 cases.  Most of them have been in Cumberland and York Counties- basically where Eliot and I live.  As of today, Maine has had 723 COVID deaths.

March 12, 2020 was also the day Disneyland announced it's upcoming March 14th closure.  I never would have expected it would still be closed a year later.  However, this past week, CA amusement parks have been given the green light to open with limited capacity and Disneyland plans to open sometime in April.

Disney's Mulan was delayed on it's release in theaters.  It was supposed to come out March 27th, but it ended up going directly to Disney+ on September 4th for a premium fee of $30.  December 1st, it became available for everyone to watch with no extra fee.

March 12th was also the day that Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris announced their upcoming closures.  The Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened on July 11th while Epcot and Hollywood Studios reopened July 15th.  Since then, Disney cast members and guests have adhered to strict face mask rules.  There are also new hand washing stations all over the each of the parks.  There still hasn't been a return of parades, fireworks, character meet and greets or shows, but Disney has announced that their working on those.  The magic is still there, it's just different right now.

Disney Cruise Line suspended itineraries set to depart beginning Saturday March 14th through the end of March 2020.  Sadly, the cruise line industry has been completely obliterated by the worldwide pandemic.  Disney continues to approach the suspensions every few months, but no one really knows when cruising will be back.

The MLB delayed spring training and the start of their season.  They finally started on July 23rd and had a shorter 60 game season instead of their usual 162 schedule.  The season ended on October 27th when the Dodgers won the World Series.

The Maine Mariners hockey season was put on hiatus.  It ended up being completely cancelled, as well as the 2020-2021 season.  Eliot just saw an announcement that the ECHL plans to return this fall and the Mariners first game will be on October 22nd. 

The NFL returned last fall, with COVID protocols in place to protect players, coaches and staff.  They were able to have the season go by without problems.  On February 7th, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl and Tom Brady got his 7th ring.  

In addition to all of the above, so many other things changed.  High school and college athletics were postponed or cancelled.  Universities sent students home after spring break and they didn't return until the fall.  So many students, of all ages, have been learning online.  Those at school wear masks all day and they are spaced 6' apart whenever able.  Conferences and conventions have moved to online or have been cancelled.  Broadway went dark and it remains dark with no idea when it will be back.

Since last year, many people have worked from home.  Eliot's been deemed essential and hasn't been able to work at home.  Thankfully, he's been safe.  Although, it took longer than it should have for his work to require them to wear masks when they aren't at their stations.  But thankfully, they've only had a few cases and *knock on wood* none of them have been in his area of the plant.

My travel agent friends have worked for little pay or for free for most of the year.  (They are all superheroes!)  I haven't had any clients reach out to me during the pandemic, and I haven't actively pursued anyone.  Thankfully, travel finally seems to be bouncing back as people learn to make adjustments to our current state of normal.  I'm hoping to start adverting on my social media pages again in the coming months.

Elissa never did get to go on spring break to South Carolina.  She wasn't even able to return to campus.  After I wrote this, UNE had students pack everything up and move off campus.  Elissa finished the school year remotely from her friend Heather's house down in MA.  Then, she had an online graduation.  And as I wrote about last summer, she stayed with us a few days before Sara came out to drive her back out west.  Even now, Sara's graduation from veterinary school in May is going to be over Zoom.

People have had to postpone vacations, bridal showers, weddings, baby showers and other big life events.  Many businesses are taking a really hard hit.  People have lost their jobs.  Companies have closed.  People are picking up and moving now that they can work remotely.  (Maine real estate has seen a huge boom.)  Things have turned upside down and some people are barely making it through each day.  This worldwide pandemic has affected everyone in different ways... but it has affected us all.

We haven't stopped living our lives, but I have been at home more than ever.  I've been extra cautious when I do go out.  Hand sanitizer has become our best friend.  Eliot and I have so many masks that we've bought.  We limit our trips out shopping, but when we do go out, we're usually gone for hours going to multiple places during one trip.

Happily Ever Hatter's sales have been slow and that's effected us a lot.  Thankfully, we've been able to make up for missing income through Eliot's Snowblade Creations shop.  As of the past few weeks, things seem to be picking up with mouse ear sales.  I don't want to get over excited, but I'm hoping news of Disneyland's eventual opening in April will lead to more sales.  Plus, more people are starting to slowly travel again.

Over the last year I've learned a lot of lessons.  I've learned that it's ok to have fear and uncertainty.  Everyone can feel anxious sometimes, and that's not a weakness.  It's ok to not be ok.  It's ok to reach out for help when you need it.  Everyone can feel lonely sometimes.  I've also learned a lot about patience.  I've learned that I can't control everything... which I always knew but still tried to most times.  I've become even better at going with the flow.  I've learned a lot about politics- more than I ever cared to.  I've learned that sometimes you need a break from the news and social media and it's ok to put people on a "time-out" from appearing in your newsfeed.  I've also learned that if you watch enough puppy and animal videos, the Facebook algorithms will mostly only show you cute puppy videos in order to keep you on their platform longer.

Finally, I've learned the value of kindness.  I've always believed that if you can be anything, you should at least be kind.  Kindness doesn't cost you anything.  If there's one thing that's become painfully apparent this past year, it's that the world needs more kindness in it.  Last year, I ended my post with a quote as we moved into the unknown of the pandemic.  Today, one year later when we're (hopefully) approaching the end to this, it still rings true.  We all need to continue to "have courage and be kind."  °o°

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