On December 31, 2019, China shared the news that they had been treating patients for an unknown disease. It had infected dozens of people throughout Asia, and they were working to solve this peculiar mystery illness. The disease was identified as a new type of coronavirus on January 7, 2020 (renamed COVID-19 on February 11), and the first known death was reported on January 11, 2020, in Wuhan, China (Taylor, “How the Coronavirus Pandemic Unfolded: a Timeline”).
Although the disease originated in Wuhan, it quickly spread throughout Asia, with citizens traveling to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year. On January 23, 2020, Wuhan was placed on lockdown by Chinese authorities. The virus had spread to Japan, Thailand, and Korea. At this time, 17 people had died from the coronavirus, and there were 570 confirmed cases. This virus was declared a Global Health Emergency on January 30 and would quickly shape history. You can read the entire timeline here (I am unsure if The New York Times will continue to update it each day)
I wanted to make this post for my future self to look back on; to remember this pivotal point in history. I experienced the pandemic while living in New York City, which was the epicenter of the virus for months. On March 15, 2020, NYC Schools shut down, and the New York City PAUSE was preparing to go into effect. For eight straight days, we had 700+ COVID-19 deaths a day, one day, in particular, having 808. We just began Phase I of reopening on June 8 and are by no means out of the woods yet, but we are getting there. I can not speak for the world; however, New York City was in chaos. People were terrified. The hospitals were overflowing with COVID patients; there were too many dead bodies for our morgues, leading to trenches being dug as temporary graves. Nobody had personal protective equipment, and hospitals created homemade masks as they attempted to save the lives of thousands of people. In response to the city needing more hospital beds, tents were pitched in Central Park, The Javits Center was transformed, and the USS Comfort was docked at Pier 90 for all in an effort to keep up with the amount of infected New Yorkers needing treatment. My mental health was surprisingly pretty good. Our world seemed like a parallel universe. As if we were in an episode of Black Mirror. Despite knowing someone who had died from the virus and several others who had contracted it, I was more afraid of having the illness and passing it along to others than getting sick myself. I still had to go into work as an essential worker (residential mental health), but it ended up being an absolute blessing financially, of course, but also emotionally.
Nobody could have prepared for the series of events that would occur after December 31, 2019. The outcome would change history. A change for the better or a change for the worst is up for personal interpretation. I, however, have an unbreakable habit of always seeing things in a good light. Sorry, not sorry! The entire world was affected by this virus. We had to act as one and adapt to this brand new world. I had never witnessed a collaboration like this in my life. We lived in a world where we were all quarantined, wearing masks, either hoarding toilet paper for some strange reason or scolding those who are stockpiling it, and actively spreading messages of hope. It was unbelievably life-changing for me, and I am ashamed of the faith I had lost in humanity beforehand. I sincerely apologize.
Social media was the funniest it had ever been! Memes, videos, skits, and posts about the virus were spot on. Tiger King on Netflix thrived as we were home with time to spare. Celebrities went live on social media with concerts, stand up comedy, and Q&As. Homelessness in New York City was taken somewhat seriously, and subways have never been cleaner. Citizens cheered for healthcare workers every night at 7 pm while businesses ran remotely from home. Rainbows were placed in windows; people were singing, leading parades, and even finding love.
Although this virus was terrifying, to say the least, I wanted to share how it looked through my eyes. The resilience I have seen these past few months has made me cry more times than I can count. We are unbelievably powerful when we come together. Let us never forget that. I am posting this as a reminder to myself to never lose my humanity or forget that it is there within the hearts of others; even if I can not see it.
(All are mine except: USS Comfort, the trash can bouquet, the Fearless Girl with a mask on, Central Park hospital tents, the Manhattan kiosk, and the text post)
Working Hard or Hardly Working?
Utilized My Extra Time to Learn a New Skill
Videos that Left an Impact on Me
The City that Never Sleeps
Music in Response to the Pandemic
The Videos that First Restored My Faith
I came across the performance of My Heart Will Go On one day and when I say I felt all the emotions, I. FELT. ALL. THE. EMOTIONS. I cried tears of joy, tears of frustration (why must it take a pandemic for people to come together) and tears of appreciation for Alberto and his boyfriend Roman who used their time to cheer up others. I definitely recommend you check out Alberto Gestoso’s Instagram. He has a number of incredible performances such as Michael Jackson, Disney, The Beatles, and beautiful original compositions .
I could go on and on with photos and videos, but I better stop now before I overload the website! I needed to post this for myself – to remember the numerous moments that left such an impact on my heart. Moments like the young boy and his father I saw with masks around their face and baseball mitts on their hands as they threw the ball back and fourth in a park; their laughs echoing in the distance. Moments in which we lightly touch elbows because a handshake or hug is too dangerous; our faces light up anyways – overjoyed by the gesture. Moments where we are strangers walking down the sidewalk and awkwardly side step to maintain a 6 feet distance, smiling at each other slightly embarrassed over this newfound behavior underneath our cloth masks. And moments when you pass someone sitting on the stoop, say hello, and tell them to stay safe. These are the stories that may not make the history books, but are what lead us to the next chapter. These are the stories of fear, humanity and resilience. May we continue to be stronger together.
~ Stay Safe…and of course…Stay Chipper Friends ~
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