2020: The missing year

Looking back to when the pandemic began

Screenshot of empty streets in Sault Saint Marie. 

Who saw this coming?

It’s been a year since people in this part of the world learned about the coming coronavirus. Most of them had no idea then how it would disrupt our entire year.

On this anniversary we talk to people to recount their first impressions of what was about to hit them and how their views changed over the year.

‘Thought it was a flu-like virus that came and went’

“I didn’t think quite much about it. I thought that it was a locally spread virus that would only impact a region, rather than the whole world,” said Joel Vidad, a 19-year-old, first-year commerce student at Queen’s University in Kingston.  “I thought it was a flu-like virus that came and went seasonally.”

Vidad was managing his semester before the lockdowns started in March 2020. Online courses came to the screen once they were announced by school staffs. Vidad felt skeptical at first about the new changes inflicted upon him due to unstable internet connection, working with technology and the transition itself until he became comfortable with the schedule.

His first trip to the grocery store was a frightening experience for him, given the rules that felt almost “story-like,” such as wearing masks, keeping social distancing signs, hearing safety announcements and following capacity limits.

For the academic year, he was on the Queen’s Relay for Life executive committee, which was planned for March last year. Their university suspended events a week before it took place.

Like any student, Vidad also wished to attend Homecoming 2020 since it’s always been a memorable opportunity to connect with fellow alumni and peers, he said, but instead he learned to make bread on break days to pass the time.

On nicer days, he would go on walks or explore the places where he is located such as Toronto, Kingston, or anywhere. St. Patrick’s Day along Aberdeen St. in Kingston is a party hub for most occasions where you would find a crowd, but although students would still attend parties in their backyards, the area was cleared by police.

“It felt lonely,” he said

Several of his friends have tested positive to the virus, although they recovered. He hasn’t lost anyone and remains cautious.

‘Life turned upside down’

“As a concerned parent, yes, the virus is worldwide bad news in our lives that we don’t know how to get rid of.,” said Hortense M. “Life has turned upside down. It affects us and puts our children at risk. It’s scary,”

She has been working as a support services worker for 10 years, but was hospitalized for 10 days after falling seriously ill in mid-February 2020. She showed signs of COVID-19, which worried doctors, but later discovered it was a different genre of sickness.

Upon her discharge from the hospital, the virus was still fresh to society and her work centre hasn’t reported any cases due to the precautions they authorized prior to the worldwide spread.

She hasn’t been working since leaving the hospital, yet during that time Hortense M. did her best to follow public health restrictions as she left her home to grocery shop, despite her belief that the rules are not 100 per cent effective in keeping people safe.

She used hand-sanitizer, washed her hands, wore a mask and kept her distance as instructed.

She feels bothered that those following the rules feel the need to yell to those not doing so.

“How can you fight against something you can’t see? The virus is in nature,” Hortense M. said.

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Posted: Feb 2 2021 12:29 am
Filed under: COVID-19 News