One Year Later series

A view in my neighborhood a couple of days ago. I am standing in Oregon, looking across the Columbia River to the state of Washington. The steam billowing up on the left is from the Port of Longview, in Washington state, and the flat, white top of active volcano Mt. St. Helens is barely peeking above the clouds, top center.

In March of 2020 I began keeping what I’ve been calling “my COVID journal.” It occurred to me that the world was changing in dramatic, noticeable ways around me as a result of the pandemic, and that it was going to last long enough for us all to get used to the changes and to stop noticing them. I don’t know why, but I was compelled to start writing down things I noticed that were due to living through a pandemic.

It’s only January, but it’s time to start the series. On my first entry, the first day I wrote, I went back through my recollection and jotted down what I could. I did a couple of quick internet searches to find dates of things. I discovered that the first documented death due to COVID-19 in the United States was on January 20, in Kirkland, Washington, where my friend Bryan and his wife Penny lived at the time. So one year ago today began what would become a most unwanted record: the country with the highest death toll due to COVID-19.

From one death to nearly 400 thousand deaths in a single country in 365 days.

My plan is to submit a series of shorter blog posts than the ones I usually post. I think it would be interesting to see what caught my attention exactly one year previous. Maybe you’ll relate to some of the things I notice. Maybe you will have forgotten and I’ll remind you, which is what I hope for! Maybe you’ll see that you noticed it earlier than I did, and think about what that means. I’ll categorize them all One Year Later, or OYL. For today, I’ll include some of what I wrote in my “Noticed” journal on that first entry that I wrote on March 24:

I should have started a journal earlier. I feel like I’m going to want to remember this. But let me do my best to bring us up to speed on where I am today. Though it is possible the virus started in humans as early as November, the first confirmed case was in Wuhan, China December 1, 2019. Unfortunately, due to the Chinese New Year tradition of going home to spend time with families, the virus spread quickly. By mid-January the government closed the Wuhan borders, and wrung their hands. The first known case in the US was in Washington state on January 20, from a man who had traveled there from Wuhan, China. I felt a lot of wide-eyed wonder at the spread of this virus then. It was the top news story every single day (and still is) but still felt far away even though it was in the Seattle area.

11 thoughts on “One Year Later series

  1. Hi Crystal,

    Just read your post. In the 3rd paragraph it makes it seem like 24 million people have died. I think perhaps you wanted to say that many have contracted the virus.

    Thought I’d bring it to your attention. Hope all is well with you today. Sandy

    1. Yes, startling. I don’t know if you get the email version, or read it on my blog site, but the first version had an error. I listed too many deaths because I got it mixed up with 24 million cases of COVID in the US. After I published I read it over once more and noticed the error. The corrected number is still outrageous, and so sad. Globally it’s 2 million deaths. The OYL series is going to be more fun than this in the future…

  2. It is quite interesting to note the difference in the way we feel and react to something abstract or ‘out there’, compared instead to something near and tangible. I can still remember how I didn’t pay much attention and dismissed it as not ‘my problem’, with the first news articles. Boy oh boy did that change!!

    1. I noticed that too. I think I sort of went through the stages of grief, while making peace with the pandemic. I started off with denial, then there was some panic and some irrational anger. Slowly, as I became accustomed to the changes we had to make – and especially once it turned out transmission is thought to be spread just through the air, not by contact on groceries and packages in the mail – I was able to calm down and work with it.

  3. We started paying attention in February, Crystal. Your post led me to go back and look at the month. As you know, I keep a daily journal. On the last day of February, I noted that I was encouraging Peggy to start considering postponing our Europe trip in July. So we were already worrying about the implications off the disease. –Curt

    1. That was prescient of you both, to consider changing your July plans. I think in February I was convinced it would be over by July. In March I remember telling my girlfriend to just give it two months.

      1. Not listening to Trump, 🙂 and reading between the lines, it was scary stuff, Crystal. And it has only become more so. We also had a cruise through the Panama Canal planned for late March. There was no way I was going to get stuck on a cruise ship! 🙂 –Curt

      2. I never looked back on that one, Crystal. Although I had to persuade Peggy that it really wasn’t something we wanted to do. She had lived in Panama and was eager to return. Two weeks later she was quite pleased with the wisdom of ‘our’ choice. 🙂 –Curt

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