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.