Reflecting on COVID-19: Events Leading Up to the Shutdown and A Look at Life 2 Months Later

It is crazy to think that exactly two months ago from today, I was in Arizona visiting my family for a long weekend as the COVID-19 pandemic was escalating at a rapid rate within the United States. Although the thought of cancelling my flight had crossed my mind, I instinctively knew this was probably going to be my last chance to travel for a very long time so I still took my flight as planned. My only real concerns were whether or not they would place a travel ban within the United States in which I would not be able to fly back home to New Jersey or I could potentially be on a plane that would expect me to have to quarantine for fourteen days. With very much left uncertain, anything was possible and I thought either of those scenarios could easily have become the reality.

Within that weekend I was away, the USA announced that there would be a travel ban to and from Europe along with all the Disney locations shutting down by the end of the weekend. I don’t know about you but Disney closing seemed pretty radical considering it is one of the most well known and popular tourist attractions in the entire world. I was also getting constant communication from the high school I work at that there was a chance school needed to be shutdown altogether with a final automated message left on my phone that afternoon, March 13th that all schools were to be closed and begin remote learning that following week. It was rather mind blowing how much change was taken into effect within that short amount of time that I was away.

Needless to say, I never felt so relieved to be back home safely from a flight in my entire life. It was actually one of the fastest flights I ever took from Arizona as I arrived back at the Newark Airport that Sunday morning on March 15th at a record speed of under four hours.

In just a matter of two days, essentially everything that was non-essential was forced to shut down in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19. From state to state, this date might have varied but on Tuesday, March 17th was when everything abruptly had to close its doors in the state of New Jersey. This included places such as gyms, hair salons, venues, and many small businesses. Initially, I think the governor had announced it would only be for a two week period until further notice; however, as I’m writing this a full two months later, most places are still not open and the date in which we can expect a reopening keeps getting pushed back until we can see a dramatic change in the data with a significant decrease of cases within the state of New Jersey.

So what has life been like these past two months? First, I want to start off by saying that I am one of the lucky ones and I wholeheartedly recognize that. I have not been majorly impacted in any way compared to what I see on the news with people financially struggling to pay their rent or put food on the table. I am also not working the front lines which increases the risk of contracting the virus and I have not experienced COVID-19 or have had a close family member get infected.

I think everyone’s personal situation and how they are coping will vary but for myself personally, I have been managing quite well. Although I am home most of the time, I find plenty of ways to keep busy while also staying connected with the people I care about most. Of course I miss seeing people and being a part of social gatherings but I know there is a time and a place for that and just have to be patient until that time comes. Until then, I want to continue to practice social distancing to protect myself and others. I want to end here by encouraging others to do the same right now in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19. I believe if we all come together and do our part, the closer we are towards transitioning back to a normal way of life, even if that means that it will be a “new normal.” As the saying goes, “We are all in this together.”

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