2020… The Pandemic Year
This time a year ago, the memes were just starting to flow with news of a hilarious beer virus floating around China. China had known for months, yet chose to keep it to themselves until it was too late. January came, we all dove straight into a new decade with the threat of world war three, and the beer virus memes continued. February was when talk of the 'rona really started becoming a small part of the American vocabulary. Hand sanitizer sales started pacing up, people were still at ease being around other people, and the world continued.
I remember February pretty well. The traveling meat truck people were in town, first time in two or three years, and they were moving some product. I think I was doing ten hours a week of broadcasting from the old Hastings parking lot for the full seven weeks they were in town. I remember it vividly because I got sick last February. Big cough, aches and pains, lots of fatigue... I figured it was flu, but I tested negative and the doctor said "It's just a virus, you'll have to let it run its course." This was before we knew rona was here and began testing for it. Lasted me about two weeks, I got better.
In March, Spring Break came around and my entire family had booked a week of skiing in Colorado. We flew out, drove up into the mountains, and had been at our rental house about an hour when the Colorado governor shut down all ski resorts since coronavirus gave its breakout performance in the days leading up to Spring Break. Still, we stayed, played dominoes, tubed on the snow hills, played in the wilderness, rented snowmobiles, and generally had a blast! Every passing day, the rona news became more and more.
In April, as a united country, we all decided to quarantine. We all figured with a little shutdown of the economies and plenty of social distancing, we'd show that covid-19 that nothing could beat us down. It went well for the most part, but as there was no plan in place to supplement countless small business owners and citizens that lived paycheck to paycheck, and the only option viable at the time being unemployment, millions found themselves out of a job, and the country started revolting for the first time this year.
May saw mask mandates come down locally to reflect bigger cities policies in very politically different areas of the country. Some called it tyranny, others saw it as a small inconvenience. Police videos sailed across the web from other places around the country, and again, people revolted. Half the population walked the streets for social change, the other half stood in line at the gun store buying up everything they possibly could.
Back in March and April, Summer was when this virus was supposed to die. "The heat will kill it off" is something we heard even at the highest office in the country. As you and I both know, Summer did not kill anything off. Summer is when numbers of covid cases soared. Months of revolt probably didn't help anything either. Political distrust, fake news, the idea that it's just a hoax, etc... Summer did not help us at all.
Fall came and we actually enjoyed fall temps in late August and September. Well, mostly because the smoke from the West Coast fires was thick enough to block that hot sun here in the plains. Had we known all we had to do to fight the Dog Days of Summer was light California on fire, I'm sure we'd at least joke about it long before 2020 came along.
October saw Winter come barrelling into Oklahoma with a vengeance. Lots of ice, sub-freezing temps, and a little bit of snow brought trees and power lines crashing down all across this state. In fact, some areas of Oklahoma City went without power for nearly a month.
In November, we all went to the polls to cast votes and it took the publics focus off covid for nearly a week. All we could talk about was "Who won the presidency?" A new spike in cases suddenly hit. The first big family holiday came, people planned, went, schools announced closings until January just to be safe, Lawton Public Schools insist there isn't a covid problem here in town, everyone knows that's not true, yet cases again spiked. After Thanksgiving, ICU beds for the worst covid cases became few and far between. People were shipping from Oklahoma as far away as New Mexico just to find a bed and ventilator. Christmas came, went, and here we are now wrapping up December. The last month of the longest year, and covid is no closer to going away than it was in March.
You might say "But there's a vaccine out there now." but people aren't taking in the numbers we thought they'd take it. Even though they had enough to inoculate the entire staff, a nurse I know tells me only about 15 out of the 200 on staff opted into the vaccine due to a lack of trust in both big pharma and the federal government. We can't even begin to speculate if those numbers can compare and scale to a larger control group, but it doesn't look good so far. Best case scenario for the vaccines was a return to normal life by Labor Day 2021, and if the current climate continues, odds are covid will linger and we'll just reach herd immunity the old fashioned way.
I hope your 2021 is a better year for all of us.