It’s been one year since everything was forced to shut down, drastically changing our lives, making life difficult in the process. From Zoom university and remote working to countless businesses closing their doors – let’s travel back in time and reflect on an entire year since the shutdown began.
The date is March 13, 2020, schools are off for spring break and workers are out for the weekend. As the afternoon rush is underway, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency, and with it, shutting down schools and closing down all government-funded jobs, along with all other non-essential work.
We were expected to stay home and quarantine for two weeks in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
To many people’s surprise, two weeks was not enough.
Months went by, and students were getting evermore frustrated, mainly because of the school closures getting pushed back and back, until May, when it was announced that schools across Massachusetts would close for the remainder of the school year. This announcement had answered the questions of several students on the subject of a possible return to school before the summer.
Since the outbreak in Massachusetts began in March, positive cases in our state increased anywhere between 1,000-2,000 cases per day, but as time went on, this number began to dwindle down to as little as 100-250 cases per day around May-July.
On July 1st, Bridgewater State had announced the 2020 Fall Semester would be mainly online, with some classes going back to on-campus instruction. This would later be extended into the 2021 Spring Semester in November. The positive test rate began to rise again in August, as things were beginning to open up bit by bit, especially in part due to Baker announcing a re-opening plan, divided into 4 phases, further divided into multiple steps.
With the second surge of COVID-19 striking Massachusetts in the fall, questions began to rise again as to what would happen in the future, pertaining to school openings. With the second surge, we saw numbers as high as 4,000-6,500 cases per day, making any chance of normality, once again, fall downwards.
The numbers began to decrease once again in February, back to a rate not seen since the beginning of the pandemic in the state, ranging from 1,000-2,000 cases per day. During this time, we had believed that the threat of COVID-19 was finally ending, and with the help of a newly created tool, this seemed very likely.
In December 2020, the CDC had given the green light on a COVID vaccine created and tested by a pharmaceutical company called Pfizer. The Pfizer vaccine carried with it a 2-dosage process with a 95% effectiveness rate. This was great news, as this would begin the process of immunizing millions and millions of people worldwide, along with the newly released Moderna 2-dosage vaccine (85% effectiveness rate) and the 1-dosage Johnson & Johnson vaccine released at the end of February. But when there’s a positive, there’s always a negative.
Over time, as the disease has grown and gotten stronger, four new variants of COVID-19 have been discovered. These are the Original Variant, the UK Variant, the South African Variant, and the new Brazilian Variant. Out of these 4 variants, 1 is considered more lethal (UK), 3 are considered more infectious (the UK, South African, Brazilian), and 1 is carrying immunities against the recently released vaccines (South African).
Considering all variants in the US being in Massachusetts, there’s a high likeliness that a third COVID surge will take place, with the matter not being an ¨if¨ but a matter of ¨when,¨which definitely complicates any openings and any future plans.
But arrive to today, and a full year of this COVID shutdown has passed us by. So, what are the main points of commonality shared between now and the start of the pandemic?
- When the pandemic started, things were looking bleak and uncertainty began to cloud the minds of every working adult, and every student alike. Nowadays, everything is opening up again, but the threat of COVID still lingers every time we go out and enjoy our lives.
- Masks are still a big part of our society today as they were at the very beginning, and their reliance and effectiveness still play a major role in stopping the spread from getting more out of hand than it could have gotten.
- We are still learning remotely, with some schools adopting a hybrid system of learning starting this past fall, and we are still feeling the effects of isolation and we all struggle in at least some of our classes, if not all of them.
The past was hard and filled with uncertainty, the present has some hope, but questions still fill the air, and the future is uncertain, with so much to yet be discovered with regards to this pandemic. Stay safe everyone!