360 Days Since Our World Did a 180º

Graphic by Jane Boyland

If someone had told us that Mar. 13, 2020 would be the last day of school as we knew it, no one would have believed it. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of when COVID-19 started to truly impact our world: it’s when we began online school, practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and staying in rather than going out.

There were a number of tragedies in 2020, including the forest fires in Australia, George Floyd’s murder, and widespread violent protests, but looming over all was COVID-19. There have been over 500,000 deaths in the United States alone, the most the country has experienced at one time with the exception of the Civil War. Families had to go through the holidays isolated from relatives and friends in order to stay safe, and people in hospitals are dying without being able to say goodbye to their loved ones. 

Due to the isolation people are in to keep themselves safe, face-to-face interactions are much less common. Job interviews happen virtually through Zoom or other media platforms. People are going on Zoom dates instead of meeting in person at a restaurant. Even education has changed drastically, with most schools operating at least partly online. Having no in-person interaction with others has a major effect on one’s mental health, and, throughout the pandemic, four in ten adults have reported feeling more anxious or depressed according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit that focuses on health care issues.

Freshman Carolyn Vernon said: “The worst thing about COVID for me has been not being able to travel freely and be with big groups of people.”

When COVID-19 first became a concern, businesses and individuals buckled under its weight. In just the first week of the pandemic, a record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment and many businesses either temporarily shuttered or went bankrupt.

The popular Mexican chain Tijuana Flats, which is near PGA and US1, was replaced with a Chipotle due to the economic distress caused by COVID-19. Hangry Kitchen, a local restaurant, opened and closed within months due to the pandemic. Similarly, Bunulu, the popular swimsuit store, went out of business at The Gardens Mall. All of these stores have been successful in the past, but COVID-19 changed that.

Junior Ali Brown said, “Bunulu was one of my favorite places to buy bathing suits, and it has been a really reliable store in the mall for years. I was really sad to see it go out of business because there is no other store like it near us.”

Without a doubt, COVID-19 has negatively impacted almost every single person in the world, but in the bad, there is some good. 

First and foremost, we have become globally united. Medical facilities all over the world have come together in order to create a vaccine to beat the virus, and now, these vaccines are being distributed all over the world. Doctors from China are working with medical professionals in America and people are communicating more than ever to reach a common goal: the end of the pandemic. During COVID-19, the medical community has stepped up. Doctors, since Mar., have been risking their health more than ever in order to help people fight COVID-19, and people all over the world are showing their appreciation. 

During the various quarantines, lockdowns, and other restrictions, people had to stay inside and there was really nowhere to travel to. As a result, air quality increased significantly. Scientists at earthsky.org found that, since Feb. 2020, “pandemic restrictions have reduced global nitrogen dioxide concentrations by nearly 20%.”

In addition, social media has taken on a new meaning. Tik Tok is one platform that has become extremely popular in the past year, and while parents and other people aren’t necessarily happy with the amount of time their children spend scrolling through the app, it actually serves as a way to connect people, especially through a time of social isolation. When people cannot meet up in person, they turn to social media to feel connected. On Tik Tok, people create their own content, and, in a time where there aren’t too many positives, watching a funny or cute video can provide a much-needed laugh.

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it, and, similar to 9/11, we likely will never be able to go back to pre-pandemic life; however, the vaccine is now being widely distributed throughout the United States and the rest of the world in order to gain some semblance of normalcy. 

“I’m hoping for things to go back to normal by the end of 2021. I want to have a normal college experience without all the COVID restraints given that I missed out on a lot of fun in my senior year,” senior Aidan Neidoff explained.

Despite the difficult circumstances and challenges we have had to overcome, we have also grown and made incredible developments as a population.