Today marks one year since Arkansas reported its first coronavirus case. Since then the state has reported 325,700 cases and 5,382 deaths. Our story a year ago today: https://t.co/Fk5C7167rq #arpx #arleg
— Andrew DeMillo (@ademillo) March 11, 2021
Yes, it’s the official first birthday of the COVID crisis.
It comes amid hope inspired by declining case numbers and an increased supply of vaccine, but, to me, there’s a bit too much optimism that normalcy is just around the corner.
I still believe the pandemic will change the post-pandemic world, should that day arrive. You can work effectively at home, we’ve learned. Do businesses need as much office space? Home delivery of everything from toilet paper to prepared meals to alcohol turns out to be a pretty good thing. Virtual school hasn’t been so hot (yet the state, while insisting that REAL public schools must meet in person, has ratcheted up exponentially the number of “virtual” charter school seats in the state.)
I’m embarrassed to admit the year hasn’t been so bad for me, unusual as it has been. Consider my home office/Facebook Live studio (I also have another computer station closer to an indispensable printer/scanner.) Ellen gets an end of the kitchen table for her work.
My job has continued. Boy has it. No vacation for 13 months and I’ve done at least a little work, if you call this that, seven days a week since Feb. 14. I have been to my office exactly twice, for a total of under 10 minutes and both visits timed to avoid contact with others, in the year since the emergency was declared.
Ellen and I have spent almost 400 days together, 24/7, in remarkable harmony, enlivened by a pandemic pup, housebroken but otherwise delinquent. We still get along after almost 45 years.
Turns out it’s handy to work at home — start a load of clothes here, get the fixings for dinner ready there, take a dog walking break now and then.
We didn’t get sick and neither did our kids, who both are continuing to work from home isolation in their jobs in New York. All of us have now had vaccinations. New York has a more robust vaccination plan. We are thinking about getting together in April.
We did family Christmas by Zoom, which reminds me of another welcome thing as a news reporter — the increase in public meetings held by Zoom and other Internet means — YouTube, Facebook and others. I can and do sometimes cover multiple meetings at once by computer. I hope this practice of live-streamed meetings continues. It increases public access. The Arkansas legislature in session isn’t a happy sight, but it IS transparent.
I’m grateful for my good fortune. Millions of others haven’t been so lucky.
I’m beyond grateful Joe Biden ousted the other guy and put a team to work ramping up vaccinations and getting aid to people who need it, despite obstacle after obstacle from Republicans in Congress.
I wish more people in Arkansas had taken the pandemic seriously. Our death toll might have been smaller. I wish the Arkansas legislature wasn’t working to hamper the limited common-sense steps the governor has taken to make the state a safer place. I wish more people in Arkansas wanted to get shots and that we had a coherent statewide system to get the shots to those who DO want them.
The future? Who knows? I’m not ready to head back to the office just yet.