COVID-19: One Year Later

By Derrel Jazz Johnson

When March 2020 began, life was pretty much normal. Schools, nightclubs, and movie theaters were still open and we weren’t all wearing face masks and social distancing. But by the end of March 2020, life as we knew it had changed. Businesses were shuttered unless they were essential, homeschooling children became the norm, we all began wearing face masks and social distancing, and New York City became the epicenter in the United States for the COVID-19 Pandemic. Worst of all, we began losing our family, friends and loved ones (we have lost 515,000 Americans and counting, with that number increasing daily).

Nearly a year into the pandemic, things are still bad, as over 1,000 people die each day. But hope appears to be on the way. With a third company able to produce the COVID-19 vaccination, there is cause for optimism that things could get back to normal sometime in the not-to-distant future. But at what cost? Over a half-million Americans have lost their lives, many small businesses have been shuttered for good, and there are millions of Americans out of work.

We asked some loyal readers of The Harlem Times how the COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted their lives.

Elena Romero, an educator, and Mom said “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted my life in several ways. I’ve lost friends, neighbors, and colleagues. It’s made me reset and reevaluate the things that matter most to me. I recently did grad work -an autoethnography around how COVID has impacted my parenting during the remote learning process. It’s made me analyze concepts of work, care work, and invisible work. Most importantly, it’s made me further respect the concept of time because it’s the one thing we could never have enough of and we can never get back.”

Lisa Murray, an educator, says “It is really hard to fully articulate how much COVID 19 has impacted my life. Lots of negatives, some positives. I really enjoyed the lockdown at first but then it just kind of dragged on. I miss my friends and my old life. I look forward to the time when life can return to some level of normalcy. This pandemic has exposed a lot of hard uncomfortable truths that I can’t unsee.

Reverend Thomas Humphrey says “My life has been devastated.  I have been separated from family members and I have been separated from my church congregation. As an elderly man, there is lots of fear. The fear of getting COVID-19. The fear of going shopping. The fear of going to my doctor. My spiritual life was destroyed. A loved one died alone. Our loved ones did not get the proper funeral and love ones were not visited by family members in the hospital before they died.”

Susana Saja, an entrepreneur and Mom, found herself in a difficult position. “I was in the process of closing my business, I was in third round interviews at a private equity firm and a bank when the pandemic broke out, so financially things were bleak,” She expresses. “But I now have a government pandemic job, which requires overtime but also pays me the overtime.  So, while financially it started out rough, I’m sitting pretty right now. And then there’s is my love life, just before the pandemic broke out, I had reconnected with an old flame, and the pandemic provided us both ample time to talk on the phone and connect on a deeper level.  He eventually told his boss that since he was going to work from home anyway, he might as well move from Colorado to California, and so he did and last night we were discussing wedding rings!”

As a journalist who has covered some of the world’s top musicians and athletes, the COVID-19 Pandemic changed my life drastically. For 10 years, I was primarily a sports and entertainment journalist who wrote about LeBron James, Beyoncé, Serena Williams, and other top entertainers. In the past year, I have covered not one concert or sporting event, nor have I been on a plane. Also, sadly, I lost a colleague, Anthony Causi, a photographer for the New York Post, to COVID-19. New York sports teams have paid tribute to him and he is missed by many inside and out of arenas and stadiums in the New York area.

But things are turning around with thousands getting vaccinated daily and for me personally. I am scheduled to cover the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, which would be my first flight and my first live sporting event in nearly a year. Slowly, things are starting to change, but at what cost to us all?

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