How Did the Covid-19 Pandemic Affect You, Your Family and Your Community?

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How Did the Covid-19 Pandemic Affect You, Your Family and Your Community?

It has been four years since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. The New York Times writes of the anniversary:

Four years ago today, society began to shut down.

Shortly after noon Eastern on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared Covid — or “the coronavirus,” then the more popular term — to be a global pandemic. Stocks plummeted in the afternoon. In the span of a single hour that night, President Donald Trump delivered an Oval Office address about Covid, Tom Hanks posted on Instagram that he had the virus and the N.B.A. announced it had canceled the rest of its season.

It was a Wednesday, and thousands of schools would shut by the end of the week. Workplaces closed, too. People washed their hands frequently and touched elbows instead of shaking hands (although the C.D.C. continued to discourage widespread mask wearing for several more weeks).

The worst pandemic in a century had begun.

For some people, the earliest days of the pandemic may feel like a lifetime ago; for others, it may feel like just yesterday. But for all of us Covid has indelibly changed our lives and the world. What do you remember about the earliest days of the pandemic? When did it first hit home for you? How did it affect you, your family and your community? What lessons did you learn about yourself and the world?

In “Four Years On, Covid Has Reshaped Life for Many Americans,” Julie Bosman writes that while the threat of severe illness and death has faded for many people, the pandemic’s effects still linger:

Jessie Thompson, a 36-year-old mother of two in Chicago, is reminded of the Covid-19 pandemic every day.

Sometimes it happens when she picks up her children from day care and then lets them romp around at a neighborhood park on the way home. Other times, it’s when she gets out the shower at 7 a.m. after a weekday workout.

“I always think: In my past life, I’d have to be on the train in 15 minutes,” said Ms. Thompson, a manager at United Airlines.

A hybrid work schedule has replaced her daily commute to the company headquarters in downtown Chicago, giving Ms. Thompson more time with her children and a deeper connection to her neighbors. “The pandemic is such a negative memory,” she said. “But I have this bright spot of goodness from it.”

For much of the United States, the pandemic is now firmly in the past, four years to the day that the Trump administration declared a national emergency as the virus spread uncontrollably. But for many Americans, the pandemic’s effects are still a prominent part of their daily lives.

In interviews, some people said that the changes are subtle but unmistakable: Their world feels a little smaller, with less socializing and fewer crowds. Parents who began to home-school their children never stopped. Many people are continuing to mourn relatives and spouses who died of Covid or of complications from the coronavirus.

The World Health Organization dropped its global health emergency designation in May 2023, but millions of people who survived the virus are suffering from long Covid, a mysterious and frequently debilitating condition that causes fatigue, muscle pain and cognitive decline.

One common sentiment has emerged. The changes brought on by the pandemic now feel lasting, a shift that may have permanently reshaped American life.

As part of our coverage of the pandemic’s anniversary, The Times asked readers how Covid has changed their attitudes toward life. Here is what they said:

“I’m a much more grateful person. Life is precious, and I see the beauty in all the little miracles that happen all around me. I’m a humbled human being now. I have more empathy and compassion towards everyone.” — Gil Gallegos, 59, Las Vegas, N.M.

“The pandemic has completely changed my approach to educating my child. My spouse and I had never seriously considered home-schooling until March 2020. Now, we wouldn’t have it any other way.” — Kim Harper, 47, Clinton, Md.

“I had contamination O.C.D. before the pandemic began. The last four years have been a steady string of my worst fears coming true. I never feel safe anymore. I know very well now that my body can betray me at any time.” — Adelia Brown, 23, Madison, Wis.

“I don’t take for granted the pleasure of being around people. Going to a show, a road trip, a restaurant, people watching at the opera. I love it.” — Philip Gunnels, 66, Sugar Land, Texas

“My remaining years are limited. On the one hand, I feel cheated out of many experiences I was looking forward to; on the other hand, I do not want to live my remaining years with long Covid. It’s hard.” — Sandra Wulach, 77, Edison, N.J.

Students, read one or both of the articles and then tell us:

  • How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect you, your family and your community? How did it reshape your life and the world? What are your most lasting memories of this difficult period? What do you want to remember most? What do you want to forget?

  • How did you change during this time? What did you learn about yourself and about life? What do you wish you knew then that you know now?

  • Ms. Bosman writes that some of the people she interviewed revealed that four years after the global pandemic began, “Their world feels a little smaller, with less socializing and fewer crowds.” However, Gil Gallegos told The Times: “I’m a much more grateful person. Life is precious, and I see the beauty in all the little miracles that happen all around me. I’m a humbled human being now. I have more empathy and compassion towards everyone.” Which of the experiences shared in the two articles reminded you the most of your own experiences during and after the pandemic and why? How did Covid change your overall outlook on life?

  • “The last normal day of school.” “The nursing home shut its doors.” “The bride wore Lululemon.” These are just a few quotes from “When the Pandemic Hit Home,” an article in which The Times asked readers to share their memories of the world shutting down. Read the article and then tell us about a time when the pandemic hit home for you.

  • In the last four years, scientists have unraveled some of the biggest mysteries about Covid. In another article, The Times explores many remaining questions about the coronavirus: Are superdodgers real? Is Covid seasonal? And what’s behind its strangest symptoms? Read the article and then tell us what questions you still have about the virus and its effects.

  • How do you think history books will tell the story of the pandemic? If you were to put together a time capsule of artifacts from this era to show people 100 years from now, what would you include and why? What will you tell your grandchildren about what it was like to live during this time?