Here for a year: How COVID-19 has changed our lives, our souls

Written by on March 16, 2021

Here for a year: How COVID-19 has changed our lives, our souls

By Brittany Sweeney

March 16, 2021

Empty tables and chairs are seen at a small restaurant in the Washington suburb of McLean, Va., Saturday, May 23, 2020, as many businesses await official permission to return to normal operation after weeks of being closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo | J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

It’s been a year since Pennsylvania went into lockdown. Since then the coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 25,000 Pennsylvanians. Battered, we examine what has changed in the last year. 

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For 12 months now, health care workers have confronted the coronavirus pandemic head-on. A national investigation by the Guardian newspaper found more than 3,500 healthcare workers have died fighting COVID-19.

Like everybody else, masking has become second nature. 

“I feel like I’m, like masking, under my seat. I have masks in my purse masks in my bag. So I am definitely a whole bunch of masks,” says Dr. Jennifer Rovella, chief of Critical Care Medicine at Lehigh Valley Health Network

Rovella says the last year has taken a serious toll on her professional life and her personal life.

“Before, I would come home and have my kids hug me and now I have to follow the policy of ok, I’m going to leave all of my work clothes in the garage, go home shower and, and have that as a different part of my day. So, you know as much as I want that hug from my kids and my husband, I just have to delay that a little bit every time I come home from the hospital,” Rovella says. 

Not only has the medical field felt the weight of COVID-19, but the job force has, as well.

Pennsylvania lost 1.1 million jobs during the pandemic, though half of them have since been regained.

Mike Dopkins of PA CareerLink says they’ve had a drastic cut in the number of people they can help with career services in their Allentown office.

“We would typically, pre COVID, see 150 to 200 people a day coming through our office, if not more. Now we’re down to about 20 appointments a day,” Dopkins says. 

With more people struggling under financial pressure during the pandemic,  Briana McGonagle from Nazareth-based Second Harvest Food Bank is seeing more people across the board who need help feeding their families.

“We have been stretched pretty thin. Stretching to meet the increased need has had a toll on our staffing, on our budget to purchase food, and on the costs to get the food out the door has impacted us greatly.”

Pennsylvanians will continue to feel the effects of the past year for some time. But  Dr. Luther Rhodes from LVHN, who has studied Infectious diseases for several decades, does see some bright spots that he calls “scientific breakthroughs.” 

“I would never have predicted a few years ago that we would come out with a vaccine for a new virus in a matter of months. So that sort of takes the sharp edge if you will, off, obviously it’s personally, professionally, and family-wise, and every other way,” Rhodes says. 

To date, the Pennsylvania Department of Health says more than 3 million people have been vaccinated against COVID 19 across the state.

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